Fun Things to Do in Scotland in December

Looking for the perfect way to end 2023 on a high? Then it’s time to get planning your festive break in Scotland! Scotland in December is as beautiful a month as any, with its own subtle charms, and year-topping highlights you won’t forget. There’s festive atmosphere galore, perfect cosy retreats and bright winter days. Scotland guarantees you a fabulous festive season!

  1. Christmas Markets and Festivals Across Scotland

    Edinburgh's Christmas Market from the Scott Monument

    Think of twinkling lights all around, with the smell of your favourite winter food & drinks wafting in the air and get into the festive spirit.

    Edinburgh’s Christmas – located in Princes Street Gardens, enjoy the numerous fairground rides, carnival atmosphere and stalls.

    Castle of Light – Magic and Mystery – see Edinburgh Castle light in all its glory for a mesmerising light show experience.

    Glasgow WinterFest - browse the festive stalls, relax with your favourite beverage at the festive bars or get ready to party at the silent disco.

    Beecraigs Festive Forest – head to Beecraigs Country Park near Linlithgow to enjoy an atmospheric light show complete with lasers, illuminated trails, santa’s grotto and plenty of treats.

    Aberdeen Winter Festival and Christmas Village – enjoy an outdoor ice rink, festive fairground and scrumptious food and drink.

    Perth Winter Festival – this year sees street performers and magicians to santa runs and silent discos.

    Glamis Castle Christmas Market – take a trip to this famous attraction for family fun, Santa’s Grotto, festive gifts, and tasty treats.

  2. Find a festive place to stay for Christmas Across Scotland

    A family enjoy a snowball fight at Castle Fraser.

    Surely one of the best things to do in Scotland in December must be to stay in a magical castle? Many castles offer Christmas packages, for a special holiday you won’t forget! There are plenty of castles across Scotland to choose from, but here are a few to spark your imagination:

    Find your fairytale castle for a Christmas stay

    We can’t think of anything better than ‘cooring’ up in front of a burning log fire on a cold winters’ day whilst the snow falls outside. Scotland doesn’t disappoint when it comes to rustic cottages and cosy log cabins, some even have hot tubs, jacuzzis or sauna to enjoy too. They are perfect for a winter retreat for two, or invite family and friends and make a bigger celebration of it, you’ve got plenty of choices.

  3. IRN-BRU Carnival Glasgow

    It’s a great thing to do in Glasgow in December and the perfect way to get out of the cold on a winter day without sacrificing fun and action. The carnival has it all – from children’s fairground rides, games, stalls and prizes to an inflatable play area, giant slide and delicious food. This carnival is set to be fantastic fun for both the little and the big kids among us!

  4. Curl up and watch a Christmas Rom-Com Across Scotland

    A view across Loch Lomond with snow capped hills in the background.

    Sometimes all you want to do is stay in and watch a movie! There are some fantastic new romantic comedies on Netflix set and filmed in Scotland; the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploring. Here are just a few:

    • The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star was filmed at Hopetoun House in West Lothian, and Newbattle Abbey College in Midlothian. You’ll also see Gosford House, Borthwick Castle, Dundas Castle, Dakota Hotel, Barnbougle and Dalmeny Estate, as well as the Royal Highland Centre.
    • Falling for Figaro, which stars Joanna Lumley as a former opera diva-turned singing teacher, was filmed in Glencoe and Luss, on the west bank of Loch Lomond, and Glasgow.
    • A Castle for Christmas, which stars Brooke Shields as a novelist and Cary Elwes as a Scottish duke, was filmed at Dalmeny House near Edinburgh, Tantallon Castle in East Lothian, Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry and Edinburgh Airport.
  5. Christmas at the Botanics Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

    Christmas at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

    Christmas at the Botanics (21 November – 30 December) is a must-see! One of the top things to do in Edinburgh in December, wander round the capital’s 70 acres of majestic gardens in the dark, magically lit up with light features such as the Tunnel of Light, Laser Garden, Festive Flotilla of glowing boats and Scented Fire Garden. There’s music, mulled wine, hot chocolate, festive foods and fire-pits to gather round. You’re guaranteed to get some insta-worthy shots on your way round. We highly recommend it!

  6. Husky Sled Rides Highlands

    Bowland Trails Husky Dog Sled Rides in Blairgowrie, Perthshire

    What better and more memorable way to enjoy Scotland’s beautiful outdoors in the winter than a husky sledge ride! Scotland has a number of husky centres where you can meet the dogs and go for a sledge ride, or even have a full-day experience with professional racers where you help to train the dogs. Snow is also not essential for a ride!

  7. Visit Santa and his Reindeer Cairngorms National Park

    Reindeer in the Cairngorms National Park

    Head to the Cairngorms National Park to meet Santa and his reindeer! The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is home to around 150 free-ranging reindeer, and is the best spot to meet these friendly characters in their natural habitat. Surrounded by tinsel and decorations, Santa will be there keeping an eye on his reindeer and there are crafting activities you can try, too. You could also head to the nearby Highland Wildlife Park, where you’ll see polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, snow leopards and many more.

  8. Enjoy World Class Snowsports Various locations

    Skiing at the Cairngorm Mountain

    Get out to the hills for some snowsports action! Did you know Scotland offers the best outdoor skiing and snowboarding in the UK? Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the country’s ski centres are accessible from all of Scotland’s cities and offer great runs for beginners and seasoned skiers or boarders alike. There are five resorts in Scotland to choose from – all of which offer skiing or snowboarding equipment hire, slopes suitable for beginners and lessons. The season in Scotland runs from December to April, although do check the conditions before you travel.

  9. Immerse yourself in unforgettable Hogmanay Celebrations Across Scotland

    Up Helly Aa Vikings during the Torchlight Procession, Edinburgh

    Hogmanay street celebrations in Scotland are legendary!

    • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – soak in the atmosphere at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party on New Year’s Eve, with live music from well-known stars, outdoor bars and spectacular fireworks at midnight.
    • The Hogmanay Hoolie – at Edinburgh’s iconic Ghillie Dhu, famous for its ceilidhs in this stunning converted church.
    • Beach Ballroom Hogmanay Ceilidh – in Aberdeen you can dance the night away at the brilliant Beach Ballroom ceilidh.
    • Oban Hogmanay Party – an annual celebration where you can enjoy a lively night of ceilidh music.

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