Life around the world

Monday, 16 April, 2012 - 09:36

Christmas in Edinburgh

by Sarah Greally

It feels like Christmas is always just around the corner. This means we must dash to the shops to find the perfect presents for our loved ones, dust off the decorations in the attic, and start preparing the all-important turkey. To many a Scrooge Christmas is viewed as one of the most stressful times of the year, but to most it is considered to be the most magical. However it cannot be denied that this annual festivity requires a huge amount of preparation. So I recommend that you do so in my hometown of Edinburgh. Although it is considered one of the best cities in the UK all year round, it truly comes alive during the Christmas period, transforming into a Winter Wonderland, with attractions, fairs and decorations celebrating our favourite holiday. It is truly a magical event for all those lucky enough to experience it.

The city sparkles as both tourists and locals take in Christmas shopping in the high street shops, festive lunch and dinner selections in restaurants and general fun for all the family. There must be few other cities in the world with the ability to bring together the wonder of Christmas with the thrill of shopping during such a busy time, and what’s more, in such a glorious setting. From the principal shopping street of Princes Street and its gardens to the Old Town and the famous castle on the Royal Mile, to the New Town on George Street, there is always something going on.

It is the general opinion that the best thing about the festival in Edinburgh is the Winter Wonderland. It is the heart of the city’s festivities with fairground attractions, rides, food stalls, and Britain’s largest outdoor ice rink, all in the public park. The skating rink is probably one of the most charming skating venues in the world, with the National Art Gallery of Scotland on one side, and the Mound housing the Christmas markets, leading up to the striking castle, on the other.

Probably the most instantly identifiable landmarks of the Christmas festival is The Big Edinburgh Wheel, a large Ferris wheel, situated next to the Walter Scott monument, another one of the city’s landmarks. The wheel is almost as tall as the monument itself and can be seen from all over the city. It also provides a unique view of the capital from the top of the wheel. In fact, a few years ago, one couple found it to be so magical, they actually got engaged on the big wheel!

Another important feature of the Edinburgh Christmas Festival is the tradition German market, which is found next to the National Art Gallery of Scotland. The market consists of many small huts covered in bright seasonal decorations, making it not just a thrilling shopping experience but also a really beautiful sight to see. There is a large variety of treats on offer to buy, both traditional and unusual, including, jewellery, toys, crafts and gifts, so you are certain to find unique presents for your family and friends here, as well as Christmas decorations for your own home. Then, there is also the traditional seasonal food and drinks on offer, such as mulled wine, meats, cheese, puddings, cakes, sweets, and traditional sweet Christmas bread. All the food is served in brightly coloured, glittering paper, making it a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth.

As well as these main attractions, there are events commemorating the time of year, including the Great Scottish Santa Run, in which people dressed as Santa Claus are called together in attempt to break the world record for the largest gathering of Santas. There are more traditional events as well, such as carol concerts throughout the city.

The festival kicks off with a bang around the end of November, with the annual switch-on off the Christmas street lights, transforming Scotland’s capital in a setting fit for a fairytale. At this point the traditional markets are opened for business as well. A month later, the festivities come to a close in equal style with the Hogmanay (New Year’s) celebrations, spreading across four days, including the giant outdoor street party, with many concerts taking place as well.

So if you want to celebrate Christmas in a traditional and yet unique way, visit the capital city of Scotland. It’s a fun day out for people of all ages and you will be guaranteed to have a Christmas you’ll never forget.


Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Would you like to? What is the most exciting place to spend Christmas?

English courses near you