Throughout November, we’ve been filled with quiet anticipation in the run-up to December. It’s when the nostalgic memories of Christmas traditions and fuzzy feelings contagiously fill the air throughout the city when acts of kindness and giving back become cool again, and when putting a smile on your loved one’s face is prioritised once more.
Christmastime reminds us of the things that truly matter: quality time with family and friends. And in this list, that is precisely what we will do: show you the best things to do in Edinburgh for true quality time this Christmas, whether with loved ones or flying solo.
Of course, the Edinburgh Christmas market has to be the first on the list. This year, Edinburgh Christmas is on from November 17, 2023, until January 6, 2024 in the traditional locations on Princes Street, West Princes Street Gardens, St Andrew Square and George Street. During the five weeks of festive joy, market-goers can expect to see all of Edinburgh Christmas’s beloved favourites, including Edinburgh’s Christmas Ferris Wheel, the cheerful Christmas Markets, a covered Ice Rink in George Square and Family Funfair. A Santa Experience at St Andrew Square has also been spotted and a brand new programme of free festive events and activities on the Ross Bandstand.
The most festive experience at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh transports trail goers into another fairy-tale-like world, sparking that feeling of hopeful wonder in everyone who enters. Christmas at the Botanics is back again, and this time, hosting all-time festive favourites like the tunnel of sparkling lights, the colourful projection onto the front of Inverleith House and the captivating Christmas Cathedral amongst other brand-new installations. The one-mile trail is running between November 16 and December 30, taking guests on a wonderful journey filled with festive cheer. This is the perfect experience for some bonding time with family and friends, as well as a great wee day out for some well-deserved festive me-time.
3. Grab perfectly-crafted cocktails at The Register Club
Built-in the 19th Century as a hotel and then a functioning bank, the building of Cheval The Edinburgh Grand has truly transformed throughout history. Now a place for luxury apartments, home to The Register Club, a truly splendid cocktail bar and the wine café Lady Libertine, The Edinburgh Grand is a destination in itself. Pop into the majestic, flawlessly decorated lobby to check out the beauty of the building, and make your way up to the top floor via the lifts where you will find The Register Club. There, find yourself taking in the beauty of the building while indulging in one of their signature cocktails or afternoon tea: what better way for festive quality time with that special someone.
While the Candlelight concerts are famous for their classical music takes on modern songs, movie lovers will be happy to hear of this welcome new addition to the Christmas series. Guests will be able to hum to their favourite Christmas film tunes that will be cheerily performed by a string quartet at the iconic Nicholson Square on December 16 and 21. The performance will include Christmas classics such as Winter Wonderland, Have Yourself a Merry Little Xmas, Let It Snow and more. You can book your tickets here.
New York’s Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning production ‘Wicked’ will be coming to Edinburgh Playhouse from December 7 until Saturday, January 14, 2024. The musical is based on the Gregory Maguire novel, imagining a beguiling backstory and future possibilities in the lives of L. Frank Baum’s famous characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reveal the decisions and events that shape the destinies of two unlikely university friends on their journey to becoming Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
6. Go on a festive silent disco adventure
Calling it ‘sight singing’, Edinburgh’s beloved Silent Adventures are ready for the festive season with its uber Christmassy silent disco programme, promising visitors and locals alike to uncover moves they never knew they had. I mean, no one can argue that when it comes to Christmas, Edinburgh has no competition, so singing and dancing along the Christmassy streets of the Scottish capital sounds like our kind of party. The 60-minute tour starts at The Piper’s Rest on Hurter Square, where you can later claim 10% off food and drink with your Silent Adventure ticket. You can book your tickets here.
7. Grab a bevvy at this heated rooftop beer garden with a view
We all love Cold Town House for its amazing rooftop vibes and live music, so this Christmas season it is one of the musts of things to do in Edinburgh. The heated rooftop boasts stunning views of Edinburgh Castle as well as good vibes and is always packed. For this reason, we’d advise you to book in advance as this season is set to be extra busy. Plus, their Neapolitan pizza is to die for and their very own Cold Town House beer is worth raving about.
While King’s Theatre is closed for two years for a significant refurb, Festival Theatre is taking on one of Edinburgh’s most famous panto shows this season. From November 25 until December 31, The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan will be marvellously delighting Edinburgh’s audiences this Christmas season. The lavishly extravagant production from the London Palladium is expected to be packed full of music, magic and joy for the whole family. The cast is also delightful, starring Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young.
9. Get some Spanish scran at this adorable tapas bar
Okay, so this is not the most traditional thing to do at Christmas, but Piggs on Cannongate is the perfect place for romantic quality time, and just has the cutest décor and we are obsessed. The small tapas bar offers a superb list of wines and beers, as well as a wide range of tapas, sandwiches, sharing platters and Spanish desserts. As a family run business, the spot only has six tables, so it’s best to book in advance. Once you’re there, opt for a glass of All BLanc (Verdejo and Sauv Blanc) from Rueda, and make your way down the tapas menu. We love the pulpo, patatas bravas and, obviously, croquetas.