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Visiting Edinburgh for Winter Breaks


For many international visitors who head to Edinburgh in August for the Edinburgh International Festival and associated arts festivals, Scotland’s capital is inextricably linked with the summer season – even if the UK’s unreliable weather means this entails rain as much as bright and sunny days. However, people hoping to experience a more romantic and reflective side of Edinburgh are advised to travel to the city long after the festival crowds have vanished and the nights start drawing in, when Edinburgh takes on new life as a winter city.

If you’re fortunate enough to have witnessed Edinburgh’s skyline in the snow, it’s not likely to be a memory you’ll soon forget – particularly with the city’s many parks and wide open spaces, such as the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat, being transformed by the season. But winter in Edinburgh doesn’t just mean colder temperatures and a chance of snow, as many parts of the city take on new life for the festive period – none more so than the area surrounding Princes Street Gardens in the city centre, which becomes a sparkling winter wonderland of market stalls, carnival rides and other entertainments from late November to early January each year.

Celebrating Christmas in Edinburgh means you can look out over historic buildings and scenery that rivals that of any other city in the UK, and staying for New Year is advised if you’re keen to get involved in one of the world’s biggest street parties – the famous Hogmanay, which features such notable acts as Primal Scream among the fireworks and other festivities.

If you’re keen to experience some authentic Scottish traditions during your Edinburgh holidays in the wintertime, there’s more than just Auld Lang Syne to look forward to. Visiting in late January is a chance to experience the national holiday of Burns Night (usually on the poet’s birthday on 25 January), which is the perfect chance to try the famous local dish of haggis as well as plenty of Scotch whisky.

Edinburgh may be blessed with numerous traditions of its own, but you can still enjoy other aspects of the British Christmas period when visiting this city in the run-up to 25 December, including longer opening hours at the city’s shopping malls in numerous locations and the chance to take part in winter sports such as skiing at the Midlothian Snowsports Centre. Theatres such as the Edinburgh Playhouse can always be relied on to stage excellent pantomimes too, as well as hosting the biggest musicals when their national tours pass through Scotland.

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