Inverness’ winter festivities begin with the Christmas Lights Switch On on 23 November, when you can join Santa and the Lord Provost to see the illuminations at Inverness Town House before attending the family carol service at the Old High Church.
Families can get into the festive spirit at the Winter Wonderland at Whin Park from 12 – 14 December, where Santa and his reindeers will be amongst the beautifully lit trees and fairground rides. Look out for the ice king and queen too!
Eden Court Theatre is hosting a fantastic range of performances in the run up to Christmas. Join in the festive fun with the theatre's annual pantomime, Aladdin, from 2 December – 4 January, or treat yourself to mince pies, mulled wine and 50s hits with Holly at Christmas, a tribute to the music of Buddy Holly, from 11 – 13 December.
At Hogmanay the city will host its popular Red Hot Highland Fling celebration, Scotland’s biggest free Hogmanay party. Dance your way into the New Year with Scottish music from The Red Hot Chilli Pipers plus special guests Mànran and Julie Fowlis and host Craig Hill.
Those with children (or who simply want an early night!) can also the Wee Hot Highland Fling, where families can celebrate with street performers and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere on Inverness High Street from midday.
There will be more to enjoy in 2015, with the Scottish Ballet performing their magical rendition of The Nutcracker at Eden Court Theatre from 21 – 25 January and suppers and ceilidhs taking place for Burns Night events on 25 January.
Inverness’ city centre is ideal for stocking up for Christmas thanks to its great travel links, compact main streets and central shopping centre, the Eastgate Centre, which houses more than 60 stores and cafés.
Explore the charming Victorian Market to find some unique present options, or stop and browse at Leakey’s second-hand bookshop. The shop, in a converted church, is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in Scotland, making it the ideal place to pick up a few treasures for your book-loving relatives.
You’ll be able to find this season’s must-have gifts and stylish party outfits at the Inverness Retail Park, while Eden Court Theatre hosts a Christmas Craft Fair from 15 November – 5 December featuring jewellery, hand-designed knitwear, pottery, glassware and many more gifts from over 60 sellers.
Things to do
Why not get into the festive spirit by combining your shopping trip in Inverness with a city break? A morning’s shopping could be followed by a crisp winter walk along the River Ness and Ness Islands, or even a climb up to the top of Craig Phadraig to see great views over the city and surrounding countryside.
There are many historical sites to visit within easy reach of the city, including Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre, Cawdor Castle and Urquhart Castle. To the east of Inverness you can visit the stoical Fort George to learn about Scotland’s defence in times gone by and, if you’re lucky, might spot some of the dolphins on the Moray Firth!