Smell the air, it's crisp and fresh. In the city, the lights of the Christmas markets sparkle like diamonds, drawing happy shoppers in. In the country, hotels and pubs are lighting the fires and closing the curtains to create a warm, homely welcome for weary travellers. While the whole country is preparing food, drink and entertainment for the biggest party of the year - Hogmanay, when Scotland says hello to the new year. You'll find that Christmas is a truly magical time to visit us. 

The lights of the bustling stalls shine like jewels. You catch the aroma of warm mulled wine drifting through the chill night air. Laughter echoes from the ice rink. For a magical atmosphere, you can't beat a Christmas market. There are major European-style markets in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with bars, food stalls, rides, shows and events. Perth, Aberdeen and many other towns throughout the country have similar winter festivities.

Hogmanay is Scotland's new year celebration - and it's so boisterous that the whole country takes two days off! Every town and city will have its own Hogmanay celebration, usually with ceilidh-dancing, fine food, a splash or three of whisky and fireworks. Edinburgh's new year fireworks are one of the biggest displays in the world. Some villages, such as Comrie and Stonehaven have spectacular fire festivals.