Great Balls of Fire

Standing near the Harbour in Stonehaven at 11:30pm on Monday December 31, I could feel the excitement building as the swingers passed us holding their unlit fireballs. Stonehaven pipe band could be heard above excited exclamations as they played (accompanied by some slightly drunken singing) O Flower of Scotland and to my right one young boy excitedly asked his dad “when will they bring the fire?”

Having lived in Aberdeen my whole life, I decided it was past time that I experienced the famous Stonehaven fireballs, and having seen first hand the horrendous flooding experienced by families and businesses in the town I decided that I would see in 2013 in Stonehaven and join the community in celebrating some good news.

We arrived at about 10pm, a time which I kept saying to my other half would be too early, but I was wrong. Walking through the streets of the town Stonehaven really was alive on Hogmanay with Open Air in the Square filling the town with music and the Streets chock-a-block with cheerful people singing along and getting ready to welcome in the New Year.

Despite arriving at 10pm, walking down towards the Harbour the streets were filling fast and queues outside the bars at the Harbour were long, but full of good cheer. We got a space next to the barrier and watched as the roads flled up.

Entertainment was provided by a group of local drummers and as the New Year drew closer Stonehaven pipe band came along to warm everybody up.

Soon we were counting “3...2...1” and an almighty cheer and a “Happy New Year” came from the crowd. Suddenly the street was filled with blazing balls of light as the swingers started their journey and welcomed in the New Year.

It was incredible, having not seen the spectacle before I had no idea quite how big the fireballs are, how much heat they would give off (this was greatly welcomed as after standing for two hours I was freezing!) or how physical an effort swinging the fireball is- swingers I salute you. I certainly couldn’t have gone up and down the street like that.

I spent the first 20 or so minutes of 2013 transfixed watching these massive flames as they were swung past me before they were put out in the sea.

Then I stood once again transfixed as the fireworks were let off signalling the end of 2012 and the beginning of a New Year. It was an incredible night and is one I will never forget.

What a way to see in the New Year and what a way for Stonehaven to come together after recent floods. I think I speak for all my fellow revellers when I say “A great night was had by all”.