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Hogmanay heats up as Red Hot Highland Fling returns to the Northern Meeting Park, Inverness to see in the bells with a host of traditional talent – including Skipinnish, Torridon and Dorec-a-belle


By Kyle Walker

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Comedian and Fling host Craig Hill leads revellers through last year's Red Hot Highland Fling. Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 042876.
Comedian and Fling host Craig Hill leads revellers through last year's Red Hot Highland Fling. Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 042876.

AFTER a 2019 that everybody can agree has been anything but boring, revellers from across the region have a chance to unwind as Hogmanay hits the Highlands.

Village halls, bars and homes across the north of Scotland will be filled by the sound of cheers and beers as Scotland comes together to celebrate the end of an old year and the beginning of a new – all soundtracked no doubt by a few singalongs of Auld Lang Syne.

And for Inverness, the biggest event of the new year returns for another outdoor spectacle, as the Red Hot Highland Fling invites all-comers to a winter shindig.

Marketing itself as Scotland’s biggest free New Year celebrations, the Highland Council-backed event returns to the Northern Meeting Park for another evening of traditional tunes and stand up delights.

For this year’s party, the Council have secured the services of a band eager to make sure that 2019 ends with a bang – bringing trad-rockers Skipinnish back to the Park as headliners.

The band will be performing their final gig of 2019 at the Fling, taking the middle slot of the evening to bring their year of 20th anniversary celebrations to a close.

No strangers to Highland Hogmanay revellers, the trad band headlined the festivities at the end of 2017.

Formed in 1999 by accordionist Angus MacPhail and bagpipist Andrew Stevenson, Skipinnish have had a massive 2019 – celebrating two decades of traditional music together with a new album Steer By the Stars.

The band also played their biggest concert to date, bringing their energetic sets and songs to more than 4000 people under a big top tent at Bught Park in July as part of this year’s Live in the City concert series. The band have also lined up a return to the same venue in 2020.

Opening the night’s entertainment will be folk quintet Dorec-a-belle. Fronted by Artyness columnist and accordionist Liza Mulholland, guitarist MaryAnn Frew and saxophonist Bev Fraser, this year marks a welcome return to the Fling for the band – who last played the Inverness Hogmanay event in 2013.

And the final band of the evening playing through the bells will be local folk-rockers Torridon. The trad-rockers – fronted by band co-founder Kenny Smith – have also had a huge 2019.

The band released a new album, Break the Chains, in September and have played across the country, including a headline show at the Ironworks festival.

Returning to host the event once more and keep things moving at a brisk pace will be long-standing Fling compere Craig Hill.

The stand-up comedian from East Kilbride has been hosting the event since 2011 and has been a reliable presence over the years to Highland revellers.

This year saw the comic return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the 21st year in a row with his 21st new show in a row – Bottoms Up! – and perform across the world, including at the Sydney Comedy Festival.

The Red Hot Highland Fling returns to the Northern Meeting Park on Hogmanay (Tuesday). The show starts at 8pm, and entry is free. For more information, go to www.invernessfestivals.com


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