How can it possibly be less than two weeks until Christmas?! It seems like just yesterday I was wondering if mid-November was too early to start putting up my decorations (the answer was yes, by the way). But there’s still plenty of time to make the most of the festive season, and lots of things to see and do in Edinburgh this Christmas.
Christmas Cocktail & Street Food Festival
Taking over the old Edinburgh Tattoo office on Market Street (where I used to have a summer job, many moons ago!), the Christmas Cocktail & Street Food Festival is one of the best food and drink pop-ups happening in Edinburgh this festive season. On the ground floor you’ll find the street food court and a stage for live music, and upstairs there are six different cocktail bars to explore. It’s a great alternative if you fancy something a little bit more independent and unique than the Christmas market on Princes Street.
Feed Edinburgh are doing their signature chicken wings (yasss my favourite), and there’s lots of other street food to choose from including amazing confit duck brioche rolls. As for the cocktails, I’d recommend heading to the Edinburgh Gin and Chambord bar for a wee festive tipple.
34 Market Street, EH1 1QB, open until 2nd January 2018, more info here.
Ice Adventure & Shackleton’s Ice Bar
A new addition to Edinburgh’s Christmas this year is the Ice Adventure. As you enter, you’re greeted with -10°C temperatures and a whole host of impressive ice sculptures. There are unicorns and kelpies and stags and Vikings, and even an ice throne you can perch on.
Once you reach the end of the Ice Adventure, you’ll find Shackleton’s Ice Bar. Warm up with a Shackleton’s hot toddy, made with The Shackleton Whisky, cloudy apple juice and winter spices. The whisky itself has a really interesting story. Famous explorer, Ernest Shackleton, took 25 cases of ‘Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky’ on his Antarctic expedition in 1907, and eleven bottles were left behind, preserved beneath the base camp hut. When they were discovered recently, world renowned Master Blender, Richard Paterson, carried out painstaking analysis to re-create the antique whisky, and has used this as the foundation to create Shackleton – a new premium Scotch whisky that embodies the legendary explorer’s spirit.
George Street, EH2 4JN, open until 24th December 2017, more info here.
Christmas Shopping at Independent Shops
Edinburgh has lots of amazing independent shops, and I like to support them as much as I can – especially when it comes to Christmas shopping. You’ll find completely unique gifts that your friends and family are sure to appreciate much more than a generic present from the high street. I’ve talked about 5 of my favourite independent shops in Edinburgh before, and there are lots more to check out in my ultimate independent shopping guide on Every Edinburgh.
If you’re in the West End this Thursday 14th, Edinburgh’s West End are holding a special Christmas Late event to help you get your Christmas shopping done. Lots of the independent businesses in the area will be offering discounts, complimentary fizz, mulled wine or mince pies, gift wrapping, competitions and lots more. To spread some festive cheer, gospel choir and brass band, The Phoenix Choir and Brass Gumbo, will be playing Christmas tunes as you shop.
West End, EH3 7LG, open on 14 December 2017, more info here.
Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo
It wouldn’t be Christmas without some festive lights, and Edinburgh Zoo have taken it to the next level with the Giant Lanterns of China. Head to the zoo after hours for a magical trail throughout grounds, with over 450 lanterns to light the way. You’ll find illuminated versions of lots of the zoo’s animals (including giant pandas, of course!) as well as traditional Chinese designs. At the centre is a 118 foot long Chinese dragon.
As well as the lanterns, you can also enjoy performances from Chinese entertainers and acrobats, tuck into street food and wintery drinks, and visit the Christmas marketplace full of handmade crafts and gifts from Chinese artisans.
134 Corstorphine Road, EH12 6TS, open until 25 February 2018, more info here.
Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Going to the ballet has been a bit of a festive tradition for me in recent years, and this Christmas Scottish Ballet are back with a glittering performance of The Nutcracker. I saw it a couple of years ago and it was such a beautiful ballet, and so festive too. It’s an ideal alternative if you fancy something a little more grown up than a pantomime.
From dancing snowflakes to toy soldiers and, of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy, this classic fairy tale is instantly recognisable. Scottish Ballet will be performing at the Festival Theatre throughout December, and they’ll also be touring the production in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle after New Year.
13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT, open until 30 December 2017, more info here.
Christmas at The Botanics
Another after-hours event to check out is Christmas at The Botanics. The Botanic Gardens will be lit up with beautiful lights throughout December, perfect for a festive evening out. The trees and glasshouses are illuminated on a one-mile trail through the gardens.
The theme is “botanical winter wonderland”, inspired by the garden itself. Once you’ve seen all the sparkling sights, enjoy a mulled cider or hot chocolate, along with roasted chestnuts. Don’t forget to toast a marshmallow over the fire!
Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ, open until 30 December 2017, more info here.
Hobo Cinema at The Biscuit Factory
I’ll be back at home in Aberdeenshire by the 22nd, but if I wasn’t, I would definitely be heading along to Hobo Cinema. Events company, Rogue Village, are transforming The Biscuit Factory into a winter woodland pop-up cinema. Bringing the outside in, there will be foliage and floral decorations from Pyrus Botanicals, sweet treats from Sugar Daddy’s Bakery, and plenty of festive drinks at the bar.
They’ll be showing a variety of films throughout the day (including Home Alone, Elf and Die Hard), followed by a post-show party where you can dance the night away in the woodland wonderland with festive cocktails and ’80s music.
4-6 Anderson Place, EH6 5NP, open 22nd & 23rd December 2017, more info here.