Stonehaven’s Hogmanay Fireballs event has been cancelled for the second year in a row amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant across Scotland.
Thousands of people normally attend the Aberdeenshire town at New Year to watch the parade, which involves participants swinging large flaming balls around their heads
Event organisers said they took the decision following the new guidance around social distancing outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Parliament this week.
In a statement posted online, they said: “Whilst there are no fresh guidelines around events such as ours (yet), we feel that it just would not be right to run at this point.
“We are so proud of Stonehaven and of the Fireballs Ceremony, but we also feel we have a duty of care to the town’s residents (and in particular those in the auld toon) to not expose them to any more risk than necessary.
“They put up with so much from us under ‘normal’ circumstances!! We need to say a massive thank you to Aberdeenshire Council (all departments involved), Police Scotland and the Fire Service for all their help & encouragement in getting the event planned and green-lighted in the first place.
“We know they are as disappointed as the rest of us. It’s frustrating to have to make this decision so soon after announcing that it was on in the first place.”
“We’re as gutted as you guys.”
The announcement comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a plea for people to cut down on contact with other households in the run-up to Christmas.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Sturgeon warned of the rise in Omicron cases, as she explained that measures, such as those seen in supermarkets at the start of the pandemic, would return.