Official Guide to Edinburgh

Top 10 reasons to visit Edinburgh this Christmas

03 December 2016

[Image: Edinburgh's Christmas]

Top ten reasons to visit Edinburgh this Christmas

Edinburgh does Christmas and Hogmanay like no other city, more than enough to keep both local and visitor alike busy all the way into January.

We've put together a list of some of the best festive fun that Edinburgh has to offer - whether you're looking to head out into the beauty of a crisp and clear winter's day, enjoy a Christmas night out, or relax in a cosy nook with friends.

1) Christmas markets

Edinburghs Christmas European Market

From the Grassmarket to Stockbridge, Summerhall, George Street and Leith, Edinburgh offers markets to suit every taste.

You'll find weekly farmers' markets, crafts and fashion markets, vintage clothing markets, Scottish markets - and of course the unmissable Edinburgh Christmas Markets in Princes Street Gardens and George Street.

Read our list of some Edinburgh's best markets this Christmas >

2) Cosy pubs

Queens Arms Cr Website

[Image credit: The Queens Arms Facebook]

We know that sometimes the weather doesn't play ball, and you need somewhere warm where you can enjoy a drink or a dram, cosy by a roaring fire while the wind blows and the snow falls outside. 

If you're looking for a warm welcome and a place to while away the evening with friends, Edinburgh offers some of the best cosy pubs you'll find anywhere. So cosy up this Christmas with a dram (or two) and some traditional Scottish hospitality in your choice from our list of Edinburgh's top cosy pubs to curl up in this winter > 

3) Christmas on stage

Alice In Wonderland

Edinburgh's theatres are busy all year round, but that is especially true at Christmastime - shows like Five Guys Named Moe, the new stage version of Black Beauty, Mamma Mia! and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as well as traditional Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, all running throughout December, mean there's something for everyone.

You can find full details, along with a range of other events happening this December, on our Guide to What's on in Edinburgh >

4) Edinburgh's annual Santa Run

Santa Run

Every year a small army of Father Christmases take to the streets of Edinburgh jogging, running and walking a 2.5km route around the city, all in aid of charity. It's a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate Christmas being just around the corner for all ages!

If you fancy taking part on December 11, then get out your red suit, don your beard and make sure you register early before spaces fill up!

5) MagicFest Christmas Special

Magicfest Christmas Collage

Edinburgh's growing magic scene is a hothouse for emerging and experienced magicians and illusionists alike, and attracts talent from throughout the UK and beyond. 

2016 sees the first MagicFest Christmas Special landing in Edinburgh at George Square Theatre at the end of December, bringing with it magicians from across the globe and a show to amaze all ages.

6) Shop like a local


Stuck for a souvenir or Christmas gift for a special someone? Or just want to browse some of Edinburgh's vibrant independent shopping scene? You won't be at a loss with shops, boutiques and establishments selling wares from around the corner and round the world.

Cheesemongers, candlemakers, bookshops, milliners, sweetshops and grooming boutiques offer locally crafted one-offs and gifts, with customer service that is second to none.

Find a list of just some of our favourite independent hidden gems here >

7) Street of Light

Street Of Lights 2016 600 X250

The sensational Street of Light has returned to Edinburgh this year, with a new location on West George Street.

This 60,000 bulb strong display hosts nightly perfomances until Christmas Eve, accompanied with music from local choirs and bands including the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, Blazin' Fiddles, and Scotland's very own bhangra group Tigerstyle.

You can find more detail about the Street of Light as part of Edinburgh's Christmas here >

8) Winter walks

Snowy Arthurs Seat

There's little better than bundling up and setting out to explore on a cold, clear, and crisp winter's day. It's one of the best and most rewarding ways of getting to know Scotland's capital, especially during the Christmas season.

Wander along stretches of the Water of Leith that winds its way from Balerno to Leith, or ascend Arthur's Seat for breathtaking views across the city, and take a little whisky to toast the city when you reach the top.

To get you started, we've got a list of suggestions for the perfect Winter walk - in or out of the city. Take a look >

9) Festive fun whatever the weather

Rainy Edinburgh

No list of what to do in Edinburgh at Christmas would be complete without acknowledging that sometimes you need something to do on the days when it's just not nice to be outside.

Thankfully, Edinburgh also has a lot to offer if you're looking for the perfect rainy day activity - some of which you'll want to look into regardless of the weather.

For a few ideas, including the city's museums, escape-room challenges and eerie catacombs, check out our list of what to do to make the perfect rainy day in Edinburgh >

10) Hogmanay 

Hogmanay Fireworks Cr Lloyd Smith

Edinburgh's Hogmanay barely needs introduction, being famous the world over as one of the best ways to ring in the New Year. No visit to Edinburgh during the festive season is complete without taking in the city's atmosphere on New Year's Eve.

Whether you're looking to be part of the Street Party on Princes Street, want to find the perfect ceilidh to dance into 2017, or fancy something to entertain the whole family, Edinburgh's Hogmanay offers three days of uniquely Scottish excitement and fun in one of the best places in the world to celebrate the new year.