Struggling to get into the Christmas mood this year? Kirstin Innes rounds up a few handy festive events
In Glasgow, as ever, the Winterfest hubbub centres around George Square, gleefully decked out with the traditional mass of clashing, colourful lights. As well as the huge outdoor ice rink, the Big Stage is keeping stressed shoppers calm with a whole lotta live music. Quite the nicest wee treat they’ve got in store for you happens on the 21st December, when the RSNO Choir are on hand for a calming Carol Concert from 4–6pm. Did you do all your shopping online months ago and have no intention of entering the city centre until at least February? We applaud your organisational skillz, and probably hate you. You can still get a little festive feeling – and for free – at Kelvingrove Museum, where the excellently-named exhibition Oh Yes It Is! charts the history of the humble Christmas panto in Scotland in all its cross-dressing, thigh-slapping glory. If all that isn’t quite thrilling enough for you, head out to the Irn Bru Carnival at the SECC – the Christmas activity equivalent of an E-number fuelled sugar rush.
Over in Edinburgh, the twinkly Winter Wonderland in Princes Street Gardens is already up, running and instilling good cheer into the hearts of beleagured consumers. Traditionalists might like to check out the range of events at Lauriston Castle – there’s a series of workshops to help you create Christmas crafts, and a talk on our national seasonal traditions (Friday 12 December). Over on the other side of town, the Royal Highland Centre’s Christmas and New Year’s Carnival will be giving good festive thrills from Friday 19th December, with slides, rides and a particularly warm ‘n’ fuzzy-sounding event called The Meshams’ Wall of Death Motorcycle Stunt Show. Of course, if it’s a real white-Christmas-knuckle experience you’re after, check out the City of the Dead’s Festive Fright Fest tours from Saturday 27 December. Rather more traditionally, there’s a four-choir-strong Christmas Choral Concert throughout the day of Sunday 14 December at the National Museum of Scotland.
Finally, if you’re one of those proper Christmas junkies who really gets into the spirit of it, why not pour your enthusiasm into a good cause this year? On Sunday 14 December, both Edinburgh and Glasgow’s city centres will be overrun by a swarm of red and white, as the Santa Dash (Glasgow) and the rather more sedate Santa Stroll (Edinburgh) encourage you to dress up like, er, Santa, and take to the streets. The Edinburgh event ends up in the Grassmarket, with All A Twinkle, a festive street theatre and light show.
From when the lights are switched on 16 Nov until the last memories of Christmas fade on 11 Jan the city is taken over with an ice rink, Santa Dash, concerts, the Irn Bru Carnival and, of course, the Hogmanay bash on Wed 31 Dec.
This year's lecture programme at Lauriston Castle is rounded off with a light-hearted romp through several centuries of stylistic change in the decorative arts with David Scarratt, Lauriston's Building Manager and Curator. Includes refreshments and a tour of the castle.
Come along to this ever popular Christmas collage and craft workshop where you can try your hand at traditional crafts, making Christmas cards, paper, tags, boxes and one or two gifts. Includes coffee and stollen cake. Ages 16+.
Get in the festive mood with the RSNO's annual Christmas celebration, presented and conducted by Christopher Bell. Take the family along for singalong carols and Christmas classics, including the magical theme from 'The Snowman', with the story narrated by award-winning actor Tom Conti.
Daily free entertainment to keep you lingering in George Square despite the cold. The packed and ever-increasing schedule offers showcases on Mondays and Tuesdays (5-7pm), tea dances on Tuesdays (1-3pm), festive films on Wednesdays (6-8pm), a party with Real Radio on Fridays (6-9.30pm) and jazz Saturdays (5-7pm).
The city centre is swamped by Santas once again, as thousands of people don the old red and white for charity. Shopping discounts in the Grassmarket for anyone dressed as Old St Nick. To get involved, call 0844 481 1221