17 Sep 19 / Edinburgh
10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh During the Christmas Holidays
Edinburgh is a fantastic place to enjoy the festive season. There's something for all ages from meeting Santa to processions, shows, lights and fireworks.
Light Night is on Sunday 17 November 2019 and it's when the Christmas lights are switched on. There are singers and performers to entertain the huge crowds who come to embrace the start of the season. It's a real family event followed by an impressive fireworks display. It's also the formal opening of Edinburgh’s Christmas which brings together lots of ways to embrace the festivities from 15 November 2019 to 5 January 2020.
Details were still being finalised at the time of writing but it would be great if the 24 Doors of Advent returns as it was well-loved last year. The Ice Rink is not happening this year but there are fun rides including the big wheel.
CHRISTMAS TREE MAZE
As part of Santa Land, the Christmas Tree Maze in East Princes Street Gardens is always popular. The trees are covered in strings of lights which makes it quite magical in the evening.
Great for gift shopping, Edinburgh has fantastic Christmas markets. The European Market is in Princes Street Gardens so you can enjoy a bratwurst or warm mulled wine while perusing the stalls.
The Scottish Market should be back in St Andrew Square Garden and the Stockbridge Market on Sundays is great for local produce, crafts and gifts. Foodies will appreciate the Edinburgh Farmers Market on Saturday mornings at Castle Terrace.
As well as the family-friendly rides in Santa Land in East Princes Street Gardens, you can meet the big man himself. While his elves continue the Christmas preparations at the North Pole, Father Christmas opens a Grotto here in Edinburgh to meet children and hear their wishlist.
The Foodies Festival Christmas returns to Edinburgh's EICC from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 November 2019. You can watch expert chefs produce meals you can recreate at home, and be amazed by the Cakes and Desserts Theatre. There's plenty of eating and drinking too with street food and restaurant tents, plus a Vintage Cider Tent and a Vintage Tea Tent. Children are welcome at the Kids' Cookery School and there's a live music stage for entertainment throughout each day.
CHRISTMAS AT THE BOTANICS
As night falls, head to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for their festive illuminated trail from 22 to 29 November 2019. Christmas at the Botanics is back for a third year with some new installations. Everyone will want to dance in the lines of light in the Laser Garden and see the waterside reflections of hundreds of glowing boats at the Festive Flotilla.
The Tunnel of Light is back along with the Scented Fire Garden. And the Festive Finale is where you can see brightly coloured projections dance in time to much loved Christmas classics.
EDINBURGH SANTA RUN
This annual race is fun to watch and it raises a lot of money for the When You Wish Upon A Star charity. At the time of writing the date wasn't confirmed but it is expected to be on Sunday 8 December 2019.
There's a registration fee to join in and claim your free Santa suit and medal, and everyone needs to raise sponsorship money to support the charity. Spectators are welcome to cheer on the runners in West Princes Street Gardens as they dash (or walk) around the 2.5km course from 1 pm. This is one for all the family as there are special prizes awarded for the best-dressed pushchairs and best-dressed dogs.
MAGICFEST CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
Back for a tenth year, MagicFest Christmas Festival is on in late December 2019.
It is an annual arts festival that celebrates magic with mind-bending fun for the whole family.
Europe's biggest festival of innovative and cutting-edge magic attracts over 10,000 people at 80 different events across the city from free installations to the world-class Gala show at the Festival Theatre. As well as bringing magic from around the world, the Festival also produces new work which celebrates Edinburgh's unique historic environment and impressive cultural heritage.
King's Theatre pantomime is Goldilocks and the Three Bears on from Saturday 30 November 2019 to Sunday 19 January 2020. Packed full of hilarious comedy routines and special effects, the show blends the worlds of circus and pantomime featuring magic, music, mayhem and plenty of porridge. And the Festival Square Spiegeltent will be back with a range of fun shows.
Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas - The Musical! Is on at the Festival Theatre from Tuesday 26 November to Sunday 1 December 2019. Aimed at the kids but loved by grown-ups too, you will soon be singing along to "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas” as the Grinch discovers there's more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming and hilarious musical.
Also at the Festival Theatre, Scottish Ballet The Snow Queen is on from Saturday 7 December to Sunday 29 December 2019. Scottish Ballet's 50th year will come to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – this glittering new production will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Hogmanay is the Scottish word for New Year's Eve and they certainly know how to enjoy this celebration in Edinburgh. The fun starts on 30 December 2019 with a Torchlight Procession in the evening when thousands of marchers carry firelit torches through the city's streets. You can buy tickets to join in the procession or you can watch the finale in Holyrood Park.
Then on 31 December 2019 you can see Grammy and Oscar Award winner Mark Ronson perform an 'all hits' show in Princes Street Gardens. Tickets will sell quickly for Mark Ronson's Hogmanay so make sure you book early. Tickets for the concert also get you access to the Street Party. And everyone gets to see the most incredible firework display at midnight over Edinburgh Castle while they join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.
If you need a hangover cure in the morning, the Loony Dook tradition means jumping into the freezing waters of the River Forth. If that doesn't appeal, you can go along to South Queensferry to support those braving the chill to raise money for charity.
WHERE TO STAY
Now you know how exciting Edinburgh is over the festive season you'll definitely want to book a trip. Fraser Suites Edinburgh is just off the Royal Mile close to Edinburgh Castle. The serviced apartments give you get the added benefit of kitchen facilities and you can also dine at the Stocks & Kirks Bar. Hotel du Vin Edinburgh is a gorgeous 4 star hotel near the National Museum of Scotland. The building dates back to 1743 which means the heritage building is full of character. Malmaison Edinburgh is on the waterfront in Leith surrounded by independent shops, stylish bars and cutting-edge restaurants. And you can be one of the first guests to stay at Malmaison City Centre due to open in December 2019. Located in the New Town, it is close to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Written by Laura Porter – Travel writer for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin