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Scotland Fire Festival - The Stonehaven Fireball

Whirling Balls of Fire at Midnight to Mark the New Year

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Stonehaven Fireball Festival

Stonehaven Fireball Festival

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
  • What: The brave - or the foolhardy - whirl balls of fire, creating an orgy of flame on the high street for Hogmanay, the Scottish New Years.
  • When: Midnight, New Year's Eve.
  • Where: Stonehaven, a North Sea fishing port, south of Aberdeen in Scotland
  • Admission: Free
  • Website

An Exciting and Terrifying Spectacle

At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, up to 45 local people - sometimes some in kilts -  light up the high street of this North Sea coastal town, whirling flaming balls, attached to wire handles, over and around their heads. The marchers, led by a piper, make their way through the center of town from the Market Cross to the harbor, where they throw their flaming balls into the sea.

Origins of the Festival

The Stonehaven Fireball Festival arose from a 19th century fishermen's festival but it is likely that the use of purifying flame to word off evil spirits and to endow the fishing fleet with luck has pre-Christian origins.

At one time, only those born in the burgh of Stonehaven could participate. In the 1960s when the festival began to decline the rules were changed and, today, anyone can take part. Annually, at least 12,000 people fill the town to watch the spectacle.

 

Watch the Stonehaven Fireball on the Internet

Stonehaven has a live webcam, tuned on the harbor where the festival ends as all the fire baskets are thrown into the sea. Keeping in mind that webcams often go offline just when you need them, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the end of the procession by clicking on the Stonehaven Harbor Webcam on New Year's Eve.

If that doesn't satisfy your inner firebug, Watch a video of the Stonehaven Fireball Swingers on YouTube.

Find a place to stay near Stonehaven

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