Edinburgh, Scotland – Celebrated globally, New Year is known as an occasion of reflection, spectacular moments and celebration – and despite everything that has landed on 2020’s doorstep, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is dedicated to continuing this tradition and, for the first time in its history, with a fully digital programme.
Created as a reflection of the year that’s gone and a hope for the future, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will bring to life an exciting new piece of writing by award-winning poet and Scots Makar, Jackie Kay. Taking inspiration from Scotland’s land and air, the new work, titled Fare Well, will take viewers on a breath-taking visual journey with the help of 150 individual drones, creating Scotland’s first ever large-scale drone show and the largest drone show ever seen in the UK. Featuring stunning Scottish scenery, the story starts in the Highlands (near Spean Bridge) before moving to the iconic Forth Bridges with the finale in the home of Hogmanay – Edinburgh. From majestic snow-capped mountains to the historic Old Town of Edinburgh, this is a beautiful ode to Scotland not to be missed.
“This air has heather and malt on its breath
as it sighs, puffed oot after a year of death,
under the blue mask of its flag. The Saltire’s
been a warning cross. Dinny come too near.”
Taking inspiration from Jackie’s words, Edinburgh-based visual development artist Gary Wilson has created a series of awe-inspiring images that the drones are programmed to depict a series of words, symbols, animals and shapes in the sky, including a stag, an eagle, a mythical selkie, and the Saltire.
Drone show pioneers, Celestial, have used state of the art technology to launch 150 drones simultaneously into the air to create the largest choreographed drone swarm ever seen in the UK. Reaching an altitude of 150m, and top speeds of up to 25mph, the drones use sophisticated AI software to depict Gary Wilson’s iconic images.
Isle of Skye’s Celtic fusion band, Niteworks, add their unique musical style with a specially commissioned soundtrack to accompany the words and visuals of the event. As the story evolves, the emotionally charged score recognises the hardships and sacrifices of 2020 while recognising the hopes of a new year and the months ahead. As a staple of Hogmanay celebrations, Auld Lang Syne will also feature as Edinburgh, and Scotland seek to say goodbye to the year just gone.
“We swing aroon and turn tae the day.
We give thanks fir solidarity;
Drap parcels tae food banks.
Clap oor haunds frae balconies
fir the gift o’ nurses.”
In celebration of both renowned and emerging talent, Fare Well is narrated by a stellar cast including actors David Tennant (Dr Who, Broadchurch and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Siobhan Redmond (Taggart, Holby City, and Behind the Lines) and Lorne MacFadyen (Outlaw King, Grantchester, and ITV’s Bobby and Tina). A collection of young Scottish voices including Blessed (aged 16 from Aberdeen), Miren (aged 9 from Glasgow) Heather (aged 18 from Glasgow) and Winnie, a 25 year old native Gaelic speaker from the Isle of Skye complete the line-up.
The new work, which has been six months in the making with a team of almost 40 involved, promises to be a thought-provoking Fare Well to 2020, whilst looking forward with hope to what the new year may bring.
Due to Covid-19 and the restrictions on live events, Fare Well’s drone display was filmed on location in the Scottish Highlands, where the films will start, and then, using leading edge technology, the footage of the drones has have been placed into shots separately filmed around Edinburgh.
Fare Well is split into three, 5-minute parts, that can be viewed online on 29th, 30th and 31st December. The stay-at-home event series is FREE to watch and streamed via www.edinburghshogmanay.com so Hogmanay fans all over the world can tune in from the comfort and safety of their homes. Exclusive behind the scenes and ‘making of’ content will also be available to accompany the shows on edinburghshogmanay.com.
“So, aye, the New Year’s born at midnight.
Good riddance to the last page torn
from this scunnered year. And though we can’t First Foot
with lumps o’ coal, black bun, a Raasey Malt,
or join thigither in a ring o’ haunds,
singing Auld Acquaintance fit to break the band,
we send out Hope into this Scottish air,
breathed out by widows, workers, weans, by those who care,
by those who vote, shout, march to ring the changes
at the Bells, who’ve clocked the dangers.”
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Underbelly and producers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, commented:
“With 2020 being the year it has been, we want to ring out the old year and hurry in the new year, with a message of hope at a world-class event. Hope will be the universal message of the turn of the year, and ours will be no exception – Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s mission is to sing it from the roof tops with a creatively-led and proudly Scottish celebration.
We’re grateful to our creative team and to the City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland, The Scottish Government and Creative Scotland who have supported us to create a unique and special moment for people around the world. Join us from the 29 – 31 December, it truly is an event not to be missed.”
“We say Wha’s like us, singing Auld Lang’s Syne.
We share the planet’s air. What’s yours is mine.”
Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“We’re very proud of our status as the home of Hogmanay and I have no doubt this will endure for many years to come.
As with many aspects of our lives, we’ve had to adapt our plans for this year, but I believe we’ve found a fitting way to celebrate and mark the end of a highly unusual and challenging year – whilst looking ahead to 2021 with the hope and optimism that each new year brings.”
Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener at City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“The best place to celebrate Hogmanay this year will be from home. Please plan to ‘coorie in’ with your nearest and dearest, keep each other safe and please enjoy the UK first premiere ‘Fare Well’, featuring original and quite wonderful contributions from Scotland’s finest musicians and poets.”
For more information on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2020 and to watch the celebratory action from 29 to 31 December 2020 visit: www.edinburghshogmanay.com.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government