Christmas Time in Edinburgh

Each year, as Christmas approaches, Edinburgh transforms into a winter wonderland, captivating visitors with its world-renowned Christmas markets nestled right in the heart of the city. Princes Street Gardens, George Street, and St. Andrew’s Square come alive with festive cheer, offering a bustling array of rides, attractions, and stalls, alongside countless other delights waiting to be discovered. It’s no surprise that people from across the globe flock to the Scottish Capital to experience the magic of Christmas firsthand. Yet amidst the whirlwind of activity, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and miss out on the countless treasures that await you.

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Nature enthusiasts will delight in the nearby parks and gardens, perfect for scenic jogs and leisurely strolls, while pet lovers can rejoice in our pet-friendly accommodations, with just a one-off charge of £50.

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Here is our list of the top 5 things you can do in Edinburgh, this Christmas.

 

Visit the Markets in Princes Street Gardens

The Gardens at Princess street are home to one of the most spectacular marketplaces. Originally known as the ‘German Market’, the site now holds stalls from all over Europe – and as you walk through it, your nostrils will be overrun with the beautiful smells of European spices and sweets in the air. It really is an experience like no other. Try some local Scottish festive cuisine, like venison burgers or mulled Irn Bru, or be a bit more adventurous and have some delicious German sausages or Spanish churros. Hot drinks are served all over the market, with most stalls offering an environmentally friendly “rent-a-cup” service, so you don’t need to feel bad about single-use plastics.

 

Go Ice skating on George Street

George Street is one of the main shopping and dining districts in the city centre. For a couple of months in the year, half of the street is closed off to traffic, so that a world-class alpine ice rink can be placed in the middle of it! The rink is incredibly accessible – accommodating those who can skate and those who can’t, with skating aids provided. Wheelchair users are also welcome on the rink. We think this is the perfect way to get into the festive spirit.

 

Take a Trip on the Star Flyer

Right next to the Scott Monument, and opposite our Old Waverley Hotel, the star flyer shoots thrill-seekers into the sky and spins them round and round! This ride is straight out of a theme park and is a city-wide favourite every year. If you can keep your eyes open, you’ll be offered one of the best views of the Christmas markets from the top. Just make sure not to eat too much before you go on, or you could accidentally decorate the streets of Edinburgh!

 

Immerse yourself in light, after sunset, at the Royal Botanical Gardens

Every year, Christmas at the Botanics offers a wonderful light-show experience like no other. Running until the 2nd of January, the Royal Botanic Garden’s 17,000 species of plants are being lit up every night, with immersive colour and patterns; in a spectacle, you won’t want to miss. This light show trail can be an amazing night out with the whole family but is also perfect for late-night dates. The lights are all truly mesmerising and if you look at #christmasatthebotanics on Instagram you will see thousands of reasons why!

 

Take a peek at the Iconic Christmas Tree on the Mound

On top of the Mound, in Edinburgh’s city centre, you will spot a gigantic, 60ft Norwegian ‘Christmas Tree’. This has been traditional since 1949, and is a received gift from Norway, in thanks for Scottish assistance during the war. It’s always decorated in fabulous lights and is a sight to behold! Grab a fantastic photo opportunity, and brag to your friends that you experienced Edinburgh at Christmas time!

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