By Lauren Cameron
If there is one thing Scotland does right, it’s Christmas Markets.
From about mid-November to the beginning of January it seems like the entire country turns into a Christmas wonderland, with beautiful decorations and tons of events that last for weeks!
I’m here to share some of the highlights I’ve experienced so far, and the must see and do Christmas activities if you’re in Edinburgh. An entire block of Princes Street Gardens is dedicated to Edinburgh’s Christmas Market, which is the main attraction! However, there are many other fun things to do and see, so don’t miss out!
Christmas at the Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanical Garden is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year, but especially at Christmas. They have unique light displays running on specific nights from the end of November to Christmas, and they are absolutely stunning! Christmas at the Botanic Gardens will make all of your Christmas light dreams come true.
Light Night this year was November 2018. It is the official lighting of the Christmas lights in Edinburgh, and is a free event! George Street is covered in Christmas lights, but the real attraction is the gigantic Christmas light display at the end of the street, which is being lit on this particular night. Live music and performers are set up on stages all down the street, with the biggest stage, featuring a giant switch, at the end. The lights get turned on at 5 o’clock, and are accompanied by a beautiful firework show! Be sure to arrive a bit early, the street gets very crowded. Definitely check this out if you’re in Scotland in mid-November!
What Canadian doesn’t love skating at Christmas time? As part of the Edinburgh’s Christmas Market, a circular skating rink is set up in St. Andrew’s Square, and you can rent skates and enjoy some hot chocolate while having fun with your friends! One of the many fun things to do at the Christmas Market.
Christmas Market: Rides
One of the best parts of the Christmas Market is the rides! If you go online and book tickets beforehand, and you have an Edinburgh Postal Code, you get a discount! Definitely take advantage of this, as the market can get quite pricey. My favourite ride was the Ferris Wheel, the views from it were stunning! Some friends of mine went on a High Flyer, and there was a ride called the Yeti. The carousal is absolutely beautiful as well. There is also a section specifically for kids, if you happen to have some young family members visiting! As well, though not technically a ride, there is a Christmas Tree Maze that, though not very difficult, is absolutely beautiful for pictures!
Christmas Market: Food
The Christmas Market has a wide selection of food booths, all of which are absolutely delicious. Though I haven’t tried them all (I’m on a student budget), I did try some mulled wine (basically Christmas in a cup) and mac and cheese, both of which were absolutely delicious! There are booths dedicated to desserts, with waffles and crepes, and even a fudge stand! Whatever food you’re craving, you can probably find it at the market!
Christmas Market: The Actual Market
I realize I’ve dedicated three points to the Christmas Market itself, but it’s just such a big event! The market is made up of tons of booths, with vendors selling anything you could possibly need as a Christmas gift. Sweaters, scarves, candles, you name it, there’s something for everyone! I picked up a set of watercolour drawings of Edinburgh as a souvenir of my time here, and the drawings are of some of my favourite spots in Edinburgh! A lot of the booths contain handmade creations, which make them especially unique! Definitely spend some time Christmas shopping here.
Technically, this is after Christmas, and technically, it hasn’t happened yet. Hogmanay is Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebration, and boasts live music and fireworks. People travel from all over to attend this event, so if this sounds like your thing, definitely check it out in your time abroad. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, as I’ll be at home in Canada for New Years, but it is supposed to be amazing!
If you’re studying in Scotland, or anywhere in the UK, definitely take a trip to Edinburgh to visit the Christmas Market and other festivities! I walk by the Christmas Market all the time, and it never loses its magic. It has been one of my favourite experiences so far during my year in Edinburgh!
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