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Every year around Christmas time, Edinburgh opens up one of the most world-renowned Christmas markets – right in the city centre. Princes Street Gardens, George Street, and St. Andrew’s Square are always packed full of rides, attractions, and stalls, as well as a thousand other incredible things to do. It’s no wonder why people travel from all over the world to come to the Scottish Capital for Christmas. But with so much going on all around you, it can be hard to know what you’ve missed.
The Gardens at Princess street are home to one of the most spectacular marketplaces. Originally known as the ‘German Market’, the site now holds stalls from all over Europe – and as you walk through it, your nostrils will be overrun with the beautiful smells of European spices and sweets in the air. It really is an experience like no other. Try some local Scottish festive cuisine, like venison burgers or mulled Irn Bru, or be a bit more adventurous and have some delicious German sausages or Spanish churros. Hot drinks are served all over the market, with most stalls offering an environmentally friendly “rent-a-cup” service, so you don’t need to feel bad about single-use plastics.
George Street is one of the main shopping and dining districts in the city centre. For a couple of months in the year, half of the street is closed off to traffic, so that a world-class alpine ice rink can be placed in the middle of it! The rink is incredibly accessible – accommodating those who can skate and those who can’t, with skating aids provided. Wheelchair users are also welcome on the rink. We think this is the perfect way to get into the festive spirit.
Right next to the Scott Monument, and opposite our Old Waverley Hotel, the star flyer shoots thrill-seekers into the sky and spins them round and round! This ride is straight out of a theme park and is a city-wide favourite every year. If you can keep your eyes open, you’ll be offered one of the best views of the Christmas markets from the top. Just make sure not to eat too much before you go on, or you could accidentally decorate the streets of Edinburgh!
Every year, Christmas at the Botanics offers a wonderful light-show experience like no other. Running until the 2nd of January, the Royal Botanic Garden’s 17,000 species of plants are being lit up every night, with immersive colour and patterns; in a spectacle, you won’t want to miss. This light show trail can be an amazing night out with the whole family but is also perfect for late-night dates. The lights are all truly mesmerising and if you look at #christmasatthebotanics on Instagram you will see thousands of reasons why!
On top of the Mound, in Edinburgh’s city centre, you will spot a gigantic, 60ft Norwegian ‘Christmas Tree’. This has been traditional since 1949, and is a received gift from Norway, in thanks for Scottish assistance during the war. It’s always decorated in fabulous lights and is a sight to behold! Grab a fantastic photo opportunity, and brag to your friends that you experienced Edinburgh at Christmas time!