The temperatures have dropped and there is the faintest scent of pine in the air; Edinburgh is transforming into the capital of Christmas. It’s a great time to explore the snowy streets with a group of friends or on a romantic date, and as a family-friendly city there’s no shortage of activities for the kids. So put on your wooly hat and knitted scarf as we take you through our guide of things to do in Edinburgh this Christmas.
Christmas in Edinburgh doesn’t really get started until the official light switch-on is completed. From 3 o’clock on November 18th, George Street is set to host a fantastic line-up of free entertainment presented by Forth One’s Arlene Stuart. Enjoy a whole host of performances by local schools and community groups plus music from The Voice contestant, Saskia Eng, who also has the honour of switching on this year’s festive display. This is a busy event so be prepared for crowds and wrap up warm!
The lights are now on and it is certainly worth going on a walk down George Street to see them. You can also enjoy the eclectic mix of bars and restaurants in the New Town on your adventure.
© Tim Edgeler
Get lost in over a million twinkling lights at the Royal Botanic Gardens this Christmas. Embodying the magic of the festive season, the one-mile trail weaves through the Gardens’ naturalistic landscape. Make sure you check out the brand new Cathedral of Light, an immersive installation created from more than 100,000 pea-lights. Remember to look out for Santa and his elves plus many more hidden surprises as you explore the gardens.
© Royal Botanic Gardens
A trip to Edinburgh this winter simply wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Christmas markets in Princes Street Gardens. With over 100 individual stalls selling everything from traditional crafts to delicious street food, the markets are a great place to pick up some truly unique gifts. Soak up the festive atmosphere with a piping hot cup of mulled wine or if you fancy getting a bird’s eye perspective, hop on the ferris wheel and take in the sights from above. The markets are certainly worth a wander around to get you into the festive spirit.
© Lloyd Smith
If you missed Doors Open weekend in September, now is your second chance! The 24 Days of Advent invites visitors to explore some of Edinburgh’s most fascinating buildings every day throughout December. From historic monuments to period properties, each day will reveal an exciting new venue. Many of these buildings are not usually open to the public so this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the city’s architecture and uncover some hidden gems. Fall in love with the beautiful Scottish capital like never before.
© Edinburgh’s Christmas
Think December is too cold for an outdoor cinema? Think again. Edinburgh’s pop-up event extraordinaire, Rogue Village, returns this Christmas with a twist on the usual open-air screening. Bringing the outside in, Hobo Cinema invites filmgoers to enter a winter wonderland full of festive foliage and twinkling lights. Enjoy rich hot chocolates, gourmet popcorn and a whole host of Christmas classics including Elf, Love Actually and many more. This is a real festive treat that is sure to get even the most ‘bah humbug’ among us outside!
© Rogue Village
Take a break from the Christmas shopping and enjoy an afternoon tea at The Dome on George Street. Perhaps one of the most iconic parts of Christmas in Edinburgh, there’s nowhere that feels more extravagant. Decorated to the nines with glittering wreaths, twinkling garlands and an awe-inspiringly lavish tree – this is a must-see on any festive bucket list. Time slots for afternoon tea in the Georgian Room tend to sell out quickly at this time of year so be sure to book in advance.
Looking for a festive family activity this Christmas? Get your skates on and glide around the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square. Set in the heart of the Christmas markets, take a spin around this circular ice rink along to some classic seasonal tunes or simply watch as the skaters go round with a spiced apple toddy from one of the surrounding stalls. It also makes for a great date activity!
© Eoin Carey
Looking to explore Edinburgh this Christmas? With a central location that is only a few minutes walk from many of these events, our Royal Garden Apartments are perfect base for a festive trip. Each of our apartments includes daily housekeeping, a fully fitted kitchen, and free high-speed WiFi. Stay with us today!