Edinburgh truly sparkles during the festive season. From late November until early January each year, the city centre comes alive with bustling markets, thrilling rides and unforgettable shows. Read on to find out what to expect in Edinburgh at Christmastime.
Whether you're looking for gifts from near or afar, you're bound to find something unique in one of Edinburgh's many markets. The European Market pops up in East Princes Street Gardens, where you can find beautiful gifts and delicious food and drink from around the Continent. There's nothing so festive as walking around the stalls clutching a mug of hot mulled wine.
If you fancy something a little closer to home, nip over to St Andrew Square Garden where you'll normally find the Scottish Market. Stock up on local gifts from Edinburgh and beyond - previous stallholders have included Mimi's Bakehouse, Lidl and Valvona & Crolla.
Of course, there are some great markets all year round that are perfect for picking up that ideal Christmas gift. The Stockbridge Market is a local favourite which is open every Sunday 10am - 5pm and showcases the best in local produce, crafts and gifts. For even more foodie treats, head down to Castle Terrace every Saturday from 9am to 2pm for the Edinburgh Farmers Market, where the stallholders often grow or rear what they sell.
On a selected Sunday evening every late November the city comes together to celebrate the switch on of the Christmas lights. Dozens of local schools and community groups come together to perform before the lights are turned on by a very special guest, followed by a breathtaking fireworks display.
It's a must-do for anyone who wants to soak up Edinburgh's warm community atmosphere.
Christmas Shows in Edinburgh
Edinburgh locals love spending the festive season coming together to spend a night at the theatre, and so there's a whole range of fun shows to see at Christmastime. In previous years the Paradiso Spiegeltent has taken over St Andrew Square and has played host to some fantastic cabaret, comedy and circus acts, making it the perfect venue for a festive night out.
Another firm favourite for the city's residents is the annual panto at the King's Theatre, which runs from late November to mid January every year. Jack and the Beanstalk has been announced as the pantomime for the 2016-17 season, while previous productions have included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin and Peter Pan. It's an essential part of Christmas for families across Edinburgh and beyond.
All the fun of the fair
Having a go on Edinburgh's Christmas rides is the highlight of the festive season for many of Edinburgh's residents. Get your skates on and have a whirl around not one, but two ice rinks in the city centre: one in East Princes Street Gardens and the other in St Andrew Square. Don't fancy the chill? You can always spectate clutching a warm hot toddy from the comfort of the nearby cabin bar.
Take in breathtaking festive views of the city from the spectacular heights of the Big Wheel. A unmistakable landmark and a steadfast symbol of Christmas for everyone in Edinburgh, you can take in fantastic panoramas of the Old and New Town and admire the city in all its sparkling glory.
Or, if you're feeling really brave, take a trip on the thrilling Star Flyer. Thrill seekers will be rewarded with spectacular views of the city on this sensational ride but be warned - it is not for the faint of heart!
Edinburgh's Christmas for Kids
There is always plenty for kids to see and do during Christmastime in Edinburgh. You'll find plenty of family friendly rides in Santa Land in East Princes Street Gardens, including the Christmas Tree Maze and Santa Train.
Father Christmas takes time out of his busy schedule to visit the children of Edinburgh too, and you can find him every year in his grotto. Don't visit Santa Land without popping in to tell him your Christmas wish list! Read our interview with Santa >