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TRAVEL: Getting into the festive spirit with a visit to Edinburgh’s Christmas market

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There is something magical about this time of year.

Except for the fact that no matter how many Christmas adverts I watched or pine-scented candles I burned, I was finding it very difficult to get into the festive spirit.

So, when the opportunity came up to take a trip down to Edinburgh and visit the Christmas market, I jumped at the chance to stomp out the Scrooge in me.

My friend and I took a morning train out of Aberdeen and were in the capital by lunchtime.

As we emerged from the station out into Princes Street, we were immediately greeted by bustling crowds and Christmas carols.

Entering the large market, there were market-goers sipping on warm drinks and we were greeted by a mix of inviting smells.

Cosy wooden stalls and cabins were lined up on the transformed Princes Street Gardens.

Every year, my brain is tricked into believing that the market gets bigger and bigger.

Having a look around, we decided to get something warm and hearty for lunch.

Decisions, decisions – we simply couldn’t pick, and our grumbling stomachs weren’t making it any easier.

We finally settled on The Mac Shack, which serves up gourmet mac and cheese that’s gooey, creamy and warm. We opted for the “posh mac and cheese” with truffle oil drizzled on top which elevated the classic flavour.

Like impatient toddlers, my friend and I eagerly eyed the rides and decided to start with the Yeti. After being strapped into our seats, the ride tossed us around like snowballs.

We were bounced around erratically and, as scary as it felt, we laughed until our faces hurt.

Following that, we tried our hand at something gentler and went through the Christmas Tree Maze, which smelled divine.

There were bumper cars, a helter skelter, a beautiful double-tiered carousel and the 60-metre-high Star Flyer – that we, ultimately, chickened out of riding, but it was entertaining to watch from the ground.

By the time we made it to the iconic big wheel, it was dark, and the market was completely illuminated by twinkling lights.

If you’re looking for stunning views of Edinburgh and the festive village lit up at night, this is the ride for you.

The highlight of the evening was definitely the Night Walk of Edinburgh. At first we had no idea what we were signing ourselves up for.

The pick-up point was located above Waverley Mall and we walked through the rain to Bookmarket, a pop-up shop by The Fruitmarket Gallery.

Although we weren’t sure what to expect, we quickly realised this would become the favourite part of our trip so far.

After being handed noise-cancelling headphones and a smartphone from the shop, we followed a map to the start of our adventure.

For the next hour, we were guided through the backstreets of the Old Town with artist Janet Cardiff’s voice in our ears directing us, while watching eerie, magical scenes on the screen in our hands.

Her voice was airy and wistful, making the psuedo-murder mystery highly immersive.

What was especially interesting was how I was able to experience Edinburgh in a completely different way – however, I would recommend checking the weather forecast before setting off for the hour-long walk through the city.

It was no surprise that after all the steps we had taken we had worked up an appetite.

At The Wedgwood Restaurant, located on the Royal Mile, staff warmly welcomed us to the softly lit dining room.

My friend mentioned how comfortable the atmosphere made her feel as we looked through the menu. As a starter, we were both intrigued by the Mull of Kintyre cheddar and onion bread and butter pudding, topped with fennel ice cream and a pickled tomato.

A savoury ice cream as a starter? I had never heard of it, but I was hooked from the moment it arrived.

As with every dish brought out, it was beautifully presented. Cutting into the butter pudding, the sweet, fragrant, anise-like fennel ice cream paired beautifully with the cheese.

For our mains, I decided on the potato gnocchi with Perthshire wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke, squash, spinach and pumpkin seed granola. Buttery, fluffy and filling, the gnocchi was unlike any I’d had before.

My friend tucked into the rose veal sirloin, which was accompanied by a braised Angus shin croquette, parsnips and barley. Her meat was perfectly cooked and tender.

The next day the weather had cleared up and we returned to the market where we spent a relaxing afternoon in the Johnny Walker Bothy Bar.

With a cup of hot chocolate at hand and the views of the village below us, I feel that our trip to the market was just the thing I needed to revive the festive spirit inside me.

The Edinburgh Christmas Market runs until January 4 2020. Visit www.edinburghschristmas.com

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