Yup, you guessed it! ‘Tis the season to drink mulled wine, eat tons of spiced cookies and rewatch Home Alone/Love Actually yet again. And what better way to get the Christmas spirit than to visit Edinburgh Christmas Market! So get yourself a mug of hot chocolate, cozy up underneath a blanket and check out our 5 reasons to see one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe.
We’re extremely fortunate to call Edinburgh our home. It’s our second year in this amazing city and it’s safe to say it gets even more incredible at Christmas time. The funny thing is, last year we did not appreciate the Market at all. As both of us were constantly at work, we just walked along the alleys closest to the entrance and that was pretty much it. And boy, were we surprised this year when we actually got a chance to fully experience it.
Every year, Edinburgh Christmas Market is in the same place. The bigger one is located at East Princes Street Gardens, while the smaller one is on George Street. There is also the Ice Rink on St Andrew Square which has a lovely bar right in the middle of it. All of these spots are within walking distance of each other, beautifully placed in the heart of Edinburgh’s new town. The entrance is free but some attractions are paid-for. If you’re coming to the capital of Scotland during this festive period, brace yourself. There is a great variety of attractions, a myriad of various booths and hordes of people, especially at weekends.
So without further ado, here are our 5 reasons why you should visit Edinburgh Christmas Market:
1. CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
Christmas Markets are all about the atmosphere. Charming little lights on every corner, the smell of spices and mulled wine, Christmas songs playing everywhere… Well, it’s no different here. Christmas spirit hit us the minute we walked through the gate.
Even though we visited the Market on the very first day it opened, we immediately started thinking about holiday. It was the middle of November! Thoughts of a Christmas tree for our new flat started storming in once we saw these beautiful handmade decorations.
The main market at Princes St Gardens is huge and apparently, it grows a bit each year. There are winding alleys leading you to surprising places and there’s always the Big Wheel and The Scott Monument towering over you like a proper navigational aid. And just when you think you saw it all, you discover yet another walkway with even more exciting Christmassy trinkets. So make sure you get a proper jumper on – you wouldn’t want to get cold and not be able to explore it to the last bit.
The only thing that’s usually missing from Edinburgh Christmas Market? Snow! But hey, you cannot have everything, right? 😉
TIP: Buy some scent bags from one of the stalls – this way you’ll get some of that lovely spice & orange smell with you to keep you in that Christmas spirit.
Another reason why you should definitely visit Edinburgh Christmas Market is shopping. Rest assured, here you’ll find heaps of inspiration for home decor, unique gifts and even some festive DIY projects. There are over 130 stalls here from all over Europe! So what exactly can you expect?
- Unique Christmas decorations and ornaments: handmade baubles, wooden figurines, scent holder houses, mosaic lanterns, and many, MANY more!
- Warm, winter clothing: Cosy woolen jumpers, scarves, mittens, hats, tartan bow ties and, although it’s not really wintery, even some wooden ties 😉
- Food & drink: a variety of different alcohols (moonshine included!), flavoured coffee beans, chutneys & condiments, gingerbread hearts, fudge, candy and the Scottish classics: tablets & shortbreads
- For the little ones: toys, mascots and other lovely things
- And many, many others like gemstones, crystals, candles, crockery, jewellery, leatherwork, souvenirs…
Our picks from Edinburgh Christmas Market are alpaca wool socks, perfect for those winter evenings, airy glass baubles, chic and simply stunning, and homemade butter tablet, so essentially Scottish.
TIP: Take photos for gift and DIY inspirations. Even if you come in January, you never know what might catch your eye for next year.
3. FOOD AND DRINK
Well, it’s no surprise that festive December events are generally a paradise for foodies all over the world. Here, Edinburgh Christmas Market definitely doesn’t disappoint. With vendors from all over Europe, the versatility is amazing. We were both walking around with permanent “Oh, look at this!” and “What about that one?” and “I reeeeally want to try it!”. No judgement, so will you!
From the European specialties, you can try German bratwurst and bratkartoffeln, French crepes and galettes, Hungarian kürtőskalács and lángos , Polish pierogi and bigos, all very different and smelling incredible. There are also British classics like fish and chips or burgers. Something for a sweet tooth, something for a salty one, too. (Plus some gluten-free and vegan options!)
But Christmas wouldn’t be the same without something to drink (and with a bit of a kick). There is a great selection of beverages as well and two bars on the premises – a Baileys Winter Bar and a festive wooden stall as well. Mulled wine, mulled cider, rum, beer, gin, all you can think of.
With regards to the prices, they are rather high in general, but it is to be expected from a festive event like this. Food varies from £1 to £8, mulled wine – £4 (£6 with rum), small beer – £4, cider £5.
TIP: Walk around a bit and check different stalls – there are many great options and some of the places are a bit cheaper than the others.
4. FESTIVE ATTRACTIONS
Ok, time for some fun! Obviously, you’ve come here to enjoy yourself in other ways, too. We haven’t really tried many of the amazing attractions yet but we’ve seen most of them in action. With all the choices, it’s tough to pick just a few, but there are a couple which cannot be missed.
- Star Flyer, which is right next to The Scott Monument, can make your head spin but it gives you a perfect 360 degree view of Edinburgh (£7.50 for 2-5 minutes)
- Big Wheel seems like a safer option (but who am I kidding, it’s still very much high up) is probably the most popular attraction (£9 for 5-7 minutes)
- Drop Tower on George St Market will make you fall 60m down, it looks scary even from the ground – we’ll post a little video we made on Instagram in a couple of days (£7.50 for a huge drop :))
- Ice Rink, a winter classic with lovely atmosphere, and they provide skates (£9 – £12.50 for 45 minutes)
- Gypsy clairvoyance & tarot reading in a beautiful barrel booth, the ladies seem very eager to tell you your future 🙂
- Kids games and attractions with Christmas tree maze and many others
Please bear in mind, the list is not exhaustive 🙂 You can check out the website for all the other things Edinburgh has in store this year.
We’re planning to get some skates on and glide around the Ice Rink soon, so you’ll definitely see us in action on Instagram and Facebook 🙂 And Natalia has some serious fear of heights… Maybe the Big Wheel could be a cure!
TIP: Pre-book your tickets online to skip a long queue waiting for you at the box office! You can also reserve a spot by phone.
Last but not least, Edinburgh Christmas Market is perfect for getting some incredible shots. If you’re a professional photographer, a shooting hobbyist or just someone who loves capturing great memories, this place will amaze you. We wanted to take photos of every single thing. The market is so beautiful, it would be a shame not to save its charm for later!
One great thing is that even in the evenings, it’s bright enough. The multicoloured lights are dazzling and provide some great illumination and background. There is a stunning carousel with intricate details, a helter skelter full of colours, a huge light dome on George St, loads of reflective ornaments and lovely displays everywhere you go.
You’re bound to get some Insta-worthy shots!
TIP: Take some portraits right in front of the lights – you’ll be positively glowing!
With all that in mind, as much as we’d love to be able to describe it all, it’s quite impossible. The spirit of Edinburgh Christmas Market has to be experienced first hand. We hope you got some inspiration from here and decide to visit Edinburgh in the winter.
This year, Edinburgh Christmas runs from 17 November to 6 January. It is open daily between 10am and 10pm with the exception of Christmas Day and a couple of other days. All the details can be found on this website.
Now, we’d love to hear from you. Have you ever been to Edinburgh Christmas Market? If so, what did you like the most? What other Christmas Markets should we visit? Share it with us in the comments below.
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