Every winter in Edinburgh there is a wide range of festivals and fairs that highlight every strand of culture and art, promoting the city as one of the UK’s major tourist destinations. Here are five of the finest events taking place across December, January and February.
Venues across Edinburgh, 20 November-4 January
One of the world’s greatest cities pulls out all the stops each Christmas with a dazzling array of events and activities taking place across the Scottish capital. Edinburgh’s Christmas is renowned as a truly inclusive occasion, with families, couples and groups of friends all descending on the city during the festive period. Whether its panoramic views of the capital from the top of the Big Wheel, a soothing spin around the charming carousel in East Princes Street Gardens, or an invigorating twirl on the 60-metre-high Star Flyer in St Andrew Square, every taste and predilection is catered for. Younger kids, meanwhile, will love Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens, a festive fairground with six fun rides and a children’s market full of gifts and toys.
Stockbridge, 5-6 December
This annual event is now in its fifth year and goes from strength to strength with over 30 charity stalls to browse around within the comfort of a large marquee. Highlights will include a Santa Parade through the heart of Stockbridge, Pipe Bands, with Santa, Reindeer and an escort of Elves all in tow. Meanwhile kids will enjoy what has been claimed to be the best Santa’s Grotto in Edinburgh.
The Royal Mile, 29-30 December
What better way to start Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebrations than taking a dip into the rich and diverse world of Scotch whisky. Part of the annual Scotch Whisky Experience, the Distillers’ Fair sees distillers from across Scotland descend on Edinburgh for two days to share their passion and expertise for Scotch whisky. Talk to the key brands behind some of the world’s finest whiskies, learn about the history behind its production and blending and – most important of all – enjoy a dram or two.
George Square Lecture Theatre, 5-7 February 2016
Anyone with a passion for the great outdoors will love this vibrant, independent film festival which celebrates the world’s most popular adrenaline fuelled open-air pursuits. Established in 2003, the festival offers lectures by the most famous names in mountaineering and short adventure films about climbing, skiing, kayaking, mountain biking and BASE jumping. For added local interest, much of the action is filmed in Scotland. The festival also runs film, photography and writing competitions open to the general public.
Edinburgh Castle, 24-25 January
Various Burns Suppers, ceilidhs and similar celebrations take place around the city to celebrate the birth date of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. One of the most popular is staged at the grand Edinburgh Castle, which hosts a fun, interactive introduction to the works or Robert Burns enabling visitors to gain a better understanding of his legendary poems.
Summerhall, 25 January
Summerhall, one of Scotland’s most creative hubs for the arts, throws itself into the spirit of Burns Night by hosting a rich celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns. Bagpipes, recitals and a traditional serving of haggis, neeps and tatties all feature in Summerhall’s take on the world famous Burns Supper, with guests even offered the opportunity to participate in a recital themselves. Dinner will be followed by a nip of whisky to toast the legendary bard, with three piece band The Auld Alliance rounding things off with a barnstorming ‘ceilidh’.
Edinburgh City Centre, 31 December
Edinburgh plays host to one of the world’s most iconic New Year’s celebrations and this year’s promises to be bigger and better than ever. The centre of the action, as always, is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, which is expected to welcome 75,000 revellers to the city centre to enjoy a diverse array of live entertainment spread across a total of seven stages. This year artists include Newcastle’s alt-rock band Maxïmo Park while there is also a live Funk n Soul Show. The Old Town Ceilidh, the world’s largest outdoor ceilidh, features live bands on two stages as well as an exciting attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest Scottish Country Dance. Furthermore, there are fireworks throughout the evening culminating in the spectacular Midnight Moment which lifts from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle and from Calton Hill.
Assembly Rooms, 5-6 December
If you’re needing some inspiration for Christmas Gifts then pop along to the 3D2D Christmas Crafts Art & Design Fair. A fabulous opportunity to buy direct from over 100 of Scotland’s leading artists and craftspeople, who’ve been selected for quality and originality, all under one roof. This is a chance to pick up anything from stocking fillers to extravagant presents – there is something to suit all budgets and tastes.