Winter Tales Book Festival (3rd-5th December, New College)
New College is hosting its first-ever literary festival. The festival will take place over three days and cover literature, religion and the imagination. Confirmed speakers include Robert Harris, Sally Magnusson, Val McDermid, and more.
Scottish Jazz Weekend (10th–12th December, Online and In-Person)
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival’s has organised an exciting programme for Scottish Jazz Weekend which will treat audiences to Scotland’s diverse array of talented artists.
The National Whisky Festival (11th December, Summerhall)
Whether you’re a seasoned whisky enthusiast or a curious newcomer, The National Whisky Festival is a fun day out. There’ll be whisky tastings, masterclasses, pop-up food and drink stalls, plus live music.
Edinburgh International Magic Festival (17th–30th December, Various Locations)
Edinburgh International Magic Festival is back! The popular not-for-profit annual festival ensures fun for all ages through magic and the limitless possibilities of the human imagination.
The festive season is upon us and with it comes pantomimes, ballet performances, candlelight concerts and more. However, this time of year can also be a little overwhelming so if you’re looking for a few peaceful hours away from the frenzy, we’ve tried to include a diverse range of events.
New Arrivals: From Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville (Throughout December, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – Modern One, Free)
King’s Panto: Sleeping Beauty (Until 16th January, King’s Theatre, from £19)
Scottish Ballet: The Nutcracker (From 1st December, Festival Theatre, from £19.50)
Black History Walking Tour of Edinburgh (4th & 12th December, Melville Monument, £16)
Christmas Drive-In (4th–5th December, Murrayfield Ice Rink, £33)
Christmas Dinner (From 6th December, Lyceum Theatre, from £10)
1902 – A Play 114 Years In The Making (6th-11th December, Leith Arches, from £13)
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Christmas (11th December, St Mary’s Cathedral, from £19)
What the Dickens? – Immersive Christmas Show (13th-19th December, Stravaig Theatre, £8)
White Christmas (From 14th December, Edinburgh Playhouse, from £24)
Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Living Dangerously (18th December, Usher Hall, From £29.70)
Glasgow Experimental Music Series (19th December, Fruitmarket Gallery, Free)
The Best of Scottish Comedy Hogmanay Special (31st December, The Stand, £30)
After a year away from tradition festive celebrations, it’s clear that Edinburgh is making up for lost time so here are a few more events that are guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Colonnades (throughout December, Signet Library, £50 per person)
Enjoy a decadent festive afternoon tea at The Colonnades with sandwiches, delectable savouries and cakes made using the finest seasonal ingredients and served on silver tea stands.
Edinburgh Zoo’s Christmas Nights (until 2nd January, Edinburgh Zoo, £18)
Looking for a fun event for the family? Edinburgh Zoo is hosting a spectacular light trail – there may even be an appearance from Santa!
Christmas at the Botanics (until 2nd January, Royal Botanic Garden, £20)
The Botanics’ hugely popular illuminated trail is back. Discover sparkling tunnels of light, dancing waterside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colour.
Edinburgh Christmas (until 4th January, Various Locations)
Edinburgh Christmas is back and it’s bigger than ever! You can expect the annual Christmas markets, ice skating, and fairground rides as well as a new section in West Princes Street Garden.
The Mound Christmas Installation (until 4th January, The Mound, free)
Edinburgh-based artist Hannah Ayre has installed a beautiful art installation featuring cascading geometric snowflakes beside Edinburgh’s Christmas tree.
Castle of Light (until 9th January, Edinburgh Castle, £20)
Experience Edinburgh Castle at night with stunning visuals and state of the art lighting installations that guides you through the Castle grounds while you soak up the tales of this iconic landmark.
Spectacle of Light (From 4th December, Dalkeith Country Park, from £9.90)
Take a woodland walk through Dalkeith Country Park and enjoy luminescent blooms, the Nutcracker Garden and take in the view from Fort Douglas’ viewing platforms.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (29th December–1st January, Various Locations)
Bring this month to an explosive close with Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay celebrations! Its hugely popular street party, torchlight procession, and loony dook are back.
Edinburgh is known for its rich literary history and bookshops are an integral part of the city. Several host regular events and here is a selection:
Topping & Company (2 Blenheim Place)
Topping & Company will be welcoming four authors this month, one of them being, Alexander McCall Smith who will be chatting about his three new books (2nd December).
Golden Hare Books (68 St Stephen Street)
Golden Hare Books has organised a cosy evening in partnership with Smith & Gertrude for a Wine & Cheese Book Club. Enjoy brilliant reads, beautiful wines and seasonal cheese! (8th December)
Lighthouse Bookshop (43-45 W Nicolson Street)
Lighthouse Bookshop has arranged two interesting literary events for the month of December, The Future Generations Book Group: Postcolonial Love Poem (online, 6th December) and Women In Translation: Childhood (13th December).
Portobello Bookshop (46 Portobello High Street)
Lastly, Portobello Bookshop is welcoming Juno Dawson to celebrate her new festive book with an Edinburgh setting, Stay Another Day. The event is scheduled to take place in person but will also be live-streamed (2nd December).
Edinburgh is fortunate to have a variety of weekly neighbourhood markets to visit, here are a few to look out for.
Grassmarket Market (every Saturday, from 10am-5pm)
A weekly market offering freshly baked goods, seasonal produce, and local craftwork.
Leith Market (every Saturday, Dock Place, from 10am-5pm)
Sitting beside the Shore, Leith’s weekly market hosts predominantly food stalls as well as a few local makers.
Stockbridge Market (every Sunday, Saunders Street, from 10am-5pm)
Stockbridge is one of Edinburgh’s busiest markets selling a range of street food and lifestyle products.
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (every Saturday, Castle Terrace, from 9am-2pm)
Drop by Edinburgh Farmers’ Market to browse seasonal produce such as fruit, vegetables, locally sourced game, and more.
The Pitt Street Food Market (every Friday-Sunday, Pitt Street, various times)
This hugely popular street food market hosts a range of street food traders with live music.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND POP-UPS
A plethora of talented artists and makers call Edinburgh home. So, if you’re looking for a unique present for a loved one that also supports one of these local artists, visiting a Christmas market or fair is a good option. Thankfully, there are so many to choose from, here are just a few to look out for:
Abbeymount Makers Market (4th December, Abbeymount Studios, Free)
The Abbeymount Makers Market takes place on the first Saturday of each month (11am-5pm) and showcases work from the talented resident artists, designers and makers.
Christmas on Castle Street (until 23rd December, Castle Street, Free)
Castle Street is hosting a Christmas Fair with a range of independent makers and designers who will showcase their beautiful handcrafted products.
Ocean Terminal Christmas Market (2nd-19th December on Thursday to Sunday, free)
Ocean Terminal Christmas Market is predominantly a maker’s market so it’s the ideal place to pick up quality handcrafted gifts and enjoy delicious food and drinks.
Out of the Blue Christmas Arts Market (4th & 11th December, Out of the Blue, £2)
Out of the Blue Drill Hall is a hub for creativity and artists so where better to visit for beautiful gift inspiration. Over the two days, more than 100 artists will be exhibiting and selling their work!
Glow – Scottish Design Fair (4th-5th December, Dovecot Studios, £3)
Celebrating the best in local design, this is the perfect opportunity to support local makers, take part in a creative workshop, and pick up festive gifts.
Assembly Rooms Christmas Fair (4th-5th December, Assembly Rooms, £4)
3d2d’s popular annual Christmas Fair is back! Enjoy browsing the stalls of 120 of Britain’ finest artists, designers and makers under the Assembly Rooms’ stunning chandeliers and period features.
Summerhall’s Christmas Market (5th December, Summerhall, Free)
Summerhall has hand-picked 50 of their favourite independent Scottish sellers and makers for their Christmas market. Pop along to Summerhall on the 5th or shop from the comfort of your home with their virtual market.
Dovecot Christmas Shopping Evening (9th December, Dovecot Studios, Donation)
Dovecot Studios is staying open late for a very special after-hours shopping event. Enjoy a glass of prosecco and a mince pie while you browse their beautifully curated shop.
Hopetoun House Christmas Shopping Fair (10th-12th December, Hopetoun House, from £8)
Visit Hopetoun House for a luxurious shopping experience. There will be over 60 exhibitors offering a wide range of artisan and unique gifts for Christmas. The Stables Café will also be open for refreshments.
Support The Makers Christmas Market (19th December, The Old Dr Bells Baths, £1)
If you find yourself approaching Christmas with still a few gifts to buy, pop along to Old Dr Bells Baths to browse a beautiful selection of locally curated handmade products.
Bruntsfield Christmas Night (1st December, Eric Liddell Centre at 6pm)
Head along to Bruntsfield on the 1st for their Christmas light switch on, Santa’s Grotto, discounts at stores, a fun treasure hunt plus mulled wine and nibbles!
Cloud 9 Edinburgh: Late Night Shopping Event (2nd December, open till 8pm, Cloud 9)
Cloud 9 is hosting a late-night shopping event with 10% off, refreshments and nibbles! There will be several late-night shopping events across Edinburgh so keep your eyes peeled.
Broughton Street Christmas Shopping Event (3rd December, Various Locations)
Broughton Street, a haven for independent shopping, will be celebrating the season with a late-night shopping event!
Tartan Blanket: Christmas Pop-Up (3rd & 4th December, Tartan Blanket Studio
The Tartan Blanket shop is having a sample sale with discounted prices plus the opportunity to browse their latest collection.
Coburg House Open Studios (4th–5th December, Coburg House)
Coburg House Open Studios invite you behind the scenes of their studio doors for a Winter Open Studios Event for a chance to get your hands on unique Christmas presents.
Last, but not least, there are always businesses opening their doors for the first time in Edinburgh. Here are a few which have opened in November and will be opening in December. Why not pop along and welcome them!