If you have ever visited the city of Edinburgh, you will know it’s a breathtakingly beautiful destination all year round and Christmas time is no exception. In fact, the lights, street decorations and cheerful atmosphere make this an especially spectacular time to visit the city. Here are just a few things to do to make your Christmas trip to Edinburgh unforgettable:

1. Enjoy the decorations

The Dome, Edinburgh

Seasonal decorations at Christmas time are standard in any city but Edinburgh takes it to the next level! Each year around 200,000 individual light bulbs are dotted around the city, making the already breathtaking scenery completely spectacular. This year Scottish singer and Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Susan Boyle will switch on the lights during the Light Night, a free event on George Street which features a series of performances to celebrate all things Christmas.

Light Night, 22nd November, George Street

Edinburgh's tree

Don’t miss the iconic Christmas tree on The Mound which is gifted each year from the Hordaland County Council in Norway as thanks for the support given during WWII.

2. Visit the Street of Light

Edinburgh: Street of Light

This year we’ll have more decorations than ever as Virgin Money launches its inaugural Street of Light event to light up Edinburgh’s Old Town this Christmas. Over 60,000 lights will stretch along the historic Royal Mile and synchronise with music from choirs from across Edinburgh to create a unique spectacle.

30th November – 24th December, 6.30pm & 8.15pm (Sundays: 5.30pm & 7.30pm)

3. Explore Edinburgh’s Secrets with the 24 Doors of Advent


In association with the Cockburn Association which organises Edinburgh’s annual Doors Open Day, buildings around Edinburgh which are usually closed to the public will open their doors free of charge for one day only in December.

24 Doors of Advent, 1st December – 24th December

4. Take your inner child to the fairground rides

All the fun of the fair 2

The Big Wheel has only recently become a permanent installation in Princes Street Gardens but it offers particularly spectacular views around Christmas time. If you’re feeling brave, you can also take in the scenery from the Star Flyer which stretches almost 60 metres high. If heights are not for you, there will also be a vintage-style carousel and good, old fashioned Helter Skelter to bring out the child in you.

Rides and Attractions 20th November – 4th January

5. Visit the Christmas Markets

Busy Christmas Market.

Enjoy a glass of Gluwein and a Raclette at the popular European Christmas market. It’s been a … of Edinburgh’s Christmas for 20 years now and is bigger than ever with stalls stretching from the Mound, right along East Princes Street Gardens. At St Andrew’s Square you can visit the Scottish Market with the one of the best selections of crafts, food and drink that Scotland has to offer. Both are great places to pick up quirky and unique Christmas presents for family and friends.

Edinburgh Christmas Markets 20th November – 4th January

6. Go ice skating

skating around the round rink 01

Throughout the festive season, you can take advantage of the temporary ice rinks in Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew’s Square! Skate hire is included in the cost of the ticket and you can enjoy a hot toddy at the nearest market stall to warm you up afterwards.

Outdoor Ice Rinks, 20th November – 4th January

7. Do some Christmas shopping

Jenners Christmas Tree

Soak up the bustling atmosphere of Princes Street in December and pick up some gifts for your loved ones. Make sure to pop into Edinburgh’s most iconic department store, Jenners to see the impressive decorations and a Christmas tree that stands three floors high!

8. Take part in the Santa fun run


Raise money for charity and join hundreds of Santas in running, walking or strolling around West Princes Street Gardens on a 2.5km circuit. If you don’t fancy dressing up, you can still enjoy watching this bizarre spectacle from a distance.

13th December, Princes Street Gardens

9. Stock up on decorations at one of the Christmas shops


Strangely, these shops are open all year round so you can get your Christmas decorations well in advance. Visit the Nutcracker Christmas Shop or Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe on the Royal Mile for a beautiful selection of decorations, trinkets and all things Christmas.

10. See a pantomime

snow white

It’s perhaps not the most high-brow form of entertainment but nothing screams Christmas like a good old fashioned panto! This year the King’s Theatre is presenting Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which is sure to be a production packed with comedy, drama and outrageous costumes!

28th November – 17th January, Kings Theatre

You find out about even more great things to do in Edinburgh this Christmas here!