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Best Christmas Places in Scotland’s eight cities

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Calton Hill, Edinburgh

In all of Scotland’s cities, the jingle of sleigh bells and the aroma of mulled wine wafting through the air is enough to put any Scrooge in the mood for Christmas. It might be cold outside, but Christmas city breaks in Scotland are simply magical.

Keep reading to find out more about the best places to visit in Scotland at Christmas.


Edinburgh's Christmas markets © George Clerk

Edinburgh’s Christmas markets © George Clerk

From November to January, fall under the Yuletide spell at Edinburgh’s Christmas. Just imagine: fairy lights twinkling in the trees; bustling markets selling all kinds of festive goodies; and warm drinks and delicacies from across Europe.

Bring in the new year… at the one and only Edinburgh’s Hogmanay! Enjoy concert performances and musicians in Princes Street Gardens – be quick, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town.

Go explore… the village of Roslin and the incredible 15th century Rosslyn Chapel. Take a stroll around the amazing chapel* and glen, both can be reached by the 37 Lothian Bus service from the city centre. There are plenty more things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas, so get exploring.

*Please note the chapel is closed 24 – 25 December and 1 January.


Glasgow at Christmas time © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

During Glasgow’s Christmas the fun never stops! Enjoy festivities such as the fabulous Style Mile Carnival, the epic 5K Santa Dash and The Christmas Fair at St Enoch Square.

Get into the festive spirit… at some of Glasgow’s lively pubs. Listen to fiddle tunes with live folk sessions beside the roaring fireplace in the Babbity Bowster or stay warm on a chilly winter’s night inside Stravaigin, which serves up some delicious Scottish food. Or why not wander around a festive Glasgow Christmas market? Grab last minute gifts, tuck into some delicious food and drink, and admire Glasgow’s Christmas lights twinkling above.

Go explore … the breathtaking winter landscapes of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. From Balloch (a short drive, bus or train journey from Glasgow), climb up Conic Hill and enjoy gorgeous views across the water.


Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen

Up in Aberdeen, the granite buildings sparkle and song fills the north easterly air during Aberdeen’s Winter Festival with carol concerts, foodie markets and special festive performances. Wrap up warm and head to the Christmas Village for some merriment.

Warm up… with a dram of single malt. Try one of the ‘Secret Malts of Aberdeenshire’ at one of the city centre’s whisky bars, such as The Grill or CASC (which stands for Cigars, Ale, Scotch, Coffee).

Go explore … the Cairngorms National Park. If winter conditions are favourable, you might get the chance to ski or snowboard at The Lecht, one of Scotland’s five snow resorts. If not, take a scenic drive along the Snow Roads route which passes through the charming towns of Braemar, Tomintoul and Ballater in the eastern Cairngorms.


Christmas market at Slessor Gardens, by Dundee’s waterfront

Ah, Dundee – a cool, creative and cultural city which is always up for making Christmas memories with you! A city known for inventing marmalade, The Beano and Grand Theft Auto – see if you’ll have a bright idea this Christmas! Head to the city and Dundee’s Christmas markets where you can browse stalls and food stands. Or start of the festivities with admiring the Dundee Christmas lights switch on.

Stay indoors… with a visit to the V&A Dundee or enjoy a live show once darkness settles at the Rep Theatre.

Go explore… the history of the surrounding Angus. Arbroath Abbey is famously associated with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, which asserted Scotland’s independence from England. It’s a short drive or approximately 20 minutes on the train to Arbroath station from Dundee.


Chocolates at the Legends of Grandtully, Perthshire

If there’s ever a time and a place to indulge, it’s Christmas time in Perth. Winter festivities crop up across the city, making winter a simply wonderful season to make a trip to the ‘Fair City’. It all kicks off in November with the Christmas Light Switch On. Make sure you stop by Perth’s Christmas market to pick up a trinket or two, or some last minute gifts.

Stocking fillers… can be found at the Blair Castle Art, Food & Craft Fair (4 – 6 November) which will feature a variety of market stalls where you can pick up a few Christmas gifts, or treat yourself! The Highland Chocolatier in the village of Grandtully southwest of Pitlochry is a must-visit stop for fans of the cocoa bean.

Go explore… Perthshire’s amazing winter vantage points. There’s so many forest trails to choose from. Try easy strolls at The Hermitage, Loch Rannoch, Birks of Aberfeldy and the Queen’s View at Pitlochry. These are also great choices if you need things to do on Christmas Day in Perth too.


Inverness Cathedral © Colin Keldie

The Highland capital’s beautiful architecture looks particularly magnificent in the low winter light, and with plenty of festive frolics and fantastic shopping events during Inverness’ Christmas, you’ll be sure to find perfect pressies for everyone. A great place to find a unique gift or two is Inverness’ Christmas markets.

Tuck into a festive feast… at one of Inverness’ top restaurants. Try the innovative menus at the Mustard Seed or have a hearty roast dinner at the Dores Inn on Loch Ness.

Go explore…the north of Scotland in search of the Northern Lights. The magical Aurora Borealis can sometimes be seen during the darker months. Keep an eye on the Aurora forecast or simply admire the twinkly stars across the black skies in great stargazing spots like Moray Speyside.


Wallace Monument, Stirling

With a mighty castle overlooking cobbled streets, and the magnificent Wallace Monument looming in the distance, the city’s backdrop is a wonderful place to embrace the city’s winter festival programme and experience Christmas events in Stirling. Make sure you leave time to stop by Stirling Christmas markets to pick up some delicious food and drink to complete your Christmas Day feast.

Go on a winter wander… and admire age-old landmarks in the city centre, or venture into the surrounding countryside and take in the breathtaking views from the top of Dumyat Hill.

Go explore… The Kelpies at Falkirk. These magnificent equine statues, designed by Andy Scott, magically light up at night. Or, stay indoors at the nearby Sky High Trampolining Park and jump around for joy – Christmas is coming!


A sunlit Dunfermline Abbey, the resting place of some of Scotland’s most legendary monarchs

Awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee , the fife town of Dunfermline – formerly Scotland’s ancient capital, has become Scotland’s eighth city. Home to one of the best preserved medieval cityscapes in the country and a rich regal history, this compact city nestled amongst Fife’s gently rolling countryside is a joy to explore over the festive season.

Go on a winter wander… follow the cobbled streets of historic districts like the Kirkgate with their gorgeous period buildings festooned with twinkling lights, or enjoying some Christmas shopping in an eclectic array of independent shops and businesses. If you want a natural escape, head to the sprawling Pittencrieff Park. If it gets too chilly, you can always go inside its famous glasshouses which contain a marvellous array of exotic flora.

Go explore… Stop by the Kingsgate Market to pick up stocking fillers and tasty treats, and take in the magnificent edifice of Dunfermline Abbey and Palace. You an even attend a Christmas service, carol service or concert in the Abbey Church of Dunfermline. Or why not take yourself and the kids to this year’s pantomime at the Alhambra Theatre, Beauty and the Beast?

Find out more about Scotland’s Christmas & Winter Festivals or start making plans for unforgettable Christmas holidays or Hogmanay breaks in Scotland.