With just a few sleeps left until the big day, it’s time to start feeling a little festive in Edinburgh! Step back in time with Lauriston’s traditional festivities, visit Santa Claus and his Elves or unravel the Christmas Tree maze in George Street.
Here are our Top 10 things to see to enjoy Christmas near Edinburgh Airport to add a little sparkle to your holiday season.
1 Advent calendar
Visit the General Register House in Edinburgh for a Christmas display like no other…
From 5.30 to 10pm each day, wonder at the magical projected display showing glimpses of Christmases gone by, dating back to 1700!
Thanks to National collections and libraries, you can skate through time with the General Register House this Christmas. Spot the Beatles, Edinburgh Zoo penguins in 1965, soldiers from 1917, recreations of curling from 1860 and Ceilidh dancing in 1780. There’s a different show to discover each night so you’ll never be disappointed.
Visit Edinburgh’s larger-than-life advent calendar. Here’s a sneak peak of day 1!
2 Lauriston Castle Christmas
Step back in time to 1910 at Lauriston Castle this Christmas and leave Edinburgh’s bustling city streets behind. The Castle takes 15 minutes to drive to or 35 minutes on the bus to get to from Edinburgh Airport. Check out our Transport Guide for tips to get around Christmas at Edinburgh.
The team have dressed the whole castle into a classy and festive 1910. With traditional wreaths, candles and lights as well as a magical lantern show for all of their guests; expect to sing along with carols around the Christmas Tree and get creative with festive biscuits in the kitchen! Lauriston runs two tours a day, one at 2pm and another at 3pm and we recommend booking in advance.
Discover Christmas with the family at Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh.
3 Clique Noël
Clique Noël is a show like no other. Originally from Edinburgh Fringe 2004, La Clique has been acclaimed as “the best show in the fringe” and now it’s returning with a new festive edition.
Enjoy a wonderful night of festive frolics, seasonal treats from the subterranean world of intrigue, circus, magic, performance and music.
The only thing to bare in mind is that it comes with an adult content warning and under 16s have to be accompanied by an adult. If it’s a different kind of miraculous Christmas you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed!
Showing until January 6th, you can catch it at the Festival Square Spiegeltent which is around a 25 minute journey from Edinburgh Airport. Watch Joyeux Noël from the Clique in Edinburgh this Christmas.
4 Chinese Lanterns at Edinburgh Zoo
This may not been the most traditional of Christmas events, but trust us when we say it’s the best way to bring light into the dark winter evenings. The giant Chinese Lantern Display takes you all around the zoo with evanescent, three-dimensional creatures from Blue Poison Arrow frogs to peacocks and life-size lions.
As well as the beautiful lanterns, you can buy a discount day entry ticket letting you roam around the Zoo and see over 1,000 rare and endangered species that call Edinburgh Zoo home – including the UK’s only Giant pandas and koala Joey!
See Edinburgh Zoo for their beautiful Giant Lantern display this Christmas in Edinburgh.
5 Nutcracker with the Scottish Ballet
Fall in love with the Sugar Plum Fairy with this romantic Christmas classic, live from the Scottish Ballet.
Celebrated as “the best nutcracker” (DanceTabs), it’s sure to light up your trip to Scotland! It’ll take you around 40 minutes on the train or a 30 minute drive or taxi ride from the airport. The Nutcracker is probably Tchaikovsky’s most famous work and the Scottish Ballet brings it fully to life with its magic, mystery, royals and festivities. Matinees are at 2.30pm, evening performances at 7.30pm.
6 Christmas at the Botanics
Light up your Christmas with the Royal Botanic Garden’s displays. Follow the illuminated trail through the Fire Garden with its carpet of dancing flames, Choir of Trees, Crystal Lawn and Beech Hedge, illuminated by sparkling light.
On top of the regular gardens, throughout the day you can pick up a mulled cider, toast marshmallows at the Festive Fair and even visit Santa and his Elves!
While this festive landmark fits a busy schedule, you can always stay for dinner with their special Christmas Menu if you have the time.
7 Ice Adventure including Ice Bar, George Street
Just 35 minutes on the train from Edinburgh Airport, the Ice Adventure comes in at an impressive number 4 in our Top 10 for Christmas. This year is full of incredible ice sculptures, from festive favourites to national icons, you can see everything from stags frozen in ice to unicorns and christmas lights. The cherry on the top is the Ice Bar where you can enjoy Shackleton Whisky at sub-zero temperatures.
Since the whole venue is a chilly -10°c, make sure to pack extra layers and don’t forget the gloves!
Admission is £7pp and it’s on George Street so you’re surrounded by festivities, rides and wintertime activities, making it easy to get to and easy to explore other nearby Christmas attractions.
See what’s on at the Ice Kingdom.
8 George Street Christmas Market
Let Santa know what you’d like for Christmas with the George Street Market Grotto. There’s plenty to enjoy for the whole family; a fleet of local markets serving warm food, drinks, locally made crafts, fairground rides and more. It’s twinned with the Ice Adventure, coming in at #3.
The best thing about this attraction is you can pop by whenever you want and it works around your busy schedule.
It’s a 30 minute drive or train ride and it’s in the centre of the city so should be easy to find (follow EH2 4YN if you’re lost).
Explore Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets for home made food, goods and gifts.
9 Ice Skating at Melville Monument
It wouldn’t be a proper Christmas Top 10 without some family ice skating.
Edinburgh’s Melville Monument in the centre of the city has been transformed into a circular Ice Rink for you and your fellow travellers to enjoy. With tickets from £5, you’ll stay safe in your holiday budget and since it’s so central, it’s one of the easiest festive places to visit. Take a 35 minute train to St Andrew Square or hail an airport taxi which just takes 30 minutes.
Why not give it a spin?
10 Santa Land
Ho Ho Ho! Santa Land is your most complete, all-inclusive, and family fun attraction you’ll find in Edinburgh this Christmas.
You can find it just off East Princes Street which is just down the road from the major George Street Attractions. It includes a mind-bending Christmas Tree Maze, Santa Train, rides, a Rollercoaster and the big man in red Himself.
It takes just half an hour to get to on the train from Edinburgh Airport and because it’s so central, you can walk 5 minutes down the road to see the George Street Christmas Market, festive city street lights or up to Edinburgh Castle to see the city from up high.
It’s free to enter and all the attractions are pay as you go. So whether you want to ride the helter skelter, unravel the Christmas tree maze or pick up a glass of mulled wine, you don’t have to pay over the odds.
Special Mention – Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (New Year)
Hogmanay in Edinburgh is unmissable. Their new year celebrations include a torchlit procession, street party with The Human League (Don’t You Love Me, 1981), Concert in the Gardens with Rag’n’Bone Man (Human, 2017), Edinburgh Castle Ceilidh as well asthe Loony Dook (River Forth dip in fancy dress) and Bairns Afore (Family orientated firework display).
Bring 2018 in with style, from December 30th to January 1st with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival. The streets will be lit up with stages, music, drinking and jollies so raise a glass and enjoy the fun.