Edinburgh has the festive season down to a fine art
From street parties and fireworks, carol services and light shows, to the Loony Dook or ‘the lunatic dip’ into the icy waters of the Firth of Forth
When it comes to Christmas and New Year, Edinburgh has festivities down to a fine art.
The city’s European Christmas market takes place each year in East Princes Street Gardens, between the Old and New Towns. It’s one of the biggest Christmas markets in the country, and dozens of stalls line the gardens. Shop for small hand-crafted tree decorations, pick up a wooden German nutcracker or spend the day grazing and drinking piping-hot glühwein. If you have children in tow, they’re bound to enjoy a ride on the neighbouring ferris wheel too.
Ask anyone who knows Edinburgh where to have a celebratory cocktail and they’ll almost certainly recommend The Dome. It’s a Christmas institution and each year the Corinthian columns of the Greco-Roman-style building are wrapped with thousands of fairy lights and fir cones. Inside baubles, wreaths and decorations deck the halls and a magnificent Christmas tree sits on top of the marble bar. The Dome is on George Street, smack bang in the city centre, so it’ll be hard to find an excuse not to pop in for a tipple or two. For more information: thedomeedinburgh.com
Welcome in the season with Carols by Candlelight at St Mary’s Cathedral in the West End. The A-listed Gothic building, which is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site, looks particularly beautiful washed in an amber glow. St Giles’ Cathedral, in the heart of the Royal Mile, is also hosting a range of concerts throughout December. Sing carols alongside the cathedral choir or sit back and listen to the Piccadilly Sinfonietta, made up of some of the UK’s leading soloists and chamber musicians, perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
The Loony Dook, which translates in Scots as ‘the lunatic dip’, sees hundreds of brave souls, typically clad in fancy dress, walk the length of South Queensferry high street before running into the icy waters of the Firth of Forth. The New Year’s Day tradition has been going for more than 25 years and now attracts people from all over the world. If you can’t quite face the chill yourself, you can cheer on the swimmers from one of the pubs or cafés that line the shore. Rumour has it, though, that this is the only way to truly rid yourself of a Hogmanay hangover.
Where to stay in Edinburgh this Christmas: