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How to celebrate Christmas and Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Now that it’s officially acceptable to start playing Christmas music and putting up the festive decorations, we thought it might be time to start planning for the festive season.

Our historic venue has been around awhile, since 1842 to be precise, so we like to consider ourselves the experts when it comes to celebrating Christmas and Hogmanay in Edinburgh and since Christmas is all about the spirit of giving, we’re giving you our top tips on celebrating in Edinburgh this year.

Light Night – 19th November 2017, 3.00pm

Light Night is the night when the Christmas lights of Edinburgh go live.  It’s a free event throughout the city and is all about family and community.  Choirs from across Scotland perform in front of an expected audience of around 20,000 people, hosted by Forth One DJ Arlene Stuart.

The Christmas tree on the Mound, a gift to the City of Edinburgh Council from Hordaland County Council in Norway, will be lit as part of the Light Night switch-on and the lights go on at 5 pm with a burst of fireworks.

Christmas Shopping

Once the celebrations are underway in late November, many of Edinburgh’s shops stay open later so you can shop under the stars.  Some streets put on special evenings and celebrations, stringing up lights and decorations.  Find your way to enclaves such as William Street, Marchmont or Multrees Walk for some stylish and festive retail therapy.

Packed with great bars and cafes, Edinburgh is also a brilliant place to enjoy a festive mince pie or hot chocolate.  Cafe Hub is always popular for shoppers on the Royal Mile looking for a winter warmer in cosy, vibrant surroundings. Our 12 foot Christmas tree adds the extra festive touch.

Other places to enjoy the Christmas spirit include the traditional markets and Santa Land. In the heart of the city, the market offers a fun shopping experience with its fair of crafters, artists, gift shops and gastronomic surprises.

Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar

This year, history lovers will enjoy the giant advent calendar projected onto the General Register House.  With 25 views of Edinburgh Winters from years gone-by, projections will be at varying times from 5.30pm to 10pm every day, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you’re passing!

And the best part is: it’s absolutely free.

Edinburgh’s White Christmas

If you are after a white Christmas, Edinburgh has its own ice ring round the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square which brings a festive frost to your Christmas shopping.   Also icy and white is the immersive Ice Adventure: a Journey through Frozen Scotland.  This walk-through attraction which takes visitors through Scotland’s rich and magical history – in ice!  Ice sculptures of historical figures, mythical creatures and animals, will amaze visitors as they learn more about our country – all at -10 degrees!


Edinburgh really comes to life at Hogmanay and with three days packed full of celebration, it’s no wonder that Edinburgh is known as the home of Hogmanay.  From the traditional to the downright bonkers, there is something for everyone.

Credit: Chris Watt

From the kick-off Torchlight Procession on 30 December things take a magical turn.  Thousands of people blaze a trail to Holyrood Park where they are met with a festival of fire.  The procession is breathtaking and is ideal for all ages.

On Hogmanay itself the city bursts into life with the famous Street Party.  Princes Street becomes a river of revellers with music, entertainment, street performers, DJs and dancers.  It’s an experience people never forget.

For those lucky enough, the Concert in the Gardens is the ultimate festival ticket for the headline music act, Rag’n’Bone Man, and the best view of the midnight fireworks.

Credit: Imaginar

There really is no better way to ring in the New Year…

Credit: Chris Watt

On New Year’s Day head down to South Queensferry where a procession through the town culminates in participants leaping into the freezing Forth in an experience known as the Loony Dook.  Set against the backdrop of Scotland’s three iconic bridges, for the less brave, there are plenty of bars and restaurants from which to enjoy the sight of the dookers.

So if you’re in Edinburgh this holiday season, there’s plenty for you to see and do. Don’t forget to pay us a visit and enjoy a delicious Scottish breakfast, hearty lunch or an afternoon tea experience. Situated in the heart of Old Town, we’re the perfect stop to rest your feet after a full day exploring Edinburgh’s festive fun.