Top Things To Do And See In Edinburgh At Christmas

Outside The Witchery | © Claire Knights
Outside The Witchery | © Claire Knights
Gale force winds and icy temperatures aside, Edinburgh is one of the best cities to be in during the Christmas period. With Christmas markets and cosy pubs, and not to mention the restaurants tucked into every corner of the city, even for the most committed scrooge it’s hard not to feel the festive cheer.
German Market © Katherine/Flickr

German Christmas Market

The German Christmas Market, which has been running in the city centre for the past 20 years, is an Edinburgh classic. Selling anything and everything from hot toddies and Knödel to woolly hats and Christmas trinkets, the market serves as the perfect place to indulge in some festive shopping. It also includes a 60-metre-high ‘Star Flyer’ offering a 360-degree view over Edinburgh (if you can keep your eyes open whilst up in the air). Or for those who would prefer to take in the city at a slower pace, the big wheel has 36 enclosed pods that offer a more leisurely way to view the Edinburgh skyline.

Scottish Market

Market, British
Outside The Witchery
Outside The Witchery | Outside The Witchery
For something more unique to Edinburgh, visitors can also go to the Scottish Market at St Andrew Square. The market offers a range of Scottish goods from locally produced sausages to Edinburgh-distilled gin and Scottish-brewed craft beer. The market also plays a range of classic Christmas tunes to get you in the Christmas mood.
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Christmas meal at The Witchery

The Witchery, set just behind the castle, is an Edinburgh institution. Named for the hundreds of women burnt in the 17th century on Castlehill, the owners have created a distinctly historical ambiance. The dining room is oak panelled and tapestries line the walls while exposed beams run across the ceiling. Diners eat by candlelight in the mock Jacobean Tavern. Expect a top quality roast made to satisfy even the most traditional Christmas enthusiast.

24 Doors of Advent

This year, Underbelly Ltd. has created ‘24 Doors of Advent’ — a real-life advent calendar which grants Edinburgians and visitors access to several iconic buildings across the city. Between the 1st and the 24th of December, buildings normally closed to the Edinburgh public open their doors. Visitors are given the opportunity to explore some of the city’s most impressive monuments from the Assembly Rooms to the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and even to the Talbot Rice Gallery, and so much more.

St Andrew Square Ice Rink © Graham Campbell/Flickr

Ice Skating

This year, the Edinburgh Christmas ice rink is set up round the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square. Set in the heart of the Christmas market, enjoy a whip around the rink to some classic Christmas tunes before grabbing a hot toddy or a beer from the surrounding stalls.

The Dome © This is Edinburgh/Flickr

The Dome

The Dome is well worth a visit, even just to take a look at their Christmas decorations. The fairy-light and ivy-clad Corinthian columns that stand at the entrance to the venue are probably the most Instagrammed Christmas feature in Edinburgh. The inside is no let down either; expect to find oversized Christmas wreaths, Christmas lights hanging from every available space and a monumental Christmas tree. Enjoy a festive drink with mulled wine with wild winterberry and apple crumble martinis on the cocktail menu.

St Giles’ Cathedral © John/Flickr

The University Carol Service

For a bit of festive singing, it’s well worth going to the University Carol Service, hosted this year at St Giles’ Cathedral. The concert will include a range of performances from the Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Renaissance Singers as well as opportunities for belting out your favourite carols in the congregation. It gets busy, so make sure to arrive early in order to get a seat.