As the pandemic passes through the Hogmanay celebrations for the second year in a row, it is good to remember the way we were.
Looks like it’s been a long time since the Highlanders gathered on the streets to spend the night at a Hogmanay hoolie known for his friendliness and good nature.
Who knew on December 31, 2019 that the increasingly popular Red Hot Highland Fling wouldn’t be back for another two years, and beloved comedian Craig Hill would have to keep his pink kilt and mean jokes a secret, can -being to retire early this year with a cup of cocoa instead.
It’s hard to believe now, but there was quite an uproar when it was decided to move the Hogmanay public party from Inverness to the city center in 1997.
Members of the public and businesses have inundated organizers, The Inverness Project, with objections to the idea – taking the street party off the streets seemed unthinkable.
The decision was taken following security concerns after more than 5,000 people gathered in the Highland capital for the Christmas lights to come on.
The event was described as a shambles and police welcomed the idea of moving the party across the river to Bught Park, a 15-minute walk from the city center.
Unprecedented security has been put in place with more than 10,000 revelers expected.
The party started in the High Street with the bagpipe group Ben Wyvis, before moving on to Bught Park.
Doubts about the event quickly faded as Celtic band Wolfstone captivated the crowd ahead of the midnight fireworks display.
Police praised the public’s behavior while noting that the party in the Bught halved the number of people.
Nevertheless, the stage was set for future Hogmanay nights away from the city center.
Inverness became a city in 2000, and the following Hogmanay saw the number of visitors to a Riverlights show doubling, with an early evening fireworks and laser show, and new illuminations coming on along the banks of the River Ness.
The weather has taken its toll on several evenings at Inverness Hogmanay over the past two decades.
In 2010, heavy snowfall and deteriorating weather saw the show canceled, but somehow the message did not reach the Red Hot Chilli Pipers who showed up to find that the ‘event has been canceled.
In 2007, the city rejoiced a bit when Edinburgh’s celebrations were called off due to the weather, but Inverness staged a spectacular launch for the Year of Highland Culture, despite gale warnings .
Now based in the Northern Meeting Park, the Highland capital’s shindig Hogmanay has become “the Highland’s biggest hoolie.”
Bands such as Tide Lines, Braebach, Blazin Fiddles, Skippinish, Dorec-A-Belle and the Trad Project have made audiences jump, sing and dance in recent years.
The crowds were plentiful, the family atmosphere and relations with the courts were most cordial.
There is no doubt that many Invernessians, and those who came from further into the city for the night, will redouble the celebrations on the next Hogmanay if, if the pandemic and the weather permit, the Red Hot Highland Fling can get up to again to celebrate the new year with laughter and music.
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