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Blog » Things to see and do in Edinburgh during Christmas

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Edinburgh, 'The Inspiring Capital', as it brands itself certainly has a lot of inspiration on offer. The city is famous for more than just its sights, namely the prolific castle, as it plays host to an impressive array of year-round international festivals. CityXplora offers the best things to do in Edinburgh including City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tours and attraction tickets- so all you need to do now is book a good fringe show. Or if you're feeling energetic take a stroll through Hollyrood park and ascend Arthur's Seat to take in the view.

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Things to see and do in Edinburgh during Christmas

From November 21st until January 4th Edinburgh will join the rest of the UK in kicking off its Christmas celebrations. Should you find yourself in the Scottish capital at this time you'll be immersed in a festive atmosphere rivalled by few throughout the country. As this is CityXplora's first Christmas since launching in June we're particularly excited about this incredible fair taking place in one of our most important cities. We therefore present our own breakdown of all the highlight activities and things to see in Edinburgh during this wonderful time of the year.

We'll start off right in the beating heart of the city, the East Princes Street Gardens. This lively park regularly serves as a focal point for various annual celebrations (such as the famous Hogmanay), and as the main venue of Edinburgh's official Christmas itinerary it will feature some of the most iconic attractions. First of all there's the Big Wheel, with its 36 panoramic pods, and a glistening ice rink set amidst dangling lights and a stunning city skyline backdrop. Surrounding these two visitor favourites you will also find the exhilarating 'Star Flyer' as well as a traditional European market serving more hot and cold delights than you can shake a candy cane at.

If you're bringing the kids along to the gardens then be sure to check out Santa Land, where a whole flurry of delights ideally suited to youngsters lie within plain sight. Pay Father Christmas a visit at his grotto, weave your way through the Christmas tree maze, and take a ride on the Santa Train.

If you happen to take our main hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour of Edinburgh during the holiday season then you're in for an even greater treat, as many more locations see their landmarks decorated, lit up, and embellished with fun attractions. Take for example St. Andrew Square (Stop 2 on the Edinburgh Tour). Here you will find the Scottish Market, which serves up some of the finest food, drink and seasonal crafts the nation has to offer. There's savoury stalls that display everything from locally sourced sausages to fresh seafood, sweet vendors whose displays are replete with chocolate and gummies of every variety, and showcases of the best craft beers and spirits.

In the last week of November take a walk along George Street or travel there by hopping-off at the Edinburgh Tour's third stop to see 'Light Night'. Not only does George Street harbour some of the best bars in Edinburgh but come the 23rd it will be bouncing with the music, dances and stage acts of an estimated 1,250 performers. Arlene Stuart from Forth Radio will be hosting this particular event, and you can also expect there to be incredible pyrotechnics displays.

As St. Andrew's Day on November 30th (Scotland's National Day) coincides with the Christmas celebrations it also offers a plethora of exciting things to see and do. On this day the skating rinks at the East Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square will be free to access, and a series of live performances will be taking place at the Spiegeltent, including The Hazey Janes, The Banjo Lounge 4, the Robert Fish Band and much more.

Let's not forget the other shows taking place at various venues throughout Edinburgh. Enjoy a pantomime such as the children's classic Aladdin at the King's Theatre from November 29th to January 18th. Another kid friendly performance will be taking place at the Royal Lyceum Theatre from November 28th until the 3rd of January, here they will be putting on an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Lastly, at the Festival Theatre on Nicolson Street the Scottish Ballet will be putting on performances of The Nutcracker from December 13th till January 3rd.

All gallery photos © Fraser Cameron