Scotland

Torchlight procession gets Edinburgh Hogmanay under way

Torchlight procession in Edinburgh Image copyright PA
Image caption Torchbearers spelled out "braw" as Edinburgh"s Hogmanay festival opened on Saturday with an "iconic" torchlight procession

About 20,000 people, including 17,000 torchbearers, took part in a procession through Edinburgh city centre to mark the opening of the city's Hogmanay festival.

The torchlight parade on Saturday also included 30 Vikings from Shetland.

It culminated in Holyrood Park, where the word "braw" was spelled out to mark the start of the Year of Young People.

The word was chosen as the one that best describes why young people are proud to live in Scotland.

The city's three-day Hogmanay festival will continue later with the Street Party and Concert in the Gardens.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Vikings from Shetland's Up Helly Aa Festival took part in the torchlight procession

Organisers have insisted events will go ahead as planned despite the arrival of Storm Dylan.

High winds have been battering Scotland, with power outages, disruption to rail and ferry services and trees down in some areas. There are also flood warnings in place.

However, the stormy conditions were expected to subside by late Sunday afternoon, before the main Hogmanay celebrations get under way.

The word "braw" - meaning good or great - and unveiled as part of the torchlight event, was chosen by the #ScotWord campaign, which asked young people to select one word that best answers the question: "What makes you proud to live in Scotland?"

Image caption The procession went down the Royal Mile, past Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament
Image caption Torchbearers snaked their way to Holyrood Park

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of the festival, said: "When we set about designing Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2018, we wanted to engage the people of Scotland and at the start of Scotland's Year of Young People, most especially young Scotland.

"#ScotWord is the blazing voice of Scotland's young people telling the world why they're proud to live in this extraordinary country and what better word to sum that up than braw?

"The iconic procession was a huge success made all the more wonderful by the young performers who entertained us all."

An estimated 25,000 people watched the procession.

Image caption About 17,000 torchbearers took part in the iconic event
Image caption The word "braw" was chosen by young people as best describing why they are proud to live in Scotland

Later tens of thousands of people are expected for one of the world's biggest street parties, with live music, DJs, street entertainment and fireworks from Edinburgh Castle.

Rag'n'Bone Man will headline Concert in the Gardens with The Human League among the acts on the street party stages.

Fireworks will be launched from the castle at 21:00, 22:00 and 23:00 in a countdown to midnight, when a soundscaped fireworks display will entertain the audience for the first nine minutes of 2018.

Police Scotland urged people not to be alarmed by the presence of armed officers.

Ch Supt Kenny MacDonald, divisional commander for Edinburgh, said: "I would again reiterate that there is no specific intelligence relating to a potential threat for either event.

"In addition to the police officers and stewards present on the evening a range of barriers and bollards will also be utilised, which prevent vehicles accessing the event arena. Again, this is purely a precautionary measure."

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