Best Christmas events in Edinburgh
From the Royal Mile's Street of Light illuminations to the RSNO's the Snowman
There's no shortage of Christmas cheer down your way this year. We round up some of the best that Edinburgh has to offer people looking for festive cheer.
Edinburgh's Christmas Markets
Why have one market when you can have three? Covering the Mound and streaking back along East Princes Street Gardens, the European Christmas Market brings a taste of the continent to the capital with stalls selling stollen, pretzels, crepes and bratwurst. Browse a wealth of handmade crafts including tree decorations, children's toys and jewellery or warm up with mugs of gluhwein, hot rum or gourmet hot chocolate. Tucked behind is the Children's Market in the thrillingly named Santa Land while, over in St Andrew Square, the Scottish Market celebrates produce closer to home with sausages, craft beer, seafood and Scottish accessories all on sale. But don't worry, there's no mulled Buckfast.
East Princes Street Gardens & St Andrew Square, Fri 20 Nov–Mon 4 Jan.
The formula for switching on Christmas lights in towns and cities is pretty standard – a celebrity, in this case Susan Boyle, is invited to switch on the fairy lights and flashing bells adorning the streets. Edinburgh, however, cranks it up several notches inviting over 50 community and school groups to perform across a series of stages. The performances, ranging from dance to music and song, are designed to celebrate Christmas and Arlene Stuart from Forth 1 is on hand to keep you right about who’s who. This year’s theme is ‘Light’, so prepare to be illuminated.
George Street, Sun 22 Nov.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A dramatised version of CS Lewis' children's classic about the land of Narnia, where the evil White Witch has made it permanently winter but banned the celebration of Christmas. Not unlike that feeling you get in early January when the festivities are over but it’s still winter. Set in an enchanted, permanently snowy world populated by beavers, lions and loveable Mr Tumnus, it's a traditional tale of bravery and friendship. A good choice if you're looking for a panto alternative – majestic Aslan is highly unlikely to engage in a round of ‘he's behind you' or make a crack about the latest X-Factor lineup.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Sat 28 Nov–Sun 3 Jan.
Virgin Money Street of Light
A new addition to Edinburgh’s Christmas, the Street of Light is set to brighten up the Old Town from St Andrew's Day right through until Christmas Eve. An architectural installation featuring over 60,000 lights stretches along the Royal Mile from the Tron Kirk to the City Chambers. Not content with creating a canopy of light to banish the dark winter nights, the display also plays music. Recordings by local choirs Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the Edinburgh Gay Men’s Chorus, Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and Edinburgh Police Choir are synchronised with the lights and play twice an evening.
Royal Mile, Mon 30 Nov–Thu 24 Dec.
Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook
The world famous accordion player calls together his musical mates and opens up his Christmas songbook once more for a night of traditional and contemporary festive tunes. He’s joined by regular collaborators and folk glitterati Eddi Reader, Kris Drever, Ian Carr, Karen Matheson, John McCusker, Kevin McGuire and the Songbook Brass Ensemble. Despite the all-star vocal cast, they’ll still need some help singing a few seasonal hits.
The Queen’s Hall, Fri 18 & Sat 19 Dec.
RSNO Christmas Concert: The Snowman
Can only professional singers hit the high notes in 'Walking in the Air'? Now's your chance to try as the animated Christmas staple The Snowman is screened at the Usher Hall with live accompaniment by the Scottish National Orchestra, the RSNO Chorus and narration by special guest star Georgie Glen. Hosted by conductor Christopher Bell, the concert also features traditional and contemporary carols as well as festive favourites to get everyone's sleigh bells jingling and ring ting tingling too.
Usher Hall, Sun 20 Dec.