Expect a magical winter wonderland as Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay return to the city. Between 20 November 2021 and 2 January 2022, the city becomes a festive hub, complete with bustling Christmas market and a wide variety of family-friendly activities and events.
Whether it’s a traditional pantomime, an after-dark light trail with warming hot chocolate, or a trip to a Christmas market, there’s plenty going on to ensure the whole family have a merry little Christmas – read on to discover more!
Edinburgh’s Christmas is back and is set to bring festive cheer to the city centre.
2021 sees the return of the popular Ice Rink, in its new home on George Street and, in a first for Edinburgh’s Christmas, will also feature skate-up festive food & drink.
Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Big Wheel or the Star Flyer in East Princes Street Gardens, which will also be hosting the Christmas Market with a range of European and Scottish food, drinks and unique crafts – ideal for those Christmas gifts.
Tickets for Ice Skating, Santa’s Grotto, The Forth1 Big Wheel and Star Flyer are now available to purchase through the Edinburgh’s Christmas website. Those with an EH postcode receive 20% off the ticket price.
If you’re unable to visit the Christmas Market in person fear not, as The Neighbourhood Market will return to the Edinburgh’s Christmas website, offering a unique range of local Edinburgh businesses to showcase their products.
The creative project Winter Windows returns, with the theme “Connections and Kindness”. Designed by Edinburgh’s school children, stained-glass window designs will portray their reflections on connections made and kindness received during the pandemic.
Organised in conjunction with Edinburgh Churches Together, The Nativity Carol Concert will take place on 28 November in St Andrew Square. The Nativity Scene will be housed at St Andrew Square.
The Mound will once again be lit up with a beautiful contemporary art installation – local artist Hannah Ayre’s design of cascading geometric snowflakes will sit alongside Edinburgh’s Christmas tree donated by Norway’s Hordaland County Council. The Mound Installation will be illuminated from 20 November.
Light up the Dark Winter Nights
Discover the magic of Christmas on a magical night-time light trail through Edinburgh Zoo. Running from Friday 19 November until Sunday 2 January, Edinburgh Zoo’s Christmas Nights are sure to light up your winter with a spectacular light trail featuring projections, twinkling fairy lights and much more.
Prepare to be dazzled this festive season as Edinburgh Castle is illuminated in a state of the art magical light installation, Castle of Light. Expect stunning visuals and a spectacle of colour as Rex, the castle’s famous red lion, guides you through the hidden treasures of the castle. The event runs from 19 November 2021 - 09 January 2022.
Treat your loved ones to a magical, festival illuminated trail at Christmas at the Botanics. Running on selected evenings between Thursday 25 November and Sunday 2 January 2022, you'll be treated to larger-than-life illuminations, dancing waterside reflections, trees drenched in jewel-like colour and sparkling tunnels of light.
Enjoy toasted marshmallows around the fire pit, sip on hot chocolate or mulled wine while you stroll around a fairyland of twinkling lights at Five Sisters Zoo. Running every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from Wednesday 1st – Thursday 23rd December
A Night at the Theatre
With shows making a welcome return to theatres, this festive season there’s an array of exciting performances taking place at Edinburgh’s world-renowned theatres.
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a pantomime and this year The Brunton Theatre are hosting the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel, while The King’s Theatre bring the timeless Sleeping Beauty to the stage.
Enjoy a festive visual treat of Scottish Ballet's The Nutcracker at the Festival Theatre. Follow Clara on an imaginative journey as she meets the dashing Nutcracker Prince, takes on the larger-than-life Rat King, and is whisked into the luscious land of sweets by the Sugar Plum Fairy!
Indulge in the magic of Christmas as the Usher Hall hosts a variety of feel-good shows – from Dickens classic with a twist, The Muppet Christmas Carol - Film with Live Orchestra to festive classics with one of the original and best classical cross-over groups, Christmas with Il Divo.
Home to some of the world's biggest musicals, this Christmas Edinburgh Playhouse brings the much-loved White Christmas to the city. An enduring romantic comedy, it’ll warm up the coldest of cold winter nights.
Christmas Fares & Markets
(Image Credit: Jess Shurte)
Nothing beats a wander through a Christmas Fare or Market to get you in the Christmassy mood, and this year there’s a variety taking place across Edinburgh & the Lothians to choose from:
Summerhall will once again be hosting online Christmas Market, but in addition there will also be a physical market, held at Summerhall on Sunday 5 December.
Set against the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, Castle Street Christmas Market has a stunning backdrop. This popular market opens daily from 3 – 23 December and will be filled with an abundance of quality gifts and delicious food for unique Christmas gifts.
Expect an exceptional selection of textiles, clothing, homewares, art, jewellery and woodwork at The Assembly Room’s Christmas Art, Craft and Design Fair, which this year is hosting 120 of the country’s finest artists and designers, all selling their own hand-crafted work. This special event will take place 4 -5 December under the magnificent shining chandeliers of the Assembly Rooms.
(Image Credit: Harvey Pearson)
Home-made mulled wine, free floral decoration demonstrations, seasonal music, delicious food, not to mention the chance to meet Jupiter’s Festive Donkeys are all waiting for you at Jupiter Artland’s Christmas Fair, which this year is taking place 11- 12 December.
Further afield, in the gardens of Teasses Estate in the picturesque East Neuk of Fife, Teasses Christmas Market will take place on 4 December and will feature food and drinks stalls in the Stables Courtyard and a craft market in the beautifully wintery Walled Garden, as well as music, storytelling and a special appearance by Santa.
(Image Credit: Roberto Ricciuti)
An action-packed programme of events is set to take place in Edinburgh this New Year, as the city welcomes the start of 2022. The four day festival (Wednesday 29 December to Saturday 1 January) will see Edinburgh's famous Hogmanay festival revived, albeit on a smaller scale than pre-pandemic years.
Festival-goers have a variety of contemporary and traditional New Year events to choose from, including:
The Scottish Music Programme runs for 3 days (Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 December) within the historic Greyfriars Kirk and will feature music from singer-songwriters Dougie MacLean, Eddi Reader and contemporary folk act, Breabach.
The Torchlight Procession. Igniting Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, this popular event returns to the city centre on Thursday 30 December. Spread out between 4pm and 9pm to allow for a safer environment, participants will collect their torches from three locations around the city (Waverley Bridge, West Parliament Square or Bristo Square) and then start the Procession on the Royal Mile between North Bridge and St Mary’s Street, before finishing at Holyrood Park.
A fresh take on the world-famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, Party at the Bells will take place on Friday 31 December with a reduced audience of 30,000 to enjoy the countdown celebrations. Grammy-winning electronic music duo Basement Jaxx and Scottish DJ and presenter, Arielle Free will perform on the Ross Bandstand to 3,500 people with a Garden Access Ticket. The event will also be streamed onto a series of screens to the audience with a Street Access Ticket on Princes Street.
The iconic midnight Fireworks Display will once again be back at Edinburgh Castle.
Fusing the work of Scottish writers, artists & musicians, Message from the Skies will once again light up Edinburgh’s skyline on Saturday 1 January. Full details to be announced in due course.
Full details and tickets for the Torchlight Procession, Party at the Bells, and the Scottish Music Programme are on sale now on Edinburgh's Hogmanay's website >
And that’s just for starters! Keep an eye on our What’s On section to discover more events that are coming to Edinburgh this festive season.