Stonehaven’s Fireballs ceremony: top tips

One of last year's intrepid Fireball swingers
One of last year's intrepid Fireball swingers

As someone who has grown up in Stonehaven, the Fireballs procession up and down the High Street each Hogmanay has been a regular feature each year to bring in the New Year.

The famous procession consists of mainly local people of all ages swinging flaming wire cages, around their heads. Each cage is filled with combustible material (each swinger has their own recipe) and has a wire handle two or three feet long. The event starts at midnight, lasts twenty-five minutes and is watched by thousands. The idea behind the ceremony is to burn off the bad spirits left from the old year so that the spirits of the New Year can come in clean and fresh.

As well as attracting the locals, thousands of people travel to Stonehaven each Hogmanay to see the spectacle. So, if this is going to be your first time at the Fireballs, here are some tips which you might find useful.

1. Parking - If at all possible, leave your car at home and walk to the Fireballs. If you are coming from further afield, you should be prepared to have to park some distance away from the High Street, where the Fireballs take place. Stonehaven can be very busy on New Year’s Eve, but please don’t be tempted to park somewhere you shouldn’t.

Find somewhere safe to park and walk.

2. Wrap up warm - It’s an obvious one, but being properly prepared could mean the difference between having a good night or having to leave early. Take a hat, gloves and scarf, and don’t forget to take waterproofs - you can never be too prepared for the unpredictable Scottish weather. You might want to leave the umbrella at home though - never a good idea in a crowd!

3. Give yourself plenty of time to get there, but don’t arrive too early. The barriers will be shut as soon as the maximum number of spectators have arrived, and it is tempting to arrive very early to make sure you have secured your place at the front, but remember you will be standing around in the cold and the Fireballs don’t start until midnight.

4. Don’t forget to put a donation in the bucket! The Fireballs is a free event, but it could not continue without the support from donations on the night. There are a lot of costs involved, and donations have dropped in recent years. So do your bit to show your appreciation and make it a bumper year for the Fireballs committee, and help to secure the future of this unique ceremony.

5. Bring a smile. Stonehaven folk are renowned for their friendliness on Hogmanay, but, as with anywhere where big crowds gather, a bit of patience, understanding and good spirits can go a long way to making your night a special one.