Celebrate Your Inner Scot on New Year’s Eve

By Don Cummer

For the third year in a row, the best New Year’s Eve party in town will take place across the Rideau Canal at the Aberdeen Pavilion.

It’s called Hogman-eh! and is hosted by the Scottish Society of Ottawa.

New Year’s is a big deal in Scotland. In 1996, more than 300,000 people gathered in Edinburgh and set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest New Year’s party.

Here in Ottawa, thousands have come to the Aberdeen Pavilion to ring in the new year Scottish-style. As one of the first events to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, this year’s Hogman-eh! may draw its biggest crowds yet.

Its success comes, in part, because the event is free, but also because there’s something for everyone.

Families with young children take advantage of the annual tradition of having two countdowns for Near Year’s. The first is at midnight in Scotland, which is 7 p.m. here. This means that families can bring their kids from 5 p.m. onward to enjoy the live music, dancing, magicians, jugglers, face-painters and LED-light performers. They can be on hand for the stroke of ‘midnight’ when the balloons rain down from the rafters. And they can be back home by 8.

The second New Year’s countdown will include the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne followed by fireworks. From 5 p.m. until midnight, Hogman-eh! offers whisky tasting, food and beverages, pipe bands, Scottish dancing, and live music – all in the warm confines of the ‘Cattle Castle.’

Many who come to Hogman-eh! bring along their skates for a late-night circuit around the Lansdowne Park rink. Others settle in before the stage to enjoy the variety of musical entertainment. Bobby Watt, whose band Ecosse is a perennial favourite at the celebration, is also responsible for lining up the entertainment.

“Our headliner act this year is one of the biggest names in Celtic music,” he said. “We’re under contractual obligation not to release the name of the act until later in December, but believe me, lovers of Scottish music won’t want to miss this.”

Across from the Aberdeen Pavilion at the Horticulture Building, New Year’s revelers can get a preview of portions of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry that has toured the world and will be exhibited through the month of January at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Entrance to the Aberdeen pavilion is free to everyone, but those 19-years of age or older who want to upgrade their New Year’s Eve experience are invited to purchase a VIP package for $75. They will enjoy select seating, entrance to a special area where they can meet the musical performers, complimentary coat check, cocktails and appetizers in the Milestones VIP Lounge, and various other items of swag that will make this a memorable night. More information can be obtained at www.ottscot.ca.

At Hogman-eh! Mayor Jim Watson will declare January 2017 to be Scottish Month in Ottawa. The Scottish Society of Ottawa has organized several events to celebrate.

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry will be on display. The annual Robbie Burns Dinner will celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s national poet. And on Jan. 28, skaters will gather on the Rideau Canal Skateway for the Third Annual Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate.

Whether you have Scottish blood in your veins, or whether New Year’s Eve is a chance to bring out the inner Scot that lives in all of us, Hogman-eh! is going to be the place to ring in 2017.

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