When autumn fades and the tree’s go bare, Edinburgh gets ready for Christmas. This week we had our first snow and the city looked like something from a postcard or a Hallmark movie. While it only lasted 10 minutes and it didn’t settle, it looked beautiful none the less.
Here is your wee guide to the best displays in the city for you to grab a hot chocolate and wander until your heart is content… Lets go!
OLD TOWN – THE ROYAL MILE
Where: Boswells Court, The Royal Mile
Tucked away down St Boswell’s Close is the Witchery. Each season they have their little nook filled with a display, from pumpkins to beautiful tree’s, it’s one to stop by at anytime of the year when you visit.
Don’t forget Jollie’s Close opposite, while you can’t walk down it, it does have a wee nook that is photo worthy.
Scottish Whisky Experience
Where: Next door to The Witchery
A lovely tree displayed on the street, and fairy lights around the building, it’s understated but adds a touch of whimsy to the mile.
Where: Top of the Royal Mile before the Castle
New to the festive decoration displays they have festoon lighting, foliage garland around the entrance and all the fairy lights. It’s such a lovely space and worth a stop if you are heading to the castle.
Where: The Castle Esplanade
In the evenings, The Castle of Light display plays on the front of the castle. You can see some of it from the esplanade if you aren’t planning on visiting the light show (which is my favourite in the city). It’s accompanied by music and best to see around 6-7pm.
NEW TOWN – ST ANDREWS SQUARE
Where: George Street
Each year the Dome wraps its impressive pillars in garlands & lights and is the talk of the town. The steps are filled with people taking selfies and giggling with friends in front of the nutcrackers. It’s a busy spot most of the day and night, rain or shine. You have to be patient if you want a shot here but it’s a must see spot. If you are lucky enough to get afternoon tea inside is just as spectacular inside with one of the biggest tree’s on display in the city.
Where: St Andrew’s Square
The theme each year changes for the Ivy, from a gingerbread house, last year the team at Wild Flowers created a scene inspired by Narnia. You could walk through the wardrobe into the restaurant but outside it was just as magical. This year isn’t as magnificent, they do have a polar bear on display, and you can get a beautiful shot with the Scott Monument in the background.
The Edinburgh Grand
Where: St Andrews square
The most impressive nutcrackers you ever did see on each side of the door way, with an automatic door that opens to reveal a grand tree inside the foyer. Just beautiful.
Where: St Andrews Square
This is a new spot to the city, opened last summer and is already impressing everyone. The Wildflowers team decorated inside and have made a magical fairy wonderland. With golden frogs, mushrooms and wild animals dotted around, that carries on into the hallway, surrounding a real log fire place. Beautifully classic. Don’t forget to see the chef’s incredible gingerbread house too!
Down by Harvey Nichols you can see a walk way adorned by lit up tree’s.
Where: North Bridge
Edinburgh University opened in 1538 and is an impressive place, It feels like something right from Hogwarts and a must visit anytime of year, looks even sweeter with a tree on display for all to see through the archway.
Where: Tucked behind Princes Street
Tucked away, often missed and looking beautiful. The Cafe Royal has some beautiful decorated doorways and giant wreaths on every window and red bows to match. Their building is always worth a visit but it’s a favourite of mine during the festive season.
PRINCES STREET & BEYOND
The Christmas Market
Of course this has to be top on the list. It spans Princes Street and gives the skyline a festive glow. It’s not as big as it has been in previous years, but it’s a treat for the eyes from the market and higher points in Edinburgh. Ice skating, ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds, nostalgically perfect. Grab a hot chocolate and wander around a while.
A lovely tree donated by Norway as a gift to mark the end of WW2, When you are on the mound you can see the decor all over the city, the market on Princes Street looks amazing from a little further away.
Where: West End
A digital display with the walking man on the front of the building, a stunning rooftop bar where you can see the lights all over the city. Keeping yourself warm with a whisky, or two.
Where: Opposite Johnny Walkers
All wrapped up in a big red bow, a gift to you from the city.
Where: Just beyond the West End
A favourite stop almost any time of the year, each season comes with its own themed decor but Christmas is special. Fairy lights and big red bows, a delight to see! It’s a little bit further out the centre of town but so worth a stop if you have the time.
Note: This is someone’s family home, they love sharing their decor with the city but please be respectful of their space.
Leading to the Grassmarket, you can stroll down the colourful street with snowflake lighting hanging above you. Store fronts delicately decorated with baubles and lights. So many independent stores to stop by here too.
Snowflake lights, and beautifully decorated stores, much the same as Victoria Street and stores just as pretty for a little Christmas shopping spree.
No matter where you end up in the city, I hope you have a magical time and live your best Hallmark movie life!
There is nothing like wandering Edinburgh with the perfect playlist on you can save it for later here:
My Little Christmas. Enjoy your Christmas wanders…