Celebrate the festive season with a sparkling silent dance party, The Voice's Saskia Eng and the triumphant return of La Clique Noël
As the days steadily grow shorter and autumn's chill gains its wintry edge here in Scotland, we are sustained by the warm glow of the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas. Events titan Underbelly has now unveiled its programme for the citywide festivities of Edinburgh's Christmas, with plenty of incredible light shows, music, theatre, dance and children's activities planned to keep the festival city celebrating through the cold.
This year, Edinburgh's Christmas is headlined by Silent Light, a new show from the Fringe-hit Silent Adventures. Set beneath the dazzling architectural light installation from 2016's Street of Light, a silent dance party will take over George Street, with three themes to choose from: Santa's Sparkles, which offers up family-friendly beats, to festive favourites with Christmas Crackers, and Disco Delights catering to the party-goers. In keeping with the giving spirit, 50p from every ticket sold will be given to One City Trust, a charity which fights inequality and exclusion in Edinburgh.
Silent Light / credit: Matt Beech
The annual Night Light return 18 November to mark the start of the Christmas season, with Edinburgh's own Saskia Eng, a competitor on this year's season of The Voice, to switch on the Christmas lights. Once more hosted by Forth 1's Arlene Stuart, the evening's celebration will feature a fireworks spectacular, set to a soundtrack of local choirs across Scotland.
Other hallmarks of the season set to make their return include – of course – the Princes Street Gardens' Christmas Market. Voted the best Christmas market in the UK last year, the market will hawk their extensive range of homemade gifts, scrumptious treats and fairground rides, including the Forth 1 Big Wheel and gravity-defying Star Flyer. Santa Land will also once more house family attractions like the Christmas tree maze and the Santa Train, whilst Santa's Grotto in its new home on Castle Street will be the place where children can listen to festive tales and sit on the knee of the man in red himself.
Princes Street Christmas Market / credit: Iain Cameron
St Andrews Square also remains a Christmas hub, with the famous elliptical ice rink wrapping itself around the iconic plinth and the Rekorderlig Cider Lodge. For an added dose of that nostalgic Christmas feeling, the square will also set the stage for the free Nativity Carol Concert (2 Dec), a soaring showcase of traditional carols.
In addition to celebrating the festive season, Edinburgh's Christmas remains a proud proponent of the vibrant creative energy that propels Scotland's capital year-round. This year, their Winter Windows – a creative project that displays the talents of Edinburgh's young emerging artists across streets and community hubs – will feature stained-glass windows based around the theme of kindness, with showcases planned as far as Pilton and Newhaven. Furthermore, the advent calendar projection will return this year as the 24 Doors of Advent, which will offer glimpses into the unique buildings and organisations at work in the city, from Edinburgh Printmakers and Murrayfield to Dovecot Studios and Leith's Custom House.
Bernie Dieter / credit: Ian Georgeson
This year's festive theatre offerings are more dizzingly diverse than ever before, with La Clique Noël bringing their genre-blending adult variety show to the Festival Square Spiegeltent with La Clique Noël - Part Deux, hosted by Little Death Club's Bernie Dieter. For the kids, Nonsense Room Productions will also be bringing to the stage a new interactive musical show based on Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt's book You Choose. Each show will let the audience take the reins and feature a new story based on a series of games and challenges.
Stages across Edinburgh will also be showcasing a diverse bill of theatrical delights, from Christmas classics such as the Royal Lyceum Theatre's Wendy and Peter Pan and Hans Christian Andersen's The Mother over at Pleasance, to thought-provoking writing from Gary McNair in McGonagall's Chronicles and Fringe First winner Kieran Hurley in Mouthpiece. Renowned playwright Jo Clifford will also be bringing her portrayal of a transgender Jesus to the Traverse for the first time in The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, ten years after its premiere.
Therefore, despite the cold and the dark of the winter months ahead, with so many sparkling winter attractions and an excitingly fresh cultural programme on offer, it's hard to imagine anywhere near as magical as Edinburgh at Christmas.
Six weeks of winter wonderland, with Edinburgh transformed by a fairground, a host of colourful lights and the fabled European Christmas market with dozens of stalls selling traditional trinkets and crafts as well as delicious Teutonic treats (and, of course, glühwein).