Table of Contents Show
- Things to do at Christmas in Edinburgh
- How to spend New Year in Edinburgh
- Weather at Christmas in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of the most magical cities in the UK, and a great year round destination. Most people will visit in the Summer because of the Fringe Festival, but there’s plenty of reasons to visit in the Winter and at Christmas. The city comes to life, everywhere is covered in lights and the festive atmosphere is in full swing. From the lit up castle on the hill to lively Christmas markets and some of the best New Year parties in the world, the Scottish capital makes a great escape during the festive season.
Here’s how to make the most out of your Edinburgh Christmas trip, including the best Edinburgh Christmas markets.
Things to do at Christmas in Edinburgh
There’s so much to do in Edinburgh, especially at Christmas, so here are our top picks.
Visit Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens East, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ
The city will be filled with Christmas activities, and perhaps the most popular of these is the Edinburgh Christmas market. It’s a traditional German-style Christmas market that fills Princes Street Gardens. The location is truly picturesque with a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Balmoral Hotel and Calton Hill.
There’ll be stalls selling Christmas items and gifts, such as local whiskey and hand crafted Christmas ornaments.
There isn’t a lack of choice for food and drink here. You can use the ‘rent-a-cup’ service to save on plastic waste that can be refilled with mulled wine and hot cider. The festive mug looks great in Instagram photos and you get your deposit back when you return it. For food, you can choose from Scottish dishes, traditional German food, and sweet treats such as crepes and churros.
If you’re travelling with children, there will be rides for all age groups and a Santa. We would highly recommend the Star Flyer, a 60 metre tall ride that spins you high above the city.
Entry to the market is free, but you’ll have to pay for any rides or attractions you want to do. It’s open every day from 10am-10pm, but they’re closed on Christmas day.
If you can, try and get here on a weekend as it’s very popular. Evenings can also get really busy, so try and make it for the morning or midday if you can.
Hopetoun House Christmas Shopping Fair
Queensferry, South Queensferry EH30 9RW
A 6,500 acre estate sitting on the outskirts of Edniburgh, Hopetoun House is a working farm that transforms at Christmas into a magical shopping fair.
They put on festive entertainment and over 60 stalls selling handmade and unique gifts, making it worth the trip outside of the city center.
Go to a Winter Light Trail Evening at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, United Kingdom
Another light display is in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. This has been deemed as an unmissable event, where over a million lights will cover the Royal Botanic Gardens. Warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine as you wander through the magical grounds.
You’ll need a ticket for this, so book it in advance so you don’t miss out.
Have a festive meal at The Dome
14 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2PF
Nearly nowhere is more magical at Christmas in Edinburgh than The Dome, a legendary bar and restaurant. The Christmas lights will blow you away and it’s a great place to kick off the festive season. They offer a festive set menu and morning tea that will put you in the Christmas mood.
Visit their website to book your meal and check out their menus.
Want to sample some festive bakes? Check out our guide to the best bakeries in Edinburgh.
Visit the Nutcracker Christmas Shop
52 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TB
This shop is open every day of the year, but of course it’s the most popular at Christmas. It’s right in the centre of the Royal Mile, and is the perfect place to shop for some special decorations to commemorate your trip.
See the biggest Christmas tree in Edinburgh
47/48 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2YJ
The most famous shop in the city, Jenners, has been in place since 1838 at its location on Princes Street. During Winter, it’s home to Edinburgh’s biggest Christmas tree. While you’re there, it’s the perfect place to get some Christmas shopping done!
Watch a festive show
Panto at the Kings Theatre
2 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LQ
If you’re someone who thinks Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to the panto, the yearly one at the Kings Theatre is a great pick. In 2022, they will be showing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” from Sat 17 Dec 2022 to Sun 22 Jan 2023.
Go to the ballet
13-29 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9FT
Watching the ballet will really put you in the magical Christmas mood. This year, the Scottish Ballet will be putting on ‘The Snow Queen‘, a glittering winter tale of love of friendship.
Go to the Castle of Light
Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Head to Edinburgh Castle for an evening of lights and colours, as projections are placed along the castle walls guiding you through. You’ll discover stories of Scotland and the castle itself, told in in twinkling lights and colourful displays.
The Castle of Light is on set dates during November and December. Head to the website to book your tickets.
Go Christmas shopping
Edinburgh is a great place to get your Christmas shopping done, with a huge amount of independent shops.
Head to St James Quarter and Princes Street for high street names, or Cockburn Street and Stockbridge for independent shops.
Of course, you also have the markets mentioned above if you’re looking for local brands.
Multrees Walk is where to go if you’re looking for luxury, with stores such as Louis Vuitton and Coach.
If you want to get traditional Scottish goods such as cashmere, whisky or tweed then there’s no shortage of shops to choose from – but we’d recommend doing a bit of research first as the quality can vary wildly. Take your time to compare the quality and price at a few different stored before making your choice.
How to spend New Year in Edinburgh
If you’re lucky enough to be staying in Edinburgh for New Year, book your hogmanay tickets for the street party or legendary Concert in the Gardens – in 2022 this is going to be headed by the Pet Shop Boys. Of course there will be fireworks at midnight, to light up the sky behind Edinburgh Castle. If you want to catch them for free, you can always head up Calton Hill for a beautiful view of the city.
Weather at Christmas in Edinburgh
The weather in Edinburgh at Christmas is cold and dark, with sunset around 4pm. There might be some snow but it’s unlikely, but expect rain!
The temperature will range from about -1 to 7 degrees Celsius.
We hope you’ve found this article useful and got some ideas for how to spend Christmas in Edinburgh. If you have any questions or your own tips, leave them in the comments below!