It's almost as if the Grinch had stolen Christmas. Difficult as it may be to believe, thousands of tickets for this year's Hogmanay party in Edinburgh remain unsold. It had become our favourite party, even outshining Sydney, London and Tokyo for spectacle and exhilaration. How could it have come to this miserable pass? For years the world has looked to Scotland's capital to host the biggest and best New Year's bash. It used to be an overwhelmingly cheesy affair, all tartan, oatcakes, Moira Anderson and Kenneth McKellar. Now, like the rest of the new Scotland, it is thoroughly contemporary, though retaining a few traditional touches.
However, a more unwelcome tradition has grown up recently: the annual cancellation of the Hogmanay festivities. Two of the last four have been canned, much to the annoyance of the city's partygoers, though perhaps not so much for some residents of the central part of town who have had to pick their way through what might politely be called the debris of the previous night's excesses.
Tickets for the event on Princes Street have usually gone by the end of October, but officials say there are still plenty available just over a month before the festivities and that's with Kasabian, Calvin Harris and Idlewild ready to jolly things along.
Our advice is to take a chance on Edinburgh; even if they junk the outdoor party you ought to be able to find one or two other diversions around the town (Cabaret Voltaire, Tiger Lily and Ocean Terminal are apparently some of the better venues). And allow us to be the first to sing a verse of "Auld Lang Syne" and wish you happy Hogmanay.