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Have yourself a very Scottish Christmas and New Year

Glasgow on Ice
Glasgow on Ice

Scotland’s Winter Festivals celebrate the spirit and fun of the festive season, all warmed up with a cosy jumper and a wee dram. Across the land, Scotland’s towns, cities and villages are dressed up and ready to sparkle, offering Christmas markets full of delicious local produce and fun and attractions to keep the naughty and nice children entertained.

Here are some forthcoming events you may wish to attend:


From now until January 3: Aberdeen Winter Festival

Aberdeen will have a Christmas Village, open-air ice rink and festive fairground rides. Other festive features will include the Christmas lights, Trinity Centre reindeer parade, Nativity Scene and carol concert and Hogmanay celebrations. Visit: for full details.

December 11-13: Inverness Winter Wonderland
The Winter Wonderland event will take place over the weekend of Friday, December 11, to Sunday, December 13, and provide an opportunity for children to meet Santa and his reindeer in a beautifully illuminated Whin Park in Inverness. The Winter Wonderland show is hugely popular with the youngest members of the Inverness community, and is one of the highlights of the Winter Festival for toddlers. The event will see the return of the giant inflatable “Walk on Water” balls on the Whin Park boating lake.

From now to January 4: Christmas in Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital really pulls out the stops for the festive season, beginning with the stalls of the continental-style Christmas market on East Princes Street Gardens, set under the gaze of a frost-covered Edinburgh Castle. Funfair attractions range from the Big Wheel to the gravity-defying Star Flyer. For a fun day or night out with family, St Andrew Square features the Spiegeltent, where shows take place, the Scottish market, a children’s market, the helter-skelter, one of the two fantastic carousels, a circular ice rink and bars. Visit www.edinburghs for more information.

Edinburgh’s impressive Virgin Money Street of Light
Edinburgh’s impressive Virgin Money Street of Light

A new feature for Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations is the Virgin Money Street of Light. Running until Christmas Eve, the specially designed architectural installation of 60,000+ lights stretches along the Royal Mile, from the City Chambers to the Tron Kirk. Audiences will enter the canopy of light, rising to 19 metres high, and listen to specially commissioned recordings from choirs from across Edinburgh all synchronised to the lights. (The event is free but ticketed: see for more information).

Now on: Glasgow Loves Christmas

George Square will be a hub of festive activity, with free, family-friendly entertainment every day of the week. Enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and the beautiful tree surrounded by the festive displays. Go for a drink in the pavilion bar area or have fun on the fairground rides which includes the much-loved carousel. This year’s Glasgow Christmas Market will open from now until Sunday, December 20, at St Enoch Square.

December 13 and 20: Christmas at Blair Castle, Perthshire

Set within the beautiful Perthshire countryside, visit Blair Castle at Christmas, decorated as it was in the Victorian era, when the 7th Duke lived and his family lived there. The rooms are decorated to give an insight into how they might have celebrated Christmas. Enjoy a break from Christmas shopping with a three-course Christmas Sunday lunch next to the roaring fire in the historic ballroom and finish off your visit with a trip to Santa’s magical grotto, set in one of the oldest parts of the castle. Back by popular demand, Santa will be returning with his bagpipes this year, entertaining boys and girls with Christmas jingles and special requests. (Castle tour priced from £7.90pp; visit for more information).


December 30, Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations begin on Wednesday, December 30, with a torchlight procession as 10,000 torchbearers wind their way through the city streets lined with tens of thousands of spectators. On Thursday, December 31, the musical line-up across the seven stages in the centre of the city promises to deliver an exhilarating party soundtrack for the anticipated 75,000 revellers. The Concert in the Gardens (which has sold out within a record 10 days) features headliners Biffy Clyro with very special guests Idlewild and Honeyblood for a very strong all-Scottish line-up. Other features include the Old Town Ceilidh and Street Party, with additional stage and screens. Tickets for the world-famous Street Party, The Old Town Ceilidh, and pre-booked Torches for the Torchlight Procession are on sale now from www.edinburghs

December 31, Stirling

The iconic Stirling Castle esplanade is a magical place to be on New Year’s Eve. The streets of Stirling will come alive with a carnival parade of light and sound, and midnight fireworks over the city’s historic skyline. The Hogmanay celebrations include a programme of family-friendly entertainment for the countdown to midnight fireworks. The celebrations will be rounded off on January 1, with Stirling’s Resolution Run, a 5K organised with local sports clubs to kick off the new year. Contact:

The giant inflatable “Walk on Water” balls at Whin Park, Inverness

December 31, Inverness

Bringing the Winter Festival to a close will be Scotland’s largest free Hogmanay concert, The Red Hot Highland Fling, which will take place in the Northern Meeting Park Arena. Comedian Craig Hill will host the four-hour show, introducing headliners Capercaillie, who will be joined by two former winners of the Scottish Trad Music Live Band of the Year Award, Breabach and Skerryvore.

Capercaillie features the peerless voice of co-founder Karen Matheson, who is recognised as one of the finest Gaelic singers alive today, and the band are really excited about performing at their first Red Highland Fling, as band member Charlie McKerron confirmed.

“We are really looking forward to seeing the crowd jigging and reeling along to our set for ourselves, because we have heard so much about the great party you have up there.”

For more information on festive events in Scotland, and to download VisitScotland’s A-Z of Winter in Scotland, visit For information on Scotland’s Winter Festivals, visit