The Scottish capital might be more famous for its epic four-day street party in celebration of Hogmany, the Scottish New Year, but Edinburgh also hosts some of Europe’s most lively Christmas celebrations so head to the city in time to soak up the Christmas spirit.
Light Night kicks off the Christmas season on December 29th, when the city’s award-winning light displays and Christmas decorations are unveiled. A giant Christmas Tree, gifted from Norway, is erected on the Mound; the historic Dome restaurant puts up its famously inventive decorations including a huge upside-Christmas tree suspended from its domed roof and George Street shops compete for the most spectacular festive window displays. The Princes Street Gardens are home to some of the city’s most spectacular events including a 33-meter-high Ferris Wheel, Europe’s largest open-air ice rink and a Santa’s grotto complete with reindeer garden and a ‘Santa Express’ train that chugs up and down Princes Street. The Christmas fair is here too, with a Helter Skelter, Flying Carousel and a gravity-defying bungee snowdome, joining the Big Wheel.
Edinburgh’s Christmas markets are some of the most unique in the UK and there are plenty of options for all tastes. The German Christmas Market is a popular choice, serving up jugs of Glühwein (spiced, mulled wine), grilled sausages and German beer alongside a range of stalls selling traditional crafts and gifts. For something a wee bit more traditional, the Highland Village Christmas Market will satisfy your souvenir cravings with plenty of local treats. Pick up a tartan-wearing Scottish teddy bear, hand-knitted woolly hat or Christmas kilt in a photo-worthy location beneath the city’s Ferris Wheel. Don’t miss out the city’s seasonal events either. The Scottish Snowsports Festival hits Princes Street in December with a purpose-built real snow ski slope erected in the city, the Hog Street competition sees new bands compete for a slot at the Hogmany music festival or join the annual ‘Great Scottish Santa Run’, where hundreds of Santa-dressed runners circle the Princes street Gardens – a unique photo opportunity, if ever there was one.