December is here, and it’s officially acceptable to put up your Christmas tree. With the Christmas markets staying for the month and the city fully livening up just in time for Christmas, there are plenty of exciting events happening around the Scottish capital. So, hold onto your mulled wines, because we’ve gathered a sensational list of terrific things to do in Edinburgh this December.
1. Visit a brand new bowling alley with beer pong, karaoke booths and curling
A truly exciting arrival for Edinburgh, Roxy Lanes has opened its doors on Rose Street on November 18. The lively venue offers bowling, batting cages, beer pong, ice-free curling and karaoke booths, to name a few, so be prepared for a day out like no other. On top of an impressive list of activities, Roxy Lanes offers a range of signature cocktails, pizza, nibbles and ‘Roxy dogs’. And the cocktail menu sounds just as good, on top of the two for £6 shots, it could turn out to be one of those unexpected wild ones. Get yourself in for some adventurous activities during December, as it’s the perfect way to spend the darkest nights of the year.
2. Enjoy a nostalgic Candlelight Christmas special
This festive season, get merry and immerse yourself in the holiday feels by enjoying seasonal music meticulously performed under twinkling candlelight. A special performance of our favourite Christmas movie soundtracks like Home Alone and Love Actually will be the theme of the concert, where a string quartet will give the famous tunes an exceptional remake. The experience will take place at The Caves on December 21, which is the sub-structure of South Bridge and offers an unexpected look into 18th Century Edinburgh. For example, one of the vaults within was used to be known as Whiskey Row, as it was fully packed with whiskey. Lost for over a 100 years, The Caves have been rediscovered, and now you can watch a heart-warming Candlelight Christmas Concert in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can book your tickets here.
3. Give Christmas At The Botanics light trail a visit
Christmas at the Botanics is back for another year, and this time, hosting an Edinburgh premier of global artist Jig Cochrane, founder of Jigantics amongst other internationally well-known artists. The one-mile trail is running between November 17 and December 30, taking guests on a magical journey filled with festive joy and childhood wonder. Christmas at the Botanics has attracted around 90,000 visitors last year, and the trail will certainly remain a hit this year. However, it is open on selected days, so be sure to book well in advance as usual.
4. Play your favourite retro games and sip on cocktails at this nostalgic arcade game bar
The good old days have been brought back to NQ64 Edinburgh, an arcade game bar with all the nostalgic feels and more: from classic arcade games to old-school consoles, the neon-lit spot is a true treat. Located on Lothian Road near Usher Hall, NQ64 Edinburgh takes visitors back in time with its time capsule-like bar concept. The space is dotted with arcade games throughout and even has a separate wee room for Guitar Hero. Moreover, one of the best parts of NQ64 is that you can sip on creative, game-themed cocktails while bashing those buttons in a competitive strike with your mate. You don’t need to book, just turn up, buy some tokens and you’re good to go, however, they are also taking Christmas booking for the time being.
5. Have afternoon tea with a Great British Bake-Off winner in the coastal village of Gullane
Great British Bake-Off fans, rejoice! This December, guests are invited to The Bonnie Badger in the coastal village of Gullane to start their countdown to Christmas with some lively festive events at the award-winning venue. The highlight of the series of the festive events is the arrival of the Great British Bake-Off winner and baking aficionado, Peter Sawkins, who will host a special Festive Afternoon Tea on December 9. The indulgent experience will celebrate his second book, Peter’s Baking Party, where Sawkins will introduce some exciting recipes for guests to enjoy at home. Visitors will join Peter for a relaxed afternoon tea to celebrate his baking success and hear about the inspiration behind his new book as he shares stories, alongside helpful hints to inspire the younger bakers.
6. Get immersed in the musical world of My Fair Lady at the Edinburgh Playhouse
New York’s Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning production of Lerner & Loewe’s much-loved My Fair Lady will play in Edinburgh Playhouse from Wednesday, December 14 until Saturday, January 7, 2023 while on UK Tour. My Fair Lady tells the story of a young common flower seller Eliza Doolittle, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor determined to transform her into his idea of a ‘proper lady’. The musical has been graced with an amazing cast, and Secret Edinburgh had the chance to chat with Heather Jackson herself about My Fair Lady, the role of Mrs Higgins and her career. To read the full interview and to find out more, check it out here.
7. Dine under an immersive aurora borealis light show at Tattu Edinburgh
This winter, snowfall will dust the oriental paradise of Tattu Edinburgh and the restaurant’s cherry blossoms will shimmer and sparkle alongside projections of the artic sky on the walls to create an immersive dining experience known as The Great Snow this festive season. This December, Tattu will be bringing winter to Edinburgh minus the drop in temperature and allowing guests to step into an enchanted winter scene and be transported to China’s northernmost point, Mohe, nicknamed China’s ‘Arctic town’. You can expect to feel fully immersed by the Northern Lights as you enjoy a delicious meal, while the restaurant’s wall art comes to life with a dazzling show of The Aurora Borealis.
8. Visit all the wonderful Christmas markets Edinburgh has to offer
As the first year in a long time with the festivities in full-swing, the excitement for the upcoming season can be sensed in the air as you walk through the streets of Edinburgh. The nostalgic traditions of Christmas markets that come back every year have us in our festive feels, as well as provides something to look forward to in the dark days. While it wouldn’t be a Christmas without visiting the main Edinburgh Christmas market, there are still plenty of charming Christmas markets to visit around Edinburgh. The main market will run between November 25 and January 3 and will see its traditional locations on Princes Street, West Princes Street Gardens and George Street.
Other noteworthy markets to visit are Jupiter Christmas Fair at Jupiter Artland on December 3 & 4, Leith Christmas Brewery Market on December 17 & 18, and Leith Witchcraft Market on December 10. And to check out our list of the best Christmas markets in Edinburgh, click here.
9. Experience Edinburgh Castle in a whole new light at this magical light trail
Castle of Light: A Kingdom of Colours is going to bring a whole new side to the famous Edinburgh landmark with a cheerful light trail within the castle grounds. Castle of Light will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 18 until December 30, excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Bursting with colour and spectacular illuminations, guests will be able to witness the Kingdom of Colours theme throughout during the 60-minute light trail, such as kaleidoscope patterns on St Margaret’s Chapel.
10. Visit Bar Hütte with Alpine-themed huts with karaoke
Bar Hütte is up and open at St Jame’s Quarter for the festive season, with a wonderful new winter wonderland for Edinburgers to enjoy. Bringing ski village vibes to the inner square, guests are able to book out their very own private ‘hütte’, perfect for getting together with friends during the colder months. As well as some karaoke-filled singalong fun, visitors can enjoy festive-themed drinks including hot gin, mulled wine and Irish hot chocolates.
11. Toast to Hogmanay at one of the greatest New Year’s celebrations in the world
It’s official, Edinburgh Hogmanay is back with the iconic Street Party to welcome in 2023 with a bang in the city centre. Expect DJ soundtracks, giant screens, funfair attractions and a complete selection of street food & drink throughout the arena. This year, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party visitors will be part of the light show. Every attendee will be given an LED wristband that will light up at midnight, creating a spectacular light show on the ground on West Princes Street as visitors from all over the world wave their hands in the air.
12. Indulge in a flawless dinner and the best chocolate fondant you’ve ever had
we have found the perfect spot for all your meaty, dessert and cocktail needs, and it’s Gordon Ramsay Bread Street Kitchen & Bar. Located at St Andrew Square, Bread Street Kitchen & Bar is a place of effortless splendour, where classic British cuisine meets modern signature touches. If you’re there for the signature beef wellington experience or to indulge in the large cuts, the portions are generous and are created to be shared. However, while the meat was upliftingly impressive, the dessert took the top spot. It is so good that even the staff recalled stories of the very first time they tried it, telling us tales of this mysterious yet amazing Chocolate Fondant with salted caramel ice cream. And on top of the amazing food, the cocktails are also to die for.