Aberdeen's Winter Festival

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Overlooking the Edinburgh skyline during the winter festival celebrations
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  • Two female revellers celebrate Hogmanay in Aberdeen
    Revellers celebrate Hogmanay in Aberdeen
  • Hogmanay fireworks launched from the roof of His Majesty's Theatre
    His Majesty's Theatre at Hogmanay
  • Christmas lights and decorations suspended above Union Street
    Union Street during the festive season

Visit Aberdeen over Christmas and New Year and experience the seasonal delights of the Granite City’s annual Winter Festival.

Winter festivities

The Winter Festival kicks off in November with Aberdeen’s Fireworks Night on 5 November. Watch this dazzling pyrotechnic display as brightly coloured lights shoot and crackle across an inky black sky, accompanied by a sweeping musical score.

The festivities continue on 26 November with the Christmas Tree Switch On where each year the Lord Provost and a special guest light up a beautiful spruce, gifted to the city by its twin town of Stavanger in Norway.

Another of the city’s seasonal highlights is the Christmas Lights Switch On Parade on 29 November which transforms Aberdeen’s city centre into a magical winter wonderland, illuminated with glittering lights and decorations. Follow a parade of brass and pipe bands, festive characters and floats, all led down Union Street by the Lord Provost, and cheer as one by one the lights are turned on.

Help welcome Father Christmas to Aberdeen at the city’s eagerly anticipated Santa and Reindeer Parade. On 29 November, you can follow Santa as he sets off on a tour of the city centre in his sleigh. He and his trusty reindeer will make their way along Castlegate to the Trinity Shopping Centre, where children get the chance to greet the jolly man himself.

Sparkling entertainment 

What better way to get into the festive spirit than with a pantomime? Enjoy this favourite Christmas tradition and catch Jack and the Beanstalk at the Aberdeen Arts Centre or Peter Pan at the His Majesty’s Theatre.

Soak up some culture and enjoy some spellbinding performances. At the Music Hall, catch the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performing the music of the family favourite Christmas animated film The Snowman, or get tickets to see Scottish Ballet bring the classic production of Cinderella to life at His Majesty’s Theatre in January.

Sing along to carols to the accompaniment of music performed by the talented Bon Accord Silver Band at a Christmas Carol Concert held in the David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Wander around this expansive indoor garden and take in the rare and exotic plants while listening to your favourite carols.

New Year celebrations

Join the city in celebrating the beginning of 2016 with a spectacular fireworks display fired from the rooftop of His Majesty’s Theatre. Dance the night away at the Hogmanay Ceilidh held in the Beach Ballroom or enjoy a superb blend of traditional Scottish music and song at the Aberdeen Music Hall’s ever popular Hogmanay Concert.


Whether you’re looking for stocking fillers or hunting for bargains in the January sales, Aberdeen makes a fabulous winter shopping destination. Take advantage of special weekend festival rates and extended opening hours and hit the city’s excellent shopping centres such as Union Square, the Trinity Centre, the Bon Accord & St Nicholas Centre and the Academy.

On Saturdays throughout December, enjoy the bustling market buzz of Little Belmont Street at the Aberdeen Country Fair, where you can pick up local produce and hand-crafted gifts.

Alongside the major high street retailers, you’ll find plenty of unique boutiques and independent shops in the city’s elegant West End district and lively Merchant Quarter. Enjoy a drink or meal in one of the quarter’s plentiful bars and restaurants before soaking up the festive atmosphere inside its clubs and live music venues.

Getting around

Aberdeen’s excellent public transport links, including a park and ride bus service, allow eager shoppers to escape the traffic and enjoy a stress-free shopping trip around its bustling centre. There are also six late night bus services and a number of reputable taxi firms which make it a fantastic choice for a safe and memorable Christmas night out.

With a packed programme of exciting events, entertainment, fantastic shopping and nightlife, Aberdeen’s Winter Festival makes this fantastic city the perfect place to stay and play during the festive season. 

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