Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Every winter Edinburgh enjoys holiday illumination which attracts many visitors. Edinburgh Christmas lights are an essential part of the holidays and a favourite winter entertainment for families. Edinburgh Christmas market has been canceled this year due to a pandemic, but there’s still plenty of holiday fun planned in the capital.
Christmas at the Botanics (November 26, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden is one of the best spots to enjoy the Christmas spirit in the city. A one-mile sparkling path features over a million twinkling lights, unusual tree canopies and the famous Glasshouses filled with Christmas colour. Don't miss unique, larger-than-life glowing incandescent flowers and illuminated tree sculptures. Kids will enjoy the sparkling snowflakes, stars, reindeer, gingerbread men and a visit to Santa and his elves.
Spectacle of Light (December 5, 2020–January 3, 2021) and Santa’s Grotto (November 28–December 23, 2020) at Dalkeith Country Park
The illuminated Spectacle of Light trail through Dalkeith Country Park takes the visitors across the winding river with cozy lantern and sparkling starbursts. Once there, make sure to go to viewing platforms in Fort Douglas for excellent views of the colorful light carpet and the Orangerie. The magic of Fort Douglas being all lit under the stars and the journey amongst the tree canopy in the Sky Maze—what beautiful your Christmas memories can be! To make your experience even better, the park offers mulled wine, hot chocolate, marshmallow toasting, and hot foods in Fort Douglas. If you want to chill out, book a table for seated dining at Restoration Yard. Santa and his elves pay a visit to Dalkeith Country Park to give kids a genuinely magical experience: each child gets plenty of time to tell their dearest dreams and wishes. They also get a chance to get a photo (a socially distanced one) with Santa and to receive an under-the-tree gift. Please note that Santa has to keep a two-meter distance from all the visitors to keep everyone safe and healthy. Santa’s Grotto admission ticket also includes same-day access to Fort Douglas.
Beecraigs Festive Forest (December 4–2, 2020)
Beecraigs Festive Forest (December 4–2, 2020) Beecraigs Country Park near Linlithgow promises a spectacular and magical festive experience. The location is simply perfect as it offers panoramic views over Edinburgh, the Forth Bridges, and the Lothians. Here you can witness one of the most powerful laser shows in the UK's and stunning lighting effects. Follow a trail through the forest to see holiday illuminations and special effects with sounds brought by some of the country's most innovative lighting design professionals. Enjoy family-friendly fun for all ages with magical characters and go on fun rides. For true dreamers, there is Santa's Grotto, where they can post their letters to the North Pole and meet Santa with his elves. If you want to grab a bite, there is a variety of delicious festive foods and drinks, including mulled wine, cider, hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows, had roasted chestnuts.
Light Night (canceled in 2020)
George Street hosts one of the major Christmas light installations and shows—Light Night. This popular free event attracts about 20,000 people every year. It features choirs from all over Scotland and fantastic fireworks. The finale of the afternoon is a spectacular fireworks display marking the official switch-on of Edinburgh’s Christmas lights accompanied by Santa’s “flying” visit.
Christmas Market at East Princes Street Gardens (canceled in 2020)
Dazzling lights and magical rides are nestled in the heart of Edinburgh. Head to the East Princes Street Gardens to enjoy traditional Christmas market where everyone can find something special and festive. Stalls selling all sorts of local products, gifts, and delicious treats.
Street of Light (canceled in 2020)
The most popular light display of the past years was an extraordinary architectural installation called "Street of Light." It is launched every year on St Andrew’s Day and stays running until Christmas Eve. The 26 stunning light arches installed in the Old Town feature 60,000 LED lights. They are almost 20 m high, throwing light over the Royal Mile, starting from the City Chambers and ending at the Tron Kirk. The lights are accompanied by music and holiday songs performed by Edinburgh's most famous choirs: the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, the Edinburgh Gay Men’s Chorus, and the Edinburgh Police Choir.