Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a fantastic three days of fun in Scotland’s capital city, celebrating the end of one year and the start of the New Year. We’ve taken part three times, and loved it every time. It’s also a largely outdoor event, which means that if you are attending, you need to be prepared!
In this guide, we’re going to share with you exactly what you need to pack, wear and bring for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party. Then you can focus on enjoying the fun!
This guide will also be useful to anyone visiting Edinburgh in winter, and wondering what to pack and wear.
As well as the New Years Eve party itself, this guide will also cover what to pack and wear for the Loony Dook event. For more information on visiting Edinburgh for Hogmanay, check out our comprehensive guide to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, as well as our guide to the Loony Dook, which forms part of our series of Edinburgh content.
Now, let’s get started with getting you prepared for Hogmanay!
**Note that the 2020 Hogmanay Festival and related activities have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.**
Hogmanay 2020: Edinburgh Packing Guide
As always, you’ll want to check the weather before heading out to see what the temperatures are likely to be on the night itself, as well as if any rain is forecast. However, the below guide should give you a good idea of what you’ll need.
What to Wear for Hogmanay in Edinburgh
Held in Scotland’s capital city in winter, as you would imagine, you need to be prepared for wintery temperatures. Whilst Scotland doesn’t usually get too cold, temperatures at or slightly above freezing are to be expected at this time of year. Rain is also a possibility, although snow is unlikely.
With the majority of the shows and activities taking place outside, you’re going to want to wrap up nice and warm, with plenty of layers to trap warmth, which you can also remove should you find yourself warming up through dance, or if you go into a building. Here are some suggestions for your Hogmanay packing list.
1. Warm Hat
Keeping your head warm is a key component of staying warm as so much of our body heat can be lost through our heads. A nice warm hat will resolve this issues, plus you can make a fashion statement whilst your about it. Perhaps something like this for her, and a hat like this for him? There are lots to choose from (see here), so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something to suit.
2. Warm coat
Perhaps the most important part of your Hogmanay wardrobe is going to be your coat. You’re going to want this to be warm and ideally wind and waterproof. We’d suggest this isn’t an area you want to skimp on – a good winter coat is a solid, long term investment. Again – lots of choices. We think a jacket like this for men and for women is a good start.
Or if you want something even warmer, check out this waterproof down jacket (similar option for women here) which should keep you toasty warm. Down is a lovely warm insulating material – just make sure you find something that is also waterproof in case it rains. Any waterproof jacket will clearly state it is waterproof in the description.
3. Fleece layer
The layers you wear under your jacket are also important. We advise either a layer of fleece material, which will trap air but not moisture, or a wool jumper. Ideally you want to avoid cotton, as this traps moisture and can result in you getting cold should it get wet.
There are loads of fleece options for both men and women available online, just make sure whatever you buy or wear isn’t too bulky to fit under your coat.
4. Warm thermal baselayers
If you feel the cold, and it is forecast to be around freezing or slightly above, then we can highly recommend you invest in a good set of thermal baselayers. These are designed to be worn directly against the skin, and come as both long-sleeved shirts, and also as long pants, which you can put your outer layers over.
These come in a variety of different materials, from synthetic to merino wool. They all work the same though – providing an extra warm layer directly on your skin to keep you toasty warm. I personally like my merino wool baselayer, and Jess likes a synthetic layer like this.
5. Pants / trousers / skirt
Your choice of what to wear on your lower half is really up to you! Personally, I’ve just worn jeans for every Hogmanay I’ve been to, and Jess has worn black pants. However, we’ve seen people in all sorts, including skirts with thick woollen tights, and even onesies! We think that as long as you have a nice warm baselayer underneath, your choice isn’t too important.
Gloves are really important for Scotland in winter! The extremities of our bodies like our fingers and toes tend to feel the cold first, and this can be exacerbated by holding a cold drink in your hand as well. So you definitely want to protect your hands. I’d advise something wind-proof, ideally fleece lined, to keep your fingers toasty warm.
You can also get gloves that let you operate your smartphone, so you won’t even get cold fingers whilst sharing your awesome time with the world on Instagram. I have a pair of Isotoner windproof gloves which do the job just fine, plus they let me operate my smartphone without taking my gloves off. They have style options for both men and women.
There are plenty of options available for windproof smartphone compatible gloves.
A scarf is a great way to keep your neck warm and to stop cold air getting into your upper layers. It also traps heat and stops it escaping from around your neck area. All in all, a good, cost-effective investment for your warmth. I have a scarf like this, and Jess has one like this.
8. Thick socks
Like your fingers, your toes will often be the first to feel the cold. So wrapping them up nice warm socks is a good way to help combat that problem. There are lots of options – I have a pair of Alpaca wool socks that I use when I know my toes might get cold, and they are available for men and women. You can see them on Amazon here.
9. Good shoes
The streets of Edinburgh are a mix of pavement, road and cobblestones. If the weather is bad, these can be wet and slippery, or even icy. As you’ll be on your feet for most of the event, you’re going to want comfortable shoes that you can walk around (and maybe even dance in?) all night.
You’ll also want something that keeps the water out if possible, especially if it rains. Hiking boots might be overkill, but a decent pair of comfortable waterproof shoes are a must. Also, be aware that in the gardens, there are grassy areas where it can sometimes be muddy, so you might not want to wear your best shoes!
10. Something fun
Hogmanay is meant to be a party, and parties are all about fun! So when you’re planning your outfit, don’t forget to add something a bit of fun! This could be anything from a brightly colored bobble item to a onesie – it really doesn’t matter. The goal is to make you and the people around you happy, so pick something that works for you and go with it!
What to Bring to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2020
Now you’ve got all your clothes sorted, you’re probably wondering what you should bring along to the actual night. You are allowed to bring small bags with you into the street party, but be aware they will be searched as you enter.
In addition, as per the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay terms and conditions of entry, you are allowed to bring alcohol into the street party area, but only in plastic bottles or cans no larger than 500ml (about 17fl oz), and no more than four bottles or cans per person. Glass is strictly prohibited.
Note that alcohol can only be brought into the street party area, and not the special events areas like the Ceilidh or Concert in the Gardens. These areas do have their own bars where drinks can be bought.
So my suggestions for what to bring are as follows:
1. Plastic bottle for drinks
You might want to bring some drinks into the street party area, and if you do, you’ll want a plastic bottle to keep them in. Just a standard plastic drinking bottle like this will do, into which you can put your beverage of choice, be that a soft drink, or something stronger!
2. A small bag
To carry your drinks and anything else you might want to bring into the party, you might want to bring a small bag. If possible, we’d avoid bringing a bag so you can avoid the security checks, however, if you must bring a bag then we think a small backpack is likely to be the most comfortable option as you’ll be carrying it around all evening.
Note that the security policy requires bags to be smaller than a sheet of A3 paper (297mm x 420mm).
We recommend checking out the list of small backpacks here, and finding a well reviewed option that meets the bag size requirements for Hogmanay.
3. Smartphone / camera
Obviously you’re going to want to document your fun at Hogmanay, and these days most of us do that with a smartphone rather than a camera. I have a comprehensive guide to picking the best camera for travel, which also has a number of smartphone choices.
Just be aware that during the street party, especially around midnight, the sheer volume of people can cause congestion in the phone networks, so it can take a while to get messages or uploads out.
If you don’t have a waterproof coat, you might want to invest in a cheap poncho in case it rains. This will fold up really small into your bag, and will keep you and your belongings dry should the weather turn inclement.
5. Battery charger
You will probably be using your phone a fair bit throughout the festival to stay in touch with friends and capture all the moments. So you might want to invest in a portable battery pack to keep yourself charged, and to be sure you can reach loved ones at the midnight moment!
6. Your ticket
This is obvious, but worth repeating. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a ticketed event (tickets are available here), and to get in to the various events you will need to show your ticket at the entry gates. So don’t forget it!
What to pack / wear for Loony Dook
If you’re planning on attending the Edinburgh Loony Dook, you might be wondering what you need to wear for that. Well, if you’re actually going in the water and taking part in the parade, the sky is the limit when it comes to your outfit. The wackier the better!
The only advice from our personal experience is to wear some old footwear during the parade that keeps your feet off the cold ground, and that you don’t mind getting wet. The beach is rocky rather than sandy at south Queensferry, so you’ll definitely want shoes with a bit of grip as well.
We also advise that you put a bit of thought into the outfit you’ll be wearing once you come out of the water. You’re going to be cold and wet, and so you’ll want a good towel and a full dry change of clothes waiting for you somewhere close by. Ideally you’ll have friends or family with you who will have this for you on standby when you come out of the water, or at least, close by.
Otherwise, just enjoy yourself and enjoy the event – it’s a lot of fun!
General advice on Packing for Scotland in Winter
Scotland in winter can experience a wide range of weather conditions, from snow through to sunshine, with temperatures usually between -3 and +10 C (26F – 50F). In addition, it can be windy, with the cold wind making it feel a lot colder. So the key advice is to bring plenty of layers that you can put on and take off.
As well as the general clothing items that you will want for Hogmanay, you will also want to consider a few extra items for Scotland, particularly if you are travelling from abroad.
Travel adaptor plugs
Scotland uses the British style three pin plugs, meaning unless you’re from the UK, you are very likely going to need a travel adaptor like this. We have one of those, but to be honest, we actually prefer a simpler and cheaper solution like this.
Then we suggest you travel with a power strip like this, which you can plug into the adaptor you buy. Many places we stay never seem to have enough sockets for all our chargers, so a power strip is usually invaluable.
See more on travel adapters and how to choose one for your trip in our guide to the best travel adapters.
The winter air in Scotland is very dry, and can play havoc with your skin and lips. In particular, we find that we often get dry lips in Scotland. So you’ll want to pack some good moisturiser, and a chapstick to protect your lips. These items are also available in the UK, but if there is a brand you particualrly like back home, it’s worth picking them up before you visit in case they aren’t stocked.
Other than that, we don’t think you need to pack anything particularly special for your trip to Scotland in winter. There are lots of shops that cover a wide range of products, so even if you forget something, the chances are you will be able to pick it up on arrival.
Further Reading on Visiting Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Scotland
That’s pretty much it for our guide to what to pack and what to bring to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Before you go though, I wanted to share with you some more resources to help you plan your perfect trip to Scotland.
- Our definitive guide to attending Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, based on our experiences attending. We also have a guide to taking part in the fun Loony Dook event on New Years day.
- If you’re in town a bit before Hogmanay, check out our guide to what do do for Christmas in Edinburgh as well as our complete guide to Edinburgh in winter.
- Take a look at the official Edinburgh’s Hogmanay page, where you can book tickets for all the events and find out what’s going on throughout the event
- If you’re interested in attending some of the other festivals in Edinburgh, check out our guide to attending Edinburgh’s August festivals, as well as the official Edinburgh Festivals website.
- Check out our travel resources page, which will give you lots of tips and ideas on how to save money on booking accommodation and flights for your trip
- If you’re in Edinburgh for longer over this period, there’s a lot going on in the lead up to both New Years Eve and Christmas in Edinburgh. Check out my guide to spending two days in Edinburgh,
- our guide to things to do in Edinburgh, and our guide to off the beaten path attractions in Edinburgh.
- And finally, check out our pages on Edinburgh and Scotland, to give you lots more ideas for how to spend your time in this lovely part of the world.
And that’s it! We hope you found our guide to what to pack for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay useful – as always, let us know your feedback and thoughts in the comments below.