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7 Christmas break ideas in Scotland’s seven cities

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. And here is why:


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 2019… at the one and only Edinburgh’s Hogmanay! This year, Franz Ferdinand will headline the concert 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. Please note the chapel is closed 24 – 25 December and from 30 December – 1 January. 


Glasgow at Christmas time

Over in Glasgow, the fun never stops at Glasgow Loves Christmas. This year’s festivities include the fabulous Style Mile Carnival (25 November), the epic 5K Santa Dash (9 December), and markets at St Enoch Square (9 November – 23 December) and George Square (25 November – 31 December).

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.

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 performances of Elf The Musical (21 – 24 November) on the 2018 programme. 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 Illicit Still 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!

Stay indoors… with a visit to the brand new 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 will crop up across the city  making winter a simply wonderful season to make a trip to the ‘Fair City’. It all kicks off on 17 November with the Christmas Light Switch On.

Stocking fillers… can be found at Perth’s Chocolate & Gin Street Festival on 17 November, which will feature a huge variety of producers, gin tastings and chocolate workshops. The Highland Chocolatier in 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.


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 this winter, you’ll be sure to find perfect pressies for everyone.

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, Stirling’s backdrop is a wonderful place to embrace the city’s winter festival programme.

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!

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