It doesn’t get any better than Scotland when it comes to bringing in the New Year. From ancient traditions like first footing to 21st century street parties, it’s the place to be for Hogmanay.

The town of Falkirk is extending the traditional New Year celebrations even further – into a two-day event at The Helix, home of the iconic Kelpies, that’s becoming a must-do on the Scottish calendar.

The 2019 Fire and Light event on January 1 and 2 promises to be bigger, better and, literally, out of this world. Here are five reasons to make The Kelpies your first stop of 2019.

  1. New Year, New You? Check off all your resolutions at once

We all make those New Year’s resolutions: we’ll get healthier, we’ll exercise more, we’ll spend more time with the family. With Fire and Light: Cosmic Fortunes you can do all three at once.

Fire and Light is an illuminated outdoor show and 4K walk at The Helix in Falkirk. It sees the home of The Kelpies transformed into a family event like no other, with interactive light installations, performers, puppetry and amazing art.

Plus, walking from The Helix to The Kelpies and back will burn between 150 and 220 calories – a great start to your new, healthy regime.

 

  1. You’ll be witnessing a Scottish arts premiere (and channelling your inner astronaut)

The centrepiece of this year’s Fire and Light event is Gaia, a seven-metre-wide floating 3D sculpture of the Earth by international installation artist Luke Jerram. We all know what the moon looks like from Earth, but what’s it like viewing the Earth from space like astronauts do?

That’s what Gaia does; it features NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface and there’s not a detail spared. Viewing it will give people a realistic idea of the ‘overview effect’ astronauts experience when they’re in Space looking down at our planet.

Fire and Light will be Gaia’s third UK outing – it was formerly at the Bluedot Festival in Cheshire and the Natural History Museum in London – and a first for Scotland.

 

  1. Everyone loves a horse’s head 

Not to sound too Mafioso, but horse’s heads are the business – especially when they’re 30 metres high and weigh 300 tonnes.

Kelpies are mythological beasts said to possess the strength and endurance of 10 horses. So it was fitting that they became the inspiration for Andy Scott’s giant monuments – and what have become the world’s largest equine sculptures. The sculptor says they represent industry, strength and Scottish pride.

One of the biggest real-life horses in the world was a Clydesdale named Carnera, standing at more than 19 hands high. Carnera pulled wagons for local drinks firm A.G. Barr, makers of Irn Bru. So no surprises that The Kelpies feature in Irn-Bru’s new Christmas ad, based on Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman. The ad sees the Snowman and the little boy flying over the Kelpies as they wrangle mid-air over a can of Irn-Bru.

 

  1. It’s written in the stars

In keeping with this year’s cosmic theme, Fire and Light will be making visitors starry-eyed in more ways than one.

Visiting for the first time are the Wishing Fairies, who carry magical frozen dewdrops ‘harvested’ at the first frost of winter. The fairies can see the future in
them, and visitors can use them to make kind wishes. (They’re also a perfect post-festive gift for the kids – not a piece of plastic nor grain of sugar in sight.

Straight out of the same magical woods as the Wishing Fairies comes Granny Lichen Leaf, a 543-year-old medicine woman who can read your fortune in the tea leaves. Both sets of characters come courtesy of Rowanbank Environmental Arts and Education in North Berwick.

Lastly, an animated light display will encompass the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

 

  1. You’ll be supporting a unique arts collaboration

Complementing Luke Jerram’s Gaia will be 12 other sculptures of planets, the result of a unique arts collaboration between Falkirk teenagers and two Glasgow artists.

Eighteen students from Graeme, Larbert and Braes High Schools in Falkirk worked with Glasgow based Jane McInally and Pearl Kinnear in a series of workshops at Glasgow Sculpture Studios.

Together with Scotland-based artists David Powell, Pyroceltica, Double Take Projections and Vision Mechanics, Fire and Light: Cosmic Fortunes is expected to draw a record 11,000 visitors.