Stonehaven fireballs ceremony cancelled for a second year

Stonehaven’s traditional Fireballs ceremony on Homanay has been cancelled for a second year.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 12:14 pm
The fireballs ceremony has long been a tradition in Stonehaven on Hogmanay.

In a post on the group’s Facebook page, organises said this was not the post they wanted to be writing but had decided to cancel the ceremony due to advice issued by the Scottish Government in the past few days in relation to the escalation of the Omicrom variant.

The statement said: “Whilst there are no fresh guidelines around events such as ours (yet), we feel that it just would not be right to run at this point.

"We are so proud of Stonehaven and of the Fireballs Ceremony, but we also feel we have a duty of care to the town’s residents (and in particular those in the auld toon) to not expose them to any more risk than necessary. They put up with so much from us under ‘normal’ circumstances!

"We need to say a massive thank you to Aberdeenshire Council (all departments involved), Police Scotland and the Fire Service for all their help and encouragement in getting the event planned and green-lighted in the first place. We know they are as disappointed as the rest of us.

"It’s frustrating to have to make this decision so soon after announcing that it was on in the first place.

“To our main sponsor, Stewart Milne Homes also a huge thank you. They have stuck with us for many years now, and have continued to show great support - it is very much appreciated.

"We can’t do the event without the continued support of all our other, local sponsors - here’s to celebrating properly next year! We’re as gutted as you guys.

"To the public who were looking forward to joining us to welcome in the New Year: sad times again for 2021/22, but we will be back again for sure to celebrate Hogmanay in true Stonehaven style!

“We hope you all can understand our position on this. Not an easy decision, but one that had to be made.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and as happy a New Year as it can be. Stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you all next year!”

The Stonehaven Fireballs ceremony is perhaps one of the most unique of all Hogmanay celebrations.

This ancient tradition sees locals parade the town streets, swinging the heavy fire-balls above their heads.

The fireballs are made from combustile and oily waste matter, like rags and twigs, which are packed into wire cages and attached to strong, five-foot-long wire ropes. The rags are soaked in paraffin and held together in the wire cases.

To ensure safety, the balls are made as heavy as the swinger can comfortably lift, usually weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. In the past, some balls can be 3 feet in diameter and have been recorded to have lasted for two hours! These days, however, the balls can be lit for a maximum of 20 minutes.

As a symbol of the end of the celebration, the fireballs are thrown into the sea.