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What’s on this Winter?

As winter blankets Edinburgh in a cosy embrace, the city transforms into a wonderland of festive cheer and enchanting experiences. From family-friendly adventures to cultural festivals, there’s something for everyone to enjoy amidst the crisp winter air. Let’s embark on a journey through Edinburgh’s winter wonderland with a closer look at the top attractions and events across various categories.

Family-Friendly Things to Do: Winter in Edinburgh offers a host of family-friendly activities to create cherished memories. Glide across the ice at the Edinburgh Christmas Ice Rink in St Andrew Square, where laughter fills the air and twinkling lights set the scene for a magical experience. Take a ride on the Christmas Wheel for panoramic views of the city adorned in sparkling decorations. For a touch of nostalgia, explore the Christmas markets along Princes Street Gardens, where little ones can marvel at festive displays and indulge in sweet treats. Learn more

Events and Festivals: Edinburgh comes alive with festive spirit during the winter months, hosting a plethora of events and festivals to celebrate the season. The Edinburgh Christmas Market, one of the most anticipated events of the year, transforms the city into a winter wonderland with its charming stalls, fairground rides, and live entertainment. Don’t miss the annual Edinburgh’s Christmas festivities, featuring enchanting light displays, theatrical performances, and Santa’s Grotto, where children can share their wishes with the jolly man himself. Learn more

Best Sights and Landmarks: Winter casts a magical spell over Edinburgh’s iconic sights and landmarks, transforming them into enchanting winter wonderlands. Marvel at the majestic Edinburgh Castle, illuminated against the night sky, and stroll along the Royal Mile, adorned with festive decorations and bustling with holiday shoppers. For panoramic views of the city blanketed in snow, climb Arthur’s Seat or venture to Calton Hill, where you can capture breath-taking photographs of Edinburgh’s winter beauty. Learn more

In conclusion, Edinburgh’s winter wonderland offers a magical escape filled with festive cheer, enchanting experiences, and seasonal delights. Whether you’re exploring the Christmas markets, enjoying family-friendly activities, or admiring the city’s iconic landmarks adorned in twinkling lights, Edinburgh promises an unforgettable winter getaway for all to enjoy.


Key Events:

19 November to 2 January – Christmas Market

Every year we see both locals and tourists visit our stunning city and get into the festive season by visiting our incredible festive market. Every year Edinburgh turns into a winter wonderland, whether there is snow or not, with German-style markets filling Princes Street Gardens and attractions set up through George Street.

What to expect?

  • 62 trading stalls
  • Four attractions will pop up in East Princes Street Gardens
  • The Big Wheel
  • A star flyer
  • 15 stall concessions
  • 11 attractions including the Christmas Tree Maze and a Santa’s Grotto
  • Underbelly is also seeking permission to reinstate an ice rink between Charlotte Square and Castle Street

There are also reports that a ‘family area’ will be near the bandstand if permission is granted.

Underbelly is meticulously planning Edinburgh’s Christmas with Covid-19 in mind and is dedicated to creating a safe and fun environment for the 2021 Christmas celebrations.

You can follow all the latest updates on Edinburgh Christmas’ official Instagram here.

31 December – Hogmanay Party at the Bells

We welcome merrymakers to one of the greatest events on the planet. You have two choices:

Princes Street Gardens Access

Celebrate Hogmanay in spectacular style with a Garden Access ticket, party the night away in front of the Ross Band, and be in the best location for the midnight fireworks. Set beneath the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, dance the night away at the Concert in the Gardens featuring incredible live music, entertainment, DJs, giant screens, and outdoor bars. Artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Click here to learn more.

Street Access

Prepare to be entertained with one of the world’s greatest street theatre companies, Close-Act Theatre who will animate the street as you party at the bells. At midnight, the unforgettable fireworks will once again be back at Edinburgh Castle. Click here to learn more.



Key Events:

1 January – The Loony Dook

And if you need something to clear your head the morning after, why not take part in the (literally) breathtaking Loony Dook, the annual splash in the River Forth at South Queensferry? Take part in the Dookers Parade through the High Street before taking the plunge in the freezing Forthwith the iconic Forth Bridges as a backdrop. And don’t forget your fancy dress! Or you could just sleep in.

Click here to learn more.

Please note these dates and events are usually held on an annual basis but due to the current circumstances we cannot guarantee that these events will be going ahead or on the dates stated. 


25 January – Burns Night

Burns Night is celebrated annually to commemorate commemorates the life of the bard, Robert Burns. Yearly people gather at dinners, parties, and events and enjoy a traditional meal of haggis, neeps, and tatties to celebrate the life and work of Burns. Burns is often considered the national poet of Scotland, with his writings including Auld Lang Syne and Address to a Haggis.

There are opportunities throughout the city to try the classic Scottish dish of Haggis, neeps, and tatties to include:

Burns Supper – The Royal Yacht Britannia

Available on either Friday 28 or Saturday 29 January, join The Royal Yacht Britannia for a traditional Burns Supper and celebrate Robert Burns’ life and work. Click here to learn more

Festivals and Special Events

Edinburgh Zoo’s Christmas Nights, Edinburgh Zoo, 19 Nov – 2 Jan

Castle of Light, Edinburgh Castle, 19 Nov – 9 Jan

Edinburgh’s Christmas, various venues, 20 Nov – 2 Jan

Christmas at The Botanics, RBGE, 25 Nov – 2 Jan

The spectacle of Light, Dalkeith Country Park, 4 Dec – 2 Jan

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, various venues, 29 Dec – 1 Jan

Burns and Beyond, various venues, 22 Jan – 5 Feb

Manipulate Festival, various venues, 28 Jan – 5 Feb

BANFF Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Festival Theatre, 30 Jan


Museums, Galleries, and Exhibitions

Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 26 Apr – 20 Feb

Alison Watt: A Portrait Without Likeness, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 17 Jul – 9 Jan

The Typewriter Revolution, National Museum of Scotland, 24 Jul – 17 Apr

Thomas Joshua Cooper: The World’s Edge, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 31 Jul – 23 Jan

Inspiring Walter Scott, National Museum of Scotland, 6 Aug – 9 Jan

MAKING NUNO: Japanese Textile Innovation… Dovecot Studios, 17 Sep – 8 Jan

Extinction Bell, National Museum of Scotland, 24 Sep – 9 Jan

Scotland’s Climate Challenge, National Museum of Scotland, 24 Sep – 27 Mar

Simon Yuill: Recovery Time is Labour Time, Collective, 25 Sep – 2 Jan

Jeda Pearl: Acts of Observation, Collective, 25 Sep – 2 Jan

Ana García Jácome: Histories of disability: archive and absence, Collective, 25 Sep – 2 Jan

Abi Palmer: Crip Casino, Collective, 25 Sep – 2 Jan Angelica Mesiti, Talbot Rice Gallery, 1 Oct – 19 Feb

Kurt Jackson: Mermaids’ Tears, Dovecot Studios, 2 Oct – 5 Feb

Reflections: The Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer, City Art Centre, 6 Nov – 20 Mar

Tapestry: Changing Concepts, City Art Centre, 13 Nov – 13 Mar

Ruined: Reinventing Scottish History, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Dec – 9 Jan

Joey Simons: The fearful part of it was the absence, Collective, 3 Dec – 13 Mar

Cauleen Smith: H-E-L-L-O, Collective, 22 Jan – 1 May

The Art of Wallpaper – Morris & Co. Dovecot Studios, 28 Jan – 11 Jun


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