For some, Christmas starts with the first bite of a home-made mince pie, or the prising open of an advent calendar door on December 1.
For many, however, the only way to truly get into the festive spirit is with a visit to a Christmas market.
Aberdeen’s very own Christmas Village opens today on Broad Street and sees the return of carnival rides, market stalls, mulled-wine vendors and more, for five weeks of festive cheer.
Organised by Aberdeen Inspired with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s Amusement Park, the event is now in its third year at the city centre location and will once again extend along Upperkirkgate.
“We are delighted to bring seasonal spirit into the heart of the city centre with the Aberdeen Christmas Village,” said Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired.
“Now open to the public, it is certainly starting to look a lot like Christmas and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy everything on offer.
“We have built on the previous offering and introduced new elements as well as increasing the number of stalls in the Christmas in the Quad market to showcase the fantastic talent we have on our doorstep.”
A festive-themed crazy golf course is among the new attractions for 2019, along with a children’s balloon ride and last year’s big hit, the death-defying 150ft Blizzard for thrill seekers.
Old favourites such as the open-air ice rink and helter-skelter have also returned, while German chalets have been set up in the Marischal College quad with space for independent stallholders.
One such stallholder is Laura Cooke, who runs a small business making hand-made Scottish flower jewellery.
“I’m actually based in Angus primarily but the Aberdeen Christmas Village really appealed to me,” she said.
“I’ve been to the markets in Glasgow and Edinburgh and to be honest they sell a lot of the same mass-produced stuff.
“I really like how the Aberdeen market is putting an emphasis on small, independent, Scottish businesses.
“Lots of my jewellery is one of a kind too, so I think making that connection with the customer is important.
“Plus the setting is just fantastic here – being right in the middle of Marischal College feels so grand.”
Along with jewellery and other crafts, the stalls will offer visitors the chance to purchase everything from clothing and homeware to gourmet food and drink.
This year also sees an increased number of cabins and a new layout to encourage shoppers to spend more time in the area.
In addition to the stalls and rides, open from today, this Sunday will see the annual switch-on of the Union Street Christmas lights with a parade from Albyn Place, down Union Street to the Castlegate.
Another attraction which opens this weekend is the Friends of Anchor festive silent disco.
In a first for the north-east, the charity is bringing back the old-fashioned tradition of carol singing – but with a modern twist.
Each participant will be given a pair of wireless headphones to wear, through which festive tunes will be broadcast for a half-hour all-singing, all-dancing tour of the city centre.
“We are so excited to be bringing this to the Aberdeen Christmas Village,” said Elena Aspe, Friends of Anchor’s fundraising and volunteer co-ordinator.
“We really wanted to bring something new to the market, so every weekend between now and Christmas we will be running tours with the team who put together the silent disco at the Edinburgh Fringe.
“Up to 30 people can take part in each session and there are different tours for families during the day, suitable for kids age five and up.
“All the profits are going directly to Friends of Anchor so your festive boogie will also benefit a great cause.”
Aberdeen’s Christmas Village is open every day from today until December 31 on Broad Street. For details, see aberdeeninspired.com/christmasvillage The Silent Disco tours will take place every hour throughout the weekends leading up to Christmas. Slots must be pre-booked by emailing info@friendsofAnchor.org