The festive season is a magical time. Comforting childhood memories of twinkling city centre lights, carol singers and sipping hot chocolate mingle with familiar festive music and echoes of the butterflies once felt before meeting Santa in the local department store.
Today, the hot chocolate might have been supplanted by a mug of warming mulled wine and Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody might now induce a nervous tick, but there’s no denying that Christmas still holds us all in its thrall.
Edinburgh’s Winter Festival, combining Christmas and Hogmanay, transforms the city centre into a fairytale winter wonderland from late November to early January. Capable of bringing out the inner child in us all, there’s no better place to savour the seasonal thrill of the lights, tantalising smells and enchanting sounds, mouth-watering flavours and bagfuls of fun.
Here’s why Scotland’s capital should remain top of your Christmas list:
Online shopping might be easy and convenient, but when it comes to Christmas shopping, most of us still like to soak up some Festive atmosphere. Edinburgh’s fantastic retail offer is squeezed into a compact area. From the West End’s independent quality boutiques to George Street’s fashionable chains and Jenners department store, up to Harvey Nichols and the luxury retail offer at Multrees Walk, Edinburgh has it all within easy walking distance.
Festive street markets
At the heart of Princes Street lies Edinburgh’s multi-tiered European Christmas market. Savour a unique shopping experience full of handmade craft goods from all over Europe, including hand painted ceramics, glassware, toys and Christmas decorations. As well as the ideal place to find that perfect gift, there’s all manner of gastronomic delights to be savoured. Alternatively, sample the delights of the Scottish Market on George Street – a winter showcase of the best craft, food and drink that Scotland has to offer.
For those seeking an escape from the crowds, what better destination than the 60m-high Star Flyer, providing stunning 360° views of Edinburgh from a truly unique perspective as your feet dangle above Princes Street. If that’s likely to put you in a spin, but you still appreciate an unforgettable view, slow the pace down with a more sedate ride in one of 36 weather-proof pods on the Big Wheel.
Street of Light
The unforgettable Street of Light returns in 2016, this time in a new location, on George Street. Running until 24 December, The Street of Light delivers a dazzling display of more than 60,000 dazzling bulbs, all synchronised to music by Edinburgh Festival Chorus with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra with their Junior Chorus, Blazin’ Fiddles and Tigerstyle. You’ll need to book soon though!
Edinburgh offers something special for people of ages. Santa Land, located in East Princes Street Gardens, is the perfect way to keep young children entertained, offering Santa’s Grotto, a childrens’ rollercoaster, carousel, helter skelter, an illuminated Christmas tree maze and all manner of rides. Or why not strap on ice skates and take a turn around the St Andrew Square rink. Wrap up warm and enjoy those happy young faces.
Why not sign up for this year’s annual Santa Fun Run and Walk on 11 December? Bouncing bellies, beards and jingle bells galore as Santas of all shapes and sizes, together with little elves, giggle their way around the short 2.5km city centre course. All proceeds are donated to When You Wish Upon A Star, a charity specialising in making dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses. What better gift to give this Christmas?
Scotland’s world-famous New Year festival offers three days of spectacular events and incredible live music. Attracting audiences from around the world, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay should be on everyone’s bucket list. On ‘The Night Afore’ concert in Princes Street Gardens, festival headliner Paulo Nutini takes to the stage. On Hogmanay itself, The Street Party delivers four live music stages, with this year’s Waverley Stage headlined by 90s indie legends, The Charlatans.
An inspiring city throughout the year, enchanting Edinburgh will be sure to cast a festive spell on all who visit.