Edinburgh truly sparkles during the festive season.
Each year from late November until early January, the city centre comes alive with 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!
Experience all the fun of the fair at Edinburgh’s Christmas.
Practise your moves on the ice at the popular ice rink on George Street. 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 in Edinburgh, it's a fantastic way to take in the panoramas of the Old and New Towns and admire the city in all its sparkling glory.
Nestled in the heart of the city, the traditional Christmas Market on Princes Street has a range of European and Scottish food & drinks, unique crafts, clothing and gifts for the home, and is a lovely place to browse for some special Christmas gifts.
Then why not wind your way through the Christmas Tree Maze and pay a visit to Santa's Grotto in West Princes Street Gardens before browsing through the stalls full of festive treats and gifts.
Be sure not to miss taking a picture of the majestic Christmas tree on the Mound, which each year is donated by Norway’s Hordaland County Council.
Festive Light Trails
Experience stunning visuals, larger-than-life illuminations, trees drenched in jewel-like colour and sparkling tunnels of at one of the many festive light trails that usually run throughout the city.
Christmas Fares & Markets
Nothing beats a wander through a Christmas Fare or Market to get you in the Christmassy mood!
As well as the traditional Christmas Market on Princes Street, you can stock up on unique gifts in a variety of locations, including Castle Street Christmas Market, Summerhall, The Assembly Rooms and Jupiter Artland.
Of course, there are some great markets all year round that are perfect for picking up that ideal Christmas gift. Stockbridge, Leith and Grassmarket are all local favourites, showcasing the best in local produce, crafts and gifts. While 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.
Have a Night at the Theatre
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For many of us, a trip to see a live show over the Christmas period is a must.
From the traditional side-splitting pantomime and the beauty of ballet, to the top-tapping delight of live music, there’s a packed line-up of shows to choose from in Edinburgh at Christmastime.
Sign up to newsletters from city theatres such as The King's Theatre, The Festival Theatre, Usher Hall, Edinburgh Playhouse, The Royal Lyceum and The Queen’s Hall to be one of the first to hear about this year’s performances.
(Image Credit: Roberto Ricciuti)
Nothing quite New Year - or Hogmanay as it’s known in Scotland - and Edinburgh does Hogmanay better than most with a 4 day festival to celebrate the changing of the year.
Generally regarded as the most important Scottish holiday, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival dates back to 1993 and has evolved to become one of the greatest outdoor celebrations of New Year’s Eve in the world.
In any normal year the big events include a Torchlight Procession on 30 December, the world-famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, concerts and fireworks on 31 December and the Loony Dook (a dook in the freezing water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, a few miles outside Edinburgh) on New Year’s Day.
Keep up to date with all of this year’s programme by signing up to Edinburgh's Hogmanay newsletter >
From dancing the night away at a traditional ceilidh, to first footing and redding the house, there are a number of customs associated with Hogmanay – discover how many of these you have done (or get in some practice before this year’s celebrations!) in our guide to Having a Traditional New Year in Edinburgh >