Christmas in Edinburgh
Traditionally, St. Nick travelled from house to house at Christmas time, dropping sacks of gold down the chimney for its occupants, which would land in stockings hanging up by the fire to dry. That tradition continues today, only we don’t receive gold anymore – we are gifted oranges in our purposefully-bought Christmas stockings instead! These tasty festive oranges now symbolise the gold once received.
Makes sense to us – Orange buses with Golden standards #OrangeIsTheNewGold
Christmas will soon be upon us, and we might be bias about our wonderful home city but, Edinburgh throws one hell of a Christmas celebration. Edinburgh is a magical place to visit at Christmas time from the Christmas Markets in Princes Street Gardens to the dazzling festive lights found right across the city, there’s truly something for everyone this Christmas.
These are our top picks of things to do in Edinburgh over the Christmas period:
A Christmas time visit to Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Christmas Markets. The main, and biggest, market is found in Princes Street Gardens. Getting bigger and bigger each year, the market is filled with little kiosks, shops, and places to grab something to eat and drink. Sometimes referred to as the “German Christmas Market”, you’ll likely find more traditional European Christmas stalls at the Princes Street Gardens market. Keep an eye out, and your nose, for festive potpourri – there’s something really satisfying about that Orange smell!
In the last few years, the Christmas Market has expanded onto George Street, where you’ll find even more things to do, including kiosks, attractions and rides so it’s well worth seeing what’s on offer there as well. The George Street market tends to sell more local produce and is often referred to by locals as the “Scottish Christmas Market”.
We suggest seeking out the many twinkling, dazzling and delightful light displays across the city to really get yourself in the Christmas spirit. Fancy seeing the lights from a new perspective? Jump on a Bright Bus Tour after the sun goes down to get a unique view of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lights. Just remember to wrap up warm!
Each evening in December, the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh illuminate the paths through their garden. Spend an evening wandering through a trail of lights, music and festive cheer – a great evening out for families.
Edinburgh city’s Christmas Light switch on has officially been announced for the 17th of November. This year, the aptly named ‘Light Night’ will take place on the Royal Mile and will include a Fireworks display… even Santa is due to make a “flying” visit! You’ll also find music performances and the lighting of the Christmas Tree on the Mound.
We reckon the best street lights can be found on George Street, where our tour starts at the weekend during the Christmas period. The Dome on George Street has become somewhat of a trendsetter when it comes to Christmas lights. Each year The Dome dons it’s Christmas lights, creating the most magical entrance, with giant wreaths wrapped round its Corinthian columns. It’s one of the most ‘grammed spots in Edinburgh each year. We’d love to see any photos you take of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lights from our buses, so don’t forget to tag us or use #BrightBusTours
Christmas Tree Galore
Time to spruce things up! Edinburgh is awash with jaw-droppingly stunning Christmas trees this time of year. As we’ve already mentioned, Light Night on the 17th of November includes the lighting of the city Christmas Tree at the Mound but if you miss this event, there’s loads of other impressive trees to see across the city.
Jenners on Princes Street is home to a 40ft+ Christmas Tree, that towers up an impressive 3 levels of the department store. It’s worth a trip into Jenners just to see the tree in all its glory.
You’ll also find spectacular trees at The Dome, the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden and Grassmarket Square.
Take a trip to Santa’s grotto
One for the little ones! You can usually find Santa in a few places across the city at Christmas time, from smaller events to big grottos. His main home in the city is at Santa’s Grotto on Castle Street, as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019 events. Visiting Santa here includes story-telling, a chat with Santa on his knee and a little gift from one of his elves.
You can also find Santa in Jenners department store on Princes Street or at the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre in Leith.
Last Minute Christmas Shopping
Running out of time to finish your Christmas shopping? No problem. Escape your Edinburgh hotel and hit up the shops! There’s plenty of places in Edinburgh to get those last-minute gifts. The best place to start is Princes Street, it’s home to flagship department stores and several high street stores.
But wait—there’s myrrh…
If you’re looking for something a bit swankier, you can visit Multrees Walk, where you’ll find designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Harvey Nichols.
Events, Shows and Performances
You’ll find a range of performances throughout Edinburgh at Christmas time, from lavish theatre productions to independent shows.
If you’re looking for something more traditionally Christmassy, look no further than An Edinburgh Christmas Carol at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. A Scottish adaptation, by Tony Cownie, of Charles Dicken’s novel.
Up for a laugh? Why not get yourself some tickets to The Comedy Show Christmas Special? Hosted at the Gilded Balloon Basement, you’ll be in for side-splitting comedy from comedians like Jay Lafferty, Mark Nelson, Christopher Macarthur Boyd and more.
For more events, shows and performances across Edinburgh this Christmas, take a look at Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019 What’s On guide.
Take a Bright Bus Tour
And finally, let’s not forget Bright Bus Tours isn’t just for