Is it just me, or does Britain get more into Christmas every year? When I first moved to London, there were a few stray markets and some lights. 10 years on, the whole country has embraced the season in spectacular style. And this year I’ve seen it most clearly in Edinburgh. After a day of exploring the highlights, today I bring you A Lady in London’s 5 things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas.
Things to Do in Edinburgh at Christmas
I’ve traveled to the Scottish capital for a day to soak up the Christmas spirit. I’m excited to see how the city’s Christmas offerings compare with Hogmanay, Edinburgh’s legendary, multi-day New Year’s Eve celebrations. Given that more markets and spectacles are opening every day, I anticipate they’ll rise to the occasion. And they do.
1. Edinburgh Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens
I start and end my day at the Christmas markets in Edinburgh. They’re the main event, and for good reason.
Santa Land and the adjacent Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens are enormous, and every inch of ground around the Scott Monument is packed with gift-laden chalets, fun fair rides, and vendors of comfort food.
As I walk through the market, my senses go on overload with the sight of colorful candles, the scent of sizzling bratwurst, and the sound of Christmas music.
A giant tree maze lights up the area in front of the Scottish National Gallery and a miniature train trundles around the gardens.
Up the steps, rows of chalets display gifts from around the world. I pass by hand-drawn vintage maps wrapped in marbled paper, rustic wooden toys, and sweet tartan reindeer waiting to be placed under a tree.
2. Edinburgh Christmas Market on George Street
Just down the road I visit the other main Christmas market in Edinburgh. Taking up the west end of George Street, this one is also full of chalets and rides. From a tall tower hosting free-falling riders to an ice adventure and a Santa’s grotto, there’s no shortage of fun to be had here.
And given my kind of fun involves food, I stick to the market stalls selling colorful cheese wheels, sugary crepes, and festive drinks.
3. Ice Skating in Edinburgh
But it’s not all markets. There are a lot of other things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas, including ice skating. St Andrew Square has been transformed into a circular ice skating rink surrounding the Melville Monument. Skaters whirl around while I and my fellow onlookers enjoy the festive bar and food trucks.
4. Christmas Shopping in Edinburgh
When Scotland’s cold starts to sink in, I take a break in the shops. Jenners was once the oldest independent department store in Scotland, and its interior still retains a classic feel. I seek out the big Christmas section with everything from ornaments to Scottish gifts, soaking up the atmosphere and getting ideas for presents.
5. Christmas Decorations in Edinburgh
Back outside, I spend the rest of the day taking in Edinburgh’s Christmas decorations. Everywhere from shops to restaurants is decked with lights, trees, baubles, and bunting.
Even West Parliament Square on the Royal Mile has gone all-out with its Winter Windows display, which features art designed by young people from Edinburgh schools. Just walking down the street puts me in a festive mood.
By the time my day in Edinburgh is over, I’m fully in the seasonal spirit and completely convinced that Christmas in Edinburgh is getting as big as Hogmanay. Which is fitting given that Christmas seems to be asserting its presence everywhere across the country these days. I’m heading off to explore another city with a growing reputation for Christmas cheer next week, so stay tuned for more…
How about you? What are your favorite things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas?