CNN Photos

Vikings bring in New Year with ‘river of fire’

People all over the world dress up on the eve of the New Year. But in Edinburgh, Scotland, the locals take dressing up to a new extreme – by dressing as Vikings. Photographer Jeff J. Mitchell captured the beginning of this annual event, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, or last day of the year, celebrations.

The torch-lit procession meanders through the historic city, kicking off the four-day celebrations of the closing of an old year and the start of a new. The participants experienced a wetter evening this year, Mitchell said, creating difficulties for him.

“Getting the right exposure on a dark and wet Scottish evening” was a challenge, the Getty Images photographer said, only to be “complicated by the light rising and falling with the torches and moving around the vast crowd.”

Edinburghshogmanay.org invites people to gather and watch the “torch carriers as they create a river of fire” through the district, ending with a firework display.

“The fireworks were new and very spectacular,” Mitchell said.

Adults, children, locals and tourists attend “a very relaxed and friendly event,” with numbers ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 attendees, Mitchell said, allowing for plenty of beautiful photos.

“My favorite shot is the two boys with the Jarl squad members [on] either side of them. Apart from a few modern distractions, it could be a real medieval Viking raiding party,” the Scottish photographer said. “Fortunately, these Vikings were here to party.”

- Elizabeth I. Johnson