The warm family atmosphere of Inverness’s Hogmanay was singled out for praise by party-goers as more than 10,000 people flocked to the city’s Red Hot Highland Fling at the Northern Meeting Park to celebrate Hogmanay.
Opening the evening’s entertainment were Calum Mackenzie Jones and The Trad Project who soon had the crowds jumping, dancing and singing with their exuberance and high-octane Celtic indie folk rock.
The Fling crowned a stellar year for Buckie singer-songwriter Mackenzie Jones as he completed a Scottish tour and released his second album to critical acclaim.
Blazin’ Fiddles – who played at the inaugural event in 2009 – followed, closing their 20th anniversary year at the Fling.
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The folk pop/rock quartet Tide Lines saw in the bells, also crowning a hectic year for the young Highlanders whose fan base has rocketed since the success of their debut single Far Side of the World in 2016
Comedian Craig Hill compered the celebrations in his trademark pink kilt, saying he was thrilled to see the newly refurbished Inverness Town House decked out in matching colours.
His rapid patter had the crowds in stitches, but bringing 8-year-old Yvie MacIvor on stage to demonstrate the ‘floss’ dance saw Hill temporarily stumped for words.
Yvie explained she came from Daviot, a place Hill had clearly never heard of as he said ‘Eh? Deviot? Teviot? Deviants!’.
Unperturbed, Yvie flew the flag for her Highland village with a slick performance of flossing which left the crowd cheering.
After Hill and Inverness provost Helen Carmichael led the countdown to the bells, pyrotechnics by Fire Worx Scotland dazzled the crowds lining the park and river.
The crowd was then in for an unannounced surprise – the arrival of Dingwall-based Highland Voices Gospel Choir to sing Auld Lang Syne.
Created by musical director Tony Henry in 2017, the choir has been taking the Highlands by storm.
Tide Lines returned to top the evening and set revellers heading off into the city centre to continue partying with smiles on their faces.
Since the first Fling in 2009, the event has grown to draw visitors from far and wide, giving Inverness and the wider Highlands a welcome economic boost in winter.
Organiser Gerry Reynolds said he was delighted with the evening, thanking the public for their spirit and good humour.
Glasses, spirits and cash raised across the north
Highlanders were out partying hard for Hogmanay across the region.
There was not a bed to be had in Oban where concerts and ceilidhs took place across the town, from the Argyllshire Gathering Halls to the smallest bar.
At midnight, amid the traditional blasting of ship and ferry horns, fireworks lit up Argyll from McCaig’s Tower above the town in an annual display funded by BID4Oban.
BID CEO Andrew Spence said the event was attracting more people each year, with around 1,000 now taking to the streets for the fireworks.
He said: “The event has proved so successful that the BID is open to ideas for other events for next Hogmanay, so anyone with ideas should please come forward.”
In Thurso, the wind almost had the upper hand as the trailer donated as a stage by local haulier D. Steven shook unnervingly under its force earlier in the day.
But by the evening the wind had eased and changed direction, saving the night and encouraging more than 1,500 people to flock to Princes Street to welcome in the New Year.
Local band Cover2Cover entertained the crowd through to the bells.
Thurso’s Hogmanay celebrations were under threat a couple of years ago due to lack of funds and volunteers but the event now looks healthy again, according to committee member John Firth.
He said: “Thanks to support from local businesses and Scrabster Harbour Trust, and our fundraising efforts, we can be sure the event will happen again next year.”
The crowd raised £1,450 in bucket collections to fund Hogmanay 2019.