Ring in the New Year Scottish-style at Hogman-eh!

 Ally the Piper (Ally Crowley-Duncan) will appear at this year’s Hogman-eh! New Year’s celebration.
Mariner’s Curse playing at an earlier Hogman-eh!
Photo credit: JIM ROBIDOUX

The 12th annual Hogman-eh!, Ottawa’s biggest New Year’s Eve party, will again take place at Lansdowne, presented by the Scottish Society of Ottawa. It’s said to be the largest such celebration outside of Scotland. While Hogman-eh! was free in earlier years, the event is now ticketed, although the afternoon event in the Horticulture Building is free. Hogmanay has been celebrated since pagan times when Norsemen welcomed the winter solstice and the beginning of a new year.

You don’t need to be Scottish to share in the fun. Hogman-eh! is for families and people of all ages to celebrate the end of the current year and the beginning of the new with music, dance, people and, of course, food and drink. It’s lively, fun and safe! The celebration goes from 5 p.m. December 31 to 1 a.m. January 1.

A Hall of Origins in the Horticulture Building will be dedicated to Scottish clans and genealogy, along with traditional and contemporary Celtic music. People can head there from 2 to 6 p.m. on December 31 to learn about Scottish history and enjoy the music in the afternoon, free of charge. Ceilidh session music will be playing from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Kids’ Zone from 5 to 7 p.m. and all the main musical acts are held in the high-ceilinged and spacious interior of the Aberdeen Pavilion next door. Dynamic Celtic ceilidh-style entertainment includes piping, drumming, fiddlers and highland dancing. There are some great food choices inside the pavilion, and you can even enjoy the fabled haggis. With in-and-out privileges, you may opt to dine in restaurants in Lansdowne Park or choose from a variety of foods available inside the main venue.

The Scots know a thing or two about whisky. The Hogman-eh bar has a variety of single malt scotch available as well as wine and beer. The first part the celebration begins with a balloon drop at 7 p.m. (midnight in Scotland) followed by the stirring sounds of pipes and drums to a massed highland fling, a must-see.

The party continues into the wee hours with music by the Mudmen, Anna Ludlow, MacIsaac-Mackenzie and Glengarry’s favourite, the Brigadoons. This year the show features Ally the Piper, a cool kilted piper who is setting concert stages and social media on fire. Finally, what Scottish Hogman-eh! would be complete without the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”?

Robert Burns’s version of “Auld Lang Syne” was published in 1788, although a version of the song was in print over 80 years before that. The iconic song reminisces about times gone by and has been adopted worldwide as a go-to song to ring in the new year. The poem’s Scots title loosely translates as “old times, or “for the sake of old times”.

At Hogmanay in Scotland, it is common practice that everyone joins hands with the person next to them to form a great circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse (“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere /and gie’s a hand o’ thine!”), everyone crosses their arms so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbour on the left and vice versa. When the tune ends, everyone rushes to the middle, while still holding hands. When the circle is re-established, everyone turns under their arms to end up facing outwards with their hands still joined. Don’t worry if it sounds complicated – someone will show you how! The tradition of singing the song when parting, with crossed hands linked, arose in the mid-19th century and continues to this day.

Tickets are available at the Scottish Society of Ottawa’s website (ottscot.ca). The Scottish Society of Ottawa is a volunteer-led, not for profit organization that celebrates the links between the National Capital Region, Eastern Ontario, and all of Canada. It was founded in 2012 to revive and rejuvenate the historic ties between Canada and Scotland.


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