The nights are growing longer and darker here in Edinburgh, the sun hangs lower in the sky and mentions of Christmas shift from half-guilty whispers to full-blooded cries of delight - and with it all comes the world's best new year's eve party, Edinburgh's Hogmanay.

Image credit: Chris Watt

After a long, amazing and sometimes exhausting 2016, it's time to glam up, wrap up and show up for one last amazing party, celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of the next - and it's going to be a very special one for Edinburgh's world-famous festivals.

By now of course, you probably already know about the headliner, Scotland's very own Paolo Nutini and you probably also know that tickets to catch him at the Concert in the Gardens sold out in a matter of hours!

Bad luck if you missed out... although so popular was Paolo, that the Edinburgh's Hogmanay organisers added an extra performance on the previous evening, Friday 30 December. The Night Afore Concert was close to selling out, but tickets may still be available so be sure to check!

It's not all about Mr Nutini of course, nor even about the 31st - Edinburgh's Hogmanay is a 3-day festival with a wide range of fantastic events to enjoy. For instance on Friday 30th, there's the incredibly popular Torchlight Procession.

Image credit: Lloyd Smith

Thousands of torch carriers will stride through the capital's historic streets, with tens of thousands more watching from the sidelines, as a river of fire flows from the Old Town to the grand summit of Calton Hill. There, a huge bonfire and a spectacular light and sound show will end with a display of beautiful fireworks.

Even more famous fireworks will illuminate the sky the following night, of course, as the party reaches its peak. No less than four displays will shower partygoers with light, as countdown fireworks at 9, 10 and 11 o'clock whet the appetite for that breathtaking midnight moment.

Image credit: Chris Watt

The evening's entertainment gets going before all that, as revellers enjoy live music on multiple stages across the city centre. If you're not able to get to Paolo's show at the Concert in the Gardens, here are just some of the highlights elsewhere:

• Indie legends The Charlatans (plus guests) will be rocking their loyal fans over at the Waverley Stage
• Salsa Celtica, Manran and others will bring the thrilling sounds of Scottish-Celtic crossover to the Castle Stage
• The Frederick Stage will be bouncing, with DJs and dancers, Guilty Pleasures plus VJs Buttercup and Pixel
• A very special programming collaboration with the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival will bring high energy favourites Brass Gumbo, James Brown is Annie and others to the Mound Stage
• Fans of classical music will want to be at St Giles' Cathedral, where the annual Candlelit Concert will present work from Johann Friedrich Fasch, JS Bach and Mozart in the amazing atmosphere of the 14th century church
• And right outside St Giles' will be the wild and wonderful Old Town Ceilidh, with two stages of live traditional music keeping thousands birlin' til the bells and beyond

Image credit: Lloyd Smith

And once the midnight fireworks have soared and the year has come at last to its end, the world's biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne will bring the party, the city and the world together in the spirit of friendship and celebration. The music will carry on into the night and 2017 will be underway.

But that's not all. You see, Edinburgh's Hogmanay still has plenty to offer the morning (and afternoon) after the night before.

A few miles to the west in South Queensferry, hardy partiers will be shaking any hint of a hangover and bracing themselves for a dip into the icy waters of the River Forth in the Stoats Loony Dook.

Image credit: Chris Watt

The Dookers, many clad in fancy dress, will parade along the high street for cheering spectators, before turning to face the water and their dates with destiny. Or at least very, very cold feet.

Meanwhile, back in the city centre, the unique Scot:Lands programme will combine brilliantly curated content from Scotland's music makers, theatre creators and innovative artists in a kind of arts treasure hunt.

Starting with a randomly allocated venue, participants will travel from one secret venue to another experiencing some of the very best of Scotland's contemporary culture.

Image credit: Lloyd Smith

And as 2017's first day comes to a close, The Final Fling at the National Museum of Scotland will offer yet one more opportunity to ceilidh dance and celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Already packing your bags for December? Buy your tickets for all Edinburgh Hogmanay festivities here.

2017 is a very special year in the lives of Edinburgh's other festivals too, as the city marks the 70th anniversary of the Fringe, International Festival and Film Festival, and with them the beginning of Edinburgh's reign as the world's leading festival city.

Details on the year-long celebrations will emerge soon, and with Edinburgh's Hogmanay kicking 2017 off in style it's sure to be a very special 12 months. We hope you'll be part of it.

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