Edinburgh is *always* a good idea and even more so during the festive season. Edinburgh at Christmas time is truly magical. The whole town comes to life, the streets are decked in lights, the Christmas market is in full swing and there is a truly wonderful atmosphere in the town. There are free events including the Night Light switch-on, nativity Carol Concert and more. Edinburgh’s Christmas kicks off mid-November so there’s plenty of time to get into the spirit of things! Read on for some of our favourite things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas.
Have a mulled wine at the Christmas Market
There aren’t one but TWO Christmas markets in Edinburgh! There’s the German Christmas market and the Scottish Christmas market that are set up in East Princes Street Gardens. You’ll find all kinds of crafts, gifts, food and drink. Stop off for a warming mulled wine or a hot chocolate. The markets are open daily from 10am – 10pm but note that they’re closed on Christmas day.
Have a hot chocolate or a wee drinkie at the Dome
Nothing says Christmas quite like the Dome in Edinburgh! A hot chocolate, a glass of bubbles🥂… the Dome is the place to go to and is most definitely something of an institution in Edinburgh. You will be blown away by the lights and Christmas decorations. It’s our go-to place to mark the beginning of the festive period in Edinburgh.
Go to a Panto!
Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to the Panto! The Pantomime is a quintessentially British stage-show that everyone should experience once in their life – whether you have kids or not! There are goodies and there are villains and before you know it, you’ll find yourself booing the baddies and shouting ‘he’s behind you!’. We have been known to go several times before our children were even a twinkle in our eye. It’s great fun – laughter and good times guaranteed. We recommend the Panto that takes place every year at the Kings Theatre.
Get your skates on and enjoy a trip down memory lane. There’s a fantastic elliptical icerink that’s set up at St Andrews Square. If you’re tired from the exertion of skating, you can finish off the event with a stop off at the Cider Lodge just next to the rink. The price of skate hire is included in the entry fee and you’ll be allocated a specific time slot.
Go on the rides at the Christmas market
Find your inner child and take a ride on the thrilling star flyer, helter skelter, the big wheel or a carousel. You can buy tickets online or directly that the booths.
Check out the Christmas tree at Jenners
Jenners is something of an institution and every year they erect a giant Christmas tree in their store on Princes Street. Pop in to check it out!
Go on the big wheel at the Christmas market
For a fantastic panoramic view of Edinburgh, jump on the big wheel.
Go to see Santa and his reindeers in Princes Street Gardens
If you’ve got little ones, be sure to visit Santa and his reindeers! It’ll be a truly memorable experience for them.
Take part in the Santa Run
This is definitely on our bucket list! How fun does this look? Every year in December, hundreds of keen adults, kids and even dogs take part in the Santa Fun Run and Walk in Princes Street Gardens. This 2.5 km run is open to everyone and the money raised from the event helps the charity ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ to grant very special wishes for children who are living with a life threatening illness. There is an entry fee and adults are asked to commit to raising £25 for the charity.
Check out the Winter Light Trail Evenings at the Botanics
The Botanical Gardens have launched a magical event during the festive period – the Winter Light Trail. You’ll be mesmerised by the decorations, lights and magical atmosphere. Highlights include the Cathedral of Light, the Scented Fire Garden and visiting Santa and his Elves
Booking ahead is essential – check out their website for details.
Go Christmas shopping
This might seem obvious but why not take the time to get ahead with some of your Christmas shopping. You can head to the main shopping area (Princes Street and George Street) or alternatively find some quirky, unique gifts at the Christmas market.
A sneak peek at the Light Night switch-on in 2017 (source Youtube: Daniela Frenda)
If you’re visiting Edinburgh in November fear not as the Christmas market actually kicks off mid-November so you’ll get a chance to enjoy the start of the festive celebrations before it gets too busy. And if you time your visit, you’ll get to enjoy ‘Light Night’ – the night when they switch on the Christmas lights. Can it get any more magical? The event includes the light switch-on (obviously), choirs singing and spectacular fireworks. It gets busy so leave plenty of time to get there and travel by public transport.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of 13 best things to do to celebrate Christmas in Edinburgh. We’re very excited about spending Christmas in the capital this year and have many of the above activities planned for the festive season.