Edinburgh may not be the first city that comes to mind when envisioning a traditional European Christmas, but the city celebrates Christmas in style. From classic Christmas markets to festive activities and amazing food and drink, these are a few reasons to visit Edinburgh, Scotland at Christmas.
European Christmas Markets
Edinburgh’s European Christmas Markets are situated between East Princes Street Gardens and The Mound, with over 100 stalls selling handmade gifts, hearty food, and traditional holiday drinks. Grab a warming glass of mulled wine and a German sausage and shop for traditional trinkets to artisan crafts, wool clothing and sweet treats. The Bothy – a festive pop-up bar made from shipping containers – offers some respite from the notoriously chilly Scottish weather.
Street of Light
A recent addition to Edinburgh’s Christmas events, the Street of Light features 26 arches and over 60,000 lights synchronised to musical recordings from local choirs and bands. The 20 minute shows run at 6pm and 8pm every night from the end of November until Christmas Eve, and free tickets can be booked in advance here.
Ice Skating in St Andrew Square
Get into the Christmas spirit and take a few laps around the circular ice skating rink in St Andrew Square. Tickets are only £5, and skates can be hired on-site. If skating isn’t your thing, grab a hot chocolate or hot toddy from the attached bar and watch as revellers glide about.
Dinner at The Dome
This chic bar and restaurant becomes an attraction in itself every Christmas thanks to its grand, ornate decorations. Outside, sparkling lights coil around its striking pillars, while inside garland, baubles, and twinkling lights create an incredibly enchanting atmosphere. Enjoy a cocktail in the main bar beneath their giant Christmas tree, or sample a three course meal from their festive menu. (Be sure to make reservations in advance!)
When the Christmas festivities end, an even bigger celebration begins: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. The city’s New Year’s Eve street party is one of the biggest in the world, with live music, DJs, traditional Scottish dancing, and an incredible display of fireworks. Celebrations kick off on December 30th with the Torchlight Procession – thousands of torchbearers parade through the city centre, led by the Up Helly Aa Shetland Vikings and six pipe bands. On New Year’s day, you can cure your hangover by participating in The Loony Dook, an event where people dress in costumes and jump into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth to raise money for charity.
Have you visited Edinburgh during the holidays?