However much we treasure the December traditions of being jostled by shoppers and fighting over the last Buzz Lightyear on the shelf (woah, that went a bit 1996), it’s always good to take a break from the high stress of Christmas shopping. Try these alternative festive activities for some well-earned respite.
In Glasgow, Pollock House hosts its comprehensive Christmas celebrations until the Sun 3 Jan. Each room is decorated in a different style, the Pollock Teddy Bears are in attendance, and a nice Christmassy lunch is available at the Edwardian Kitchen Restaurant. It’s open 10am-5pm and costs £4, or £1 for members.
George Square hosts its own Christmas Eve celebrations, with carol singers, food and screenings of festive films, while over at Trongate 103 you can take a gander at the contemporary Christmas tree, designed by Nadfly and Baxendale and loaded with thousands of handmade decorations. Both events are free, but Trongate 103 closes at noon on Christmas Eve, so get there early.
Over on the east coast, Edinburgh’s Red Bus tours are a great alternative to trudging around the streets. On Thu 17 Dec, the Winter Wonderland evening trip (£5; £3 concessions) escorts you to the Princes St Garden’s Christmas village with live fiddling from Roland Fraser; the evening trip up to the castle (available until 19 Dec. £6; £4 concessions) also features Roland on the fiddle, and adds in some tasty hot punch as you take in marvellous views of the city’s Christmas lights.
If you fancy a bit of a natter, Donald Smith, Lawrence Tulloch, Judy Paterson and Danny Jamieson gather round on the evening of Thu 17 Dec to share some Christmas-related stories at (where else?) the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile, complete with music and mulled wine (prices £10; £8 concessions). For chat of a more academic nature, the National Museum of Scotland hosts a Christmas Lecture: Building Intercultural Bridges Between East and West, by Dr Ulrike Al-Khamis, co-director of The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation. Mulled wine and mince pies are available, tickets cost £5 (£4; free for members), and you must book in advance.
Edinburgh and Lauriston Castles offer events for folks at either end of the jolliness spectrum: Edinburgh hosts their Cromwellian Christmas (£11; £8 concessions; £6 kids), offering an experience of those miserable years when Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas. Lauriston are decidedly more cheery, inviting you to create your own Christmas Wreath from the castle woodlands (£15. Booking essential).
Or, if you want something totally out of the hustle and bustle of the major cities, head out to Lanark’s Christmas Experience for all the yuletide activities you could want in one place: panto, Santa, a screening of The Snowman and The Spirit of Christmas Sparkling Ride! Tickets cost £8.50 or £30 for the family, and it runs 11am-5pm daily (although not Monday or Tuesday) until Christmas Eve.