Sep 282015

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Stonehaven Fireballs - credit pic Paul Mitchell

Stonehaven Fireballs – Photo credit: Paul Mitchell

Legendary Scottish pop group Deacon Blue will headline Stonehaven’s Open Air in the Square this Hogmanay.
But those travelling to the event won’t need a ship called Dignity to see the top pop act: the Aberdeen Altens Hotel has unveiled an exclusive travel and accommodation package to allow revellers to party the night away without any stress.

The Stonehaven Package includes a delicious three-course buffet meal, transport to and from Stonehaven, entry into the event, and traditional stovies on return.

Tickets are available from just £159.00 per person, for a two-night stay arriving on December 30 or 31.

With additional acts still to be announced, Stonehaven’s Hogmanay celebrations are set to rival those of major cities, building upon previous years which have seen Simple Minds and the Human League visit the picturesque coastal town in the north east of Scotland.

The town will also once again host the iconic Fireballs Ceremony to bring in the bells, during which dozens of locals will take to the streets to swing homemade fireballs through the air in an amazing and unforgettable display.

Built from a wire cage attached to a chain and filled with combustible material, the swingers spin and twirl the flaming balls to ward off the evil spirits of the past year as they parade through the town.

Kris Manship, general manager of The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, says,

“Deacon Blue are undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest musical exports, so to have them playing at the Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven is a real coup.

“Fans will be travelling from all across the country to spend the night dancing to anthems like Dignity and Real Gone Kid, and witness the incredible spectacle of the fireballs, and as the official hotel partner we will be able to provide them with an easy way to attend on the night.

“Our Stonehaven Hogmanay packages have been extremely popular in recent years, with many guests commenting that it takes all the pressure out of the evening, allowing them to relax and have fun at New Year. We look forward to welcoming many more to The Aberdeen Altens Hotel this year.”

For those wishing to spend an evening in the city itself, the Aberdeen Altens Hotel will also offer a special package for a New Year’s Gala Hogmanay Ball. Guests will be able to dance the night away to the incredible sounds of Velvet Five, as well as enjoying a welcome drink on arrival, sumptuous five course meal and traditional stovies served throughout the night. At just £90.00 per guest (or from £125.00 including bed and breakfast), it’s the perfect way to bring in the New Year with friends.

To book your Hogmanay celebrations at the Aberdeen Altens Hotel, call 0871 376 9002 or email

For more information, visit

The Aberdeen Altens Hotel is part of The Hotel Collection, which has two other venues in the city – The Aberdeen Skyway Hotel and The Caledonian Hotel. There are 446 bedrooms across the three venues, and each has conferencing and banqueting facilities. The Aberdeen Altens Hotel also has a health and leisure club. Further information is available at

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Nov 282014
Stonehaven Fireballs -  credit pic Paul Mitchell

In full swing; Stonehaven Fireballs – Credit: Paul Mitchell

With thanks to Stevie Brown, Account Manager, Tricker PR

Flaming balls of fire swing through the crowds while the sounds of legendary 80’s pop band The Human League soar through the air.

It can only be the world famous Stonehaven Hogmanay celebrations – taking place from 8.30pm on Wednesday 31st December 2014.

Over the years Stonehaven has achieved a legendary reputation as one of the top destinations to bring in the New Year.

The population of the tranquil seaside town of Stonehaven is set to more than double from 11,000 to over 25,000 as people from around the world descend on the area to attend the hugely anticipated events.

The Stonehaven Fireballs is a 105 year old tradition that sees a select group of ‘swingers’ make their way down the High Street in front of legions of spectators, whirling flaming balls of fire above their heads before throwing them into the harbour.

Fire has been used through the centuries as a symbol for destroying wicked spirits and purifying evil to make way for good fortune. And there is no better time to forget hardships and look forward to a bright future than New Year’s Eve. From the start of December the swingers begin to create their own fireballs from chicken wire, using various materials to fuel the flames. The spectacular sight is not to be missed and is set to delight the capacity crowd of 8,500 people.

Also taking place as part of Stonehaven’s Hogmanay celebrations is Open Air in the Square – an outdoor concert in the town centre which has featured music legends Simple Minds and The Red Hot Chili Pipers in the past. This year the event will feature 80’s pop band The Human League.

Securing a high profile band three years in a row is a huge coup for a small town like Stonehaven. The concert is attended by upwards of 6,000 and there is always a vibrant atmosphere. The evening will also include a performance from Scots folk band the Peatbog Faeries and another surprise guest is set to be announced soon.

With so much on offer it’s a fantastic place to visit and bring in 2015 – it’s definitely the hottest place to spend the Hogmanay.

Where to Stay: For those looking for a fuss free Hogmanay, Thistle Altens offers the Stonehaven Package from £99.00 per person.

This includes accommodation, wristbands to the event, transport to and from the hotel, stovies on return back at the hotel, New Year’s Day breakfast and a late checkout of 2pm.

To book or for more information please call 01224 244 603 or visit

How to get there: Stagecoach bus runs a regular service to Stonehaven. Visit for timetables. Parking is available on the streets throughout the town – normal restrictions apply.

For more information about the Fireballs Ceremony visit For more information about Open Air in the Square visit If you would like further information about Aberdeen then visit

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Dec 272011

By Bob Smith.

Anither ear it nears it’s eyn
Faar dis the time gyang tull
It seems jist like the ither day
Ma fusky gless wis full

Full ti toast the cummin ear
An listen ti the bells a-ringin
Fowk gyaan aroon the streets
Auld Lang Syne they war singin

Scots aa ower iss warld o oors
Wull seen raise a gless or twa
Ti fowk back hame in auld Scotia
Fin fae faimily they’re far awa

Hogmanay is close eence again
A time ti reflect on fit’s been
A time ti think back ower the ear
An raise a gless ti an absent freen

A time tho’ ti look forrit
Ti enjoy life an hae some fun
A time ti gie thanks ti yer Makker
Aat yer still abeen the grun

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011. Image Credit © Piotr Majka |

Dec 212011

By Bob Smith.

Christmas Eve in the 1940s
A myn o’t as tho’ twis last nicht
The livin room fire wis aye bleezin
An aathing wis bonnie an bricht

Paper chines hung fae the ceilin
An slap bang in the cinter a bell
Ti a wee loon in short troosers
Aathing  jist lookit richt swell

A Christmas tree wi didna hae
Oor roomies they war ower sma
Bit wi plunty o ither decorations
Aa nivver gied iss a thocht ava

A’d scriven ma letter ti Suntie
An sint it awa up the lum
An if he micht lave fit a wintit
Losh he wid fair be ma chum

On Christmas Eve on the wireless
Carol singin ma mither thocht braw
Good King Wenceslas he look’t oot
Aa he saw roon aboot wis sna

Ma lang sock a wid lave hingin up
It wis peened ti the muntelpiece
An ower aside the fireplace grate
Fer Suntie a’d lave a fine piece

Awa ti yer bed ma mither wid say
Suntie disna cum tull yer sleepin
Nae argument noo fae you a’ll hear
Or maybe yer present he’ll be keepin


Fae ma bedroom winda a peered oot
Ti see Suntie’s reindeer in the sky
Bit nae maitter foo lang a lookit
They nivver wid cum wanner’n by

On Christmas morn a hash’t ben
Ti see if ma letter hid bin heeded
A aye wis maist affa feart ye see
Maybe Suntie he cwidna read it

Afore ma verra een there wis
A widden boat ye pulled on wheels
Made a fun oot in later eers
By een o oor local chiels

Stappit in the lang sock ye’d fin
An orange an a fyow chocs
A  drawin book fer ti colour in
Wi crayons in a braw box

Christmas it wis a time fer bairns
Growen ups they preferred Hogmanay
Bit wi the kids o yesteryear they bade
Aroon the fire on a caul Christmas Day

Noo fowk  awa back in the forties
Didna hae  the siller ti splash oot
Bit bairns they war mair contintit
Than eens nooadays a’ve nae doot

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011

Jan 072011

By Fred Wilkinson.

Like many of our readers I’m sure, it is with mixed feelings that I take down the tree and pack away the baubles and tinsel. The old year is out, and the new one is suddenly almost a week in the making. For better or worse, normality returns and all the fuss is over for another year. Or is it?

In the Northeast village of Burghead in Moray, residents are looking forward with anticipation to their own unique annual Hogmanay celebration. Condemned in the 18th century by the church as  “an abominable, heathenish practice”, the Burning Of The Clavie is surely one of Scotland’s most bizarre and spectacular events.

The event takes place on 11th of January every year – or the 10th should the 11th fall on a Sunday – in correspondence with what was the last day of the year before our calendars were changed in 1660.

To summarise the event as simply the carrying of a burning barrel through the town fails to convey the deep-rooted and elaborate nature of the ceremony.

Fire has strong associations with Hogmanay.

From the symbolism of a single lump of coal as a first footing gift to wish comfort, health, and/or luck – or in other words the wish that the recipients ‘lum may aye reek’ – to the extravagance of the Edinburgh Fireworks display, The Burning Of The Clavie has more in common with the former, but with detail, ambition and meaning more in common with the procession of the Olympic flame.

The ceremony commences on the night with the clavie itself – a half barrel full of woodshavings and tar, which is nailed to a post. It is believed by some that the same nail is used every year. It is carried, borne on the shoulders of a single male resident to the home of the Burghead provost so that he can light the clavie with embers from his own fire. The flaming barrel is carried in turn by around 10 men, clockwise around the town, and embers from the barrel are presented to homes/households of significance.

The clavie is then carried to the ‘clavie stone’ – believed to be the altar of and old fort on Doorie Hill, where it is set down, and more fuel is added until the whole hillside is set ablaze.

The ceremony, in a manner similar to many rituals around the world, across faiths, and throughout the ages, is completed as attendees take away embers from the fire to light their own home fires on ‘New Years Day’ symbolising perhaps the cycle of life, renewal, the passing of cold winter and the promise of spring, or simply as the tradition dictates – for good luck.

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Dec 262010

By Peter Coutts.

It’s that time of year when everyone is frantically trying to pin down exactly which social gathering they will attend this Hogmanay. Well, the answer to your New Year party prayers is here….

The Blue Lamp will be hosting its second Hogmanay Hootenanny, on December 31, funnily enough.

Following the success of last year’s festivities, the Lampie is once again home to this tasty event, featuring the cream of local talent firing at you traditional and not-so-traditional music from both sides of the Atlantic.

Local 6-piece bluegrassers Smokin’ Catfish have been surprising audiences in Aberdeen for over two years with their stunning harmonies and foot-stomping live performances. This traditional bluegrass line up with its inbuilt rock ‘n’ roll attitude will wear out your dancing shoes in an explosion of high-octane, string-pickin’ fun.

Catford, new to the Aberdeen scene, feature local multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters Steve Crawford and Davy Cattanach, augmented by the amazing Jonny Hardie, Davy’s former Old Blind Dogs bandmate. The boys have just released a new album, Chronicles, which should be on your January sales shopping list. Driven by Steve and Davy’s percussion and guitar and underpinned by Jonny’s luxuriant strings, Catford’s blend of exquisite songs, jaw-dropping harmonies and virtuoso musicianship will leave you mesmerised.

Also joining in will be local firecracker and host of SHMU FM’s Monday Session, Naomi Ballantyne, an exciting local fiddler who will bring a smile to your face, a twitch to your toes and a song to your heart. Naomi will be joined by members of Catford and Smokin’ Catfish for a rip-roaring transatlantic session.

So, this Hogmanay, give yourself a last-gasp 2010 gift and get down to the best venue in Aberdeen and hae a rare auld time in the friendly atmosphere. Slainte mhath.

HOGMANAY HOOTENANNY, The Blue Lamp 31 December 2010, featuring

Smokin’ Catfish (kickass bluegrass)

Catford (Davy Cattanach, Steve Crawford, Jonny Hardie)

with special guest Naomi Ballantyne

8.30pm (onstage 9.30) till LATE