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The Hogmanay Bonfire has been a tradition for the Lawrence Historical Society since 1997. The bonfire began as a way to showcase the Brearley House while it was being renovated and proved to be so popular it has become an annual event.

The first bonfire was suggested by Joe Logan, who recalled similar fires that took place in his childhood home of Savannah, Georgia. The bonfires of his boyhood were a New Year's Eve community celebration to mark the end of the holiday season with the burning of the year's Christmas trees.

LHS took Logan's suggestion and combined it with Hogmanay, another festival that often includes bonfires and a large community gathering. It is our hope that you will enjoy our gift to the community by bringing along your family and friends to celebrate a new year and have a good time.

Hogmanay is a Scottish New Year's celebration that has it roots in Pagan tradition. To this day, Hogmanay is the main winter holiday and includes many Christmas-like features, such as gift giving.

The most important aspect of any Hogmanay celebration is cleansing for the new year. Cleansing includes paying off old debts, washing the home, and banishing thoughts of bad happenings from the previous year.

Other traditions include the banging of pots at midnight to ward off dark spirits, banishing stray dogs to keep evil at bay, and firstfooting - a tradition of visiting friends and relatives at midnight to bring them good cheer to start off the new year.

Hogmanay 2023

Hogmanay 2023 will take place from 5:30 - 7:00 pm on December 31st.


The Brearley House will be open for tours throughout the event and the Society's Junior Historians club will be hosting activities for children, including a Brearley House scavenger hunt. Food vendors also will be onsite. The bonfire itself will be lit promptly at 6 pm and a bagpiper will be on hand to entertain attendees.

Attendees are invited to prepare a list of bad memories from 2023 in advance to throw into the bonfire. Paper and pencils will be available in case anyone wants to compile their list onsite.


Parking will be offsite at the Corporate Center on Lenox Drive.  Visitors are asked to enter the lot at the light on Princeton Pike and Lenox Drive.  Follow the road to the rear lots, where you can either walk a lighted trail to Brearley House or take a shuttle.  Shuttle service is being provided through a generous grant from the Lawrence Township Community Foundation.


​Please leave your pets at home.  The crowds at the bonfire do tend to be large, making it difficult to control animals that get excited or frightened by the crowd. 

Wood donations

Please be aware that state regulations limit the size of the fire and the type of wood that can be burned. As a result, we cannot accept donated wood. All of the firewood for Hogmanay 2023 is being provided courtesy of Princeton Tree Care.


For more information, please feel free the contact the Society via e-mail or call us at 609-462-2730.

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