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It’s no lie that the Scots love a good old knees-up kind of shindig. Whether the Festival Fringe, Hogmanay or Christmas, they’re guaranteed to find a glorious excuse no matter what. From twinkling streets of light and festive markets to ice skating and more-ish gastronomic delights, here’s how to celebrate Christmas Scottish-style in Edinburgh.
Resplendent and enchanting to the core, the Street of Light is the kind of thing dreams are made of. Watch in awe as the west end of George Street dazzles and dances with approximately 60,000 bulbs and 24 gargantuan arches, adorned with light after light. The perfect festive activity to infuse you with unwavering cheer, visiting this extravagant display will leave you feeling like Clark Griswold the moment his lights miraculously spring into full splendour (without the hassle of endless cables and unwanted surprise visits from certain family members)!
A true wonderland, the European Christmas Market is one of the best parts of Edinburgh at Christmas. An impressive transformation, every level of the east Princes Street Gardens hosts countless stalls featuring bespoke ornaments, nutcrackers galore, and beautiful hand made crafts. From mini crêpes and chocolate marshmallow kisses in a multitude of flavours to German meats, artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches, and fresh strawberries hand-dipped in the finest Belgian chocolate, you can’t help but be merry all the way. No visit to the market would be complete without barrels of mulled wine, hot toddies (even an apple gin option), and the silkiest smooth hot chocolate. To avoid having a nose as red as Rudolph’s, be sure to wear at least three pairs of socks with extra layers.
Don’t be alarmed if you witness swathes of Santas merrily making their way across the west Princes Street Gardens on Sunday, 11th December. It’s just the good people of Edinburgh partaking in festive cheer and fundraising for When You Wish Upon A Star, a charity that helps provide hope and sparkle for children in Scotland living with a life threatening illness. With a brief 2.5km circuit, Santas can walk, stroll, roll and even skip at whichever pace they please. Those who love some healthy rivalry can enter into the best-dressed dog or pushchair competition.
A noble sight, the Christmas tree on The Mound was made to be marveled at. A gift to Edinburgh from Hordaland County Council in Norway, this tree joins the Castle and the Scott Monument as another towering wonder in Edinburgh. Adorned with over 3,000 lights, each with multiple bulbs, this is a prime selfie spot.
Those with dilapidated festive spirits may wish to take a trip to Santa Land. It will be make or break! From the mini rollercoaster and magical carousel to the classic fairground helter skelter, and the meandering train, you may as well be in the North Pole. Standing out from the crowd are the Big Wheel and Star Flyer, the perfect rides when seeking breathtaking views of the city. Once again, this year’s Christmas tree maze is worth getting lost in.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without seeing a whole host of sensational shows, especially in the artistic playground of Edinburgh. From classics suited to all the family like Black Beauty and Alice In Wonderland, to the epic one-man show Last Christmas, a hilarious performance of Morgan & West: A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show, Hansel & Gretel in ballet form, or the musical extravaganza Five Guys Named Moe, make it your mission to experience them all.
A fabulous showcase of the best eats from across Scotland, let your mouth water and stomach sing after a visit to the Scottish Market. Situated on West George Street until the 24th December, this delicious affair sports a dreamland of stalls, each containing artisanal, locally produced craft food and drink. This is the perfect spot to source goodies for a foodie stocking or last minute supplies for festive parties.
Let go of any inhibitions and swan about like a pro on the pop-up ice rink at St Andrew Square. For those who can’t grasp that rhythmic, synchronized, superhuman skating movement thing, there is always the bar, stocked to the limits with mulled wine and other soothing beverages. This picture-perfect circular ice rink offers a beautiful 360 degree journey.
Those who love a good nose inside usually locked doors will jump for joy over the 24 Doors of Advent. An innovative collaboration with The Festival of Architecture and Royal Incorporation of Architects Scotland (RIAS), this unique free event opens the doors and beckons you to explore some of Edinburgh’s most brilliant buildings. From the Chapel of St Albert The Great to the Temperate Palms House at the Royal Botanic Garden, there’s always more than meets the eye.