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24 Doors Of Advent | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
24 Doors Of Advent | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
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24 Doors Of Advent: Edinburgh's Locked Doors Open To The Public

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 9 February 2017
Whether you’re a Christmas enthusiast or not, the flurry of excitement in the air the moment you open your advent calendar each December morning can’t be denied. Although not dipped in chocolate, Edinburgh has an alternative advent treat in store. With each new day, a different place opens its doors. 24 Doors Of Advent is a spectacular, free affair, catering to those with an affinity for architecture (or nosiness). Here, Culture Trip unveils the chosen buildings beckoning to be explored.

1st December 10am – 4pm | Assembly Rooms

A popular Fringe hangout, The Assembly Rooms on George Street is an exquisite Georgian building adorned with resplendent chandeliers, a decadent ballroom and fairytale mirrors. This stunner has witnessed two World Wars, mingled with royalty and hosted many a shindig.

Assembly Rooms | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
Assembly Rooms | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

2nd December 11am – 7pm | Summerhall

From serving as a 1700s brewery to becoming a veterinary college, Summerhall has quite the reputation. Fascinating secrets lie in the Dissection Room and Grand Main Hall. The highlights, however, are the current in-house businesses, such as Pickering’s Gin, Barney’s Beer, animator Iain Gardner, artist Ethel Maude and more.

3rd December 1pm – 5pm | Chapel Of St Albert The Great

A tiny Catholic Chapel of great prominence and contemporary design, the Chapel Of St Albert the Great opened in 2012 and is nestled away in a hidden spot.

4th December 10am – 4pm | The Secret Herb Garden

A triple threat, The Secret Herb Garden is a herb nursery, café, and shop all in one. Situated at the foot of the magnificent Pentlands, this magical glasshouse hosts a fairy path, natural grotto and questionable green man in the place of Santa!

5th December 9am – 5pm | Augustine United Church

Filled with festive refreshments and cheer, Augustine United Church, an inclusive congregation of the United Reformed Church and named after Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo, divulges their heritage on this day.

6th December 1pm – 5pm | St. Giles’ Cathedral

Capable of transforming even the greatest cynic, St. Giles’ Cathedral is an architectural wonder filled with surprises. From the Thistle Chapel and stalls for the 16 knights, to angels playing bagpipes, this is your chance to learn about the architecture of Edinburgh’s beloved cathedral.

St Giles | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
St Giles | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

7th December 12.30pm – 4.30pm | Royal Lyceum Theatre

Built in 1883, The Royal Lyceum Theatre is a fine Victorian building and a thespian’s mecca. Many a show has occurred here, including performances from Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. If not already in Wonderland, catch a show of this classic tale on the 7th December.

8th December 10am – 3.30pm | Temperate Palm House At The Royal Botanic Garden

The tallest glasshouse in the British Isles, the Temperate Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden is a true icon. Discover more about the plant collection inside with a guided tour.

9th December 10am – 4pm | BT Murrayfield Stadium

Murrayfield Stadium, home to the Scotland rugby team and pride and joy to rugby fans, will open its doors and provide free stadium tours. A gander around the stadium library and accompanying exhibits complete with exclusive artifacts is well advised.

BT Murrayfield Stadium | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
BT Murrayfield Stadium | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

10th December 10am – 4.30pm | The Scottish Parliament

This is your chance to delve deep into the secrets surrounding the Scottish HQ. From an unexpected ghost story and a wander around the 17th century Queensberry House to in-depth architecture and design discussions, the fun never ends.

11th December 1pm-5pm | Thomson’s Tower – Dr Neil’s Garden

One of Edinburgh’s many hidden treasures, Dr Neil’s Garden, along with Thomson’s Tower in Duddingston Village, beckons exploration. Linked with many historic figures, this isn’t just any old garden.

12th December 9am – 4pm | Hermitage House

Surrounded by fabulous walks and concealed by enchanting clusters of trees, Hermitage House, which was built in 1785 by Robert Burn, is a magnificent edifice worth visiting. The doocot, walled garden, icehouse and water pump system are each as impressive as the next.

Hermitage House | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
Hermitage House | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

13th December at 9.30am and 11am | Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory Tours

The Poppy Factory is one of Edinburgh’s most commendable businesses. Through employing 40 disabled ex-servicemen and women, this supported business focuses on manufacturing everything to do with the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal. Tours will be available to explain the history of the poppy, along with its significance today.

14th December 10am – 3pm | Corstorphine Dower House

From archived artifacts and old photographs to maps, numerous documents, and old parish and census records, don’t underestimate the compact space of the museum inside The Dower House. With a history tracing back to the 1500s, there’s plenty in store.

Corstorphin Dower House | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
Corstorphin Dower House | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

15th December 10am – 6pm | Scottish Storytelling Centre

Always the life and soul of the party, The Scottish Storytelling Centre preserves Scotland’s vibrant heritage and reignites the cultural importance of oral narratives through various events, performances, social gatherings and festivals. Get the inside scoop from talks with the director of the International Storytelling Festival, Donald Smith, and explore the tale behind the buildings.

16th December 1pm – 5pm | Traverse Theatre

A hotbed of contemporary works and riveting new shows, The Traverse Theatre is a much-loved venue known for producing a myriad of highly regarded plays. Not only that, they showcase the best of dance, performance, music and spoken word.

Traverse Theatre | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
Traverse Theatre | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

17th December 10am – 4pm | Riddle’s Court

Don the suitable footwear and decode the meaning behind Riddle’s Court. Discover the necessary steps involved to adapt and preserve historic buildings and witness interior decoration styles spanning from the 16th to 20th centuries.

18th December 10.30am – 3.30pm | Mansfield Traquair Centre

A former Catholic Apostolic church, The Mansfield Traquair Centre was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. The main highlight is the mural painted by Phoebe Anna Traquair in the late 1800s.

19th December 10am – 3pm | National Library Of Scotland

Tour Scotland’s largest book paradise, The National Library of Scotland, and venture into the ‘void’, an underground cavity underneath George IV Bridge.

National Library of Scotland | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
National Library of Scotland | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

20th December 9am – 5pm | The Royal Incorporation Of Architects In Scotland

Architecture enthusiasts can delight in the guided tours at The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland headquarters, a Georgian townhouse situated in the West End.

21st December 10am- 6pm | St Andrew’s And St. George’s West

Situated in the New Town, St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church is a sacred sanctuary worth exploring.

22nd December 12pm – 4pm | Dovecot Studios

What was once a medieval hospital and Victorian swimming baths is now a revered international tapestry studio and innovative hub of contemporary art, design, and crafts.

Dovecot Studios | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas
Dovecot Studios | Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

23rd December 11am-3pm | Canongate Kirk

Founded in 1688 and designed by James Smith, Canongate Kirk, with its architecturally interesting elements, features a cruciform plan and illuminating baroque interiors.

24th December 9am – 5.30pm | Church of St John the Evangelist

As the only church on Princes Street, St John’s stands out with its Perpendicular Gothic design and walls of unassuming yet alluring stained glass. Built in 1818, the graveyard is worth a visit to see the memorials commemorating Sir Henry Raeburn and Sir Walter Scott.