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FREE and Cheap Christmas Events for Children and Families in Scotland 2014

  • Sharon McDougall -
  • 3rd December 2014 -
  • 15 minutes to read

Click here for our 2018 Christmas Events in Scotland

‘Tis the season to be jolly… but we know just what financial pressures Christmas can bring. So here at Scotland Debt Solutions, we’ve compiled the definitive list of free and cheap festive events across Scotland’s four largest cities that cater for kids and families – from Santa Grottos, to pantomimes, to storytelling and face-painting.

Here’s where you and your children can enjoy Christmas in a pocket-friendly fashion:


24 Days of Advent – FREE Entry to Unique Buildings

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Across the city / December 1-24

To celebrate the run up to Christmas, lots of special Edinburgh buildings – that are usually closed to the public – will be opened for one day only with free entry. The initiative runs from Dec 1 to Dec 24 and you can find out more about which buildings you can visit here:

Christmas Tree Maze

Cost: £2

Where and When: East Princes Street Gardens, EH2 2BY / December 15 to January 4

£2 per child and available throughout the Christmas holidays (15 Dec to 4 Jan). Find your way to the centre and then try and remember your way back out!

Step Into Christmas

Cost: £6 for kids with free accompanying adult

Where and When: Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh / December 22

Tickets are going fast for this Christmas storytelling and dance workshop with Rudolph the Reindeer, Joseph the Snowman and Bella the Snow-Angel. Ages 3–7. Tickets can be bought from: 

Christmas Baking for Kiddies

Cost: £8 per child

Where and When: Jenn’s Den, 31 Corbiehill Road, EH4 5BQ / 18 Dec 10:30am (age 18 months – 3 years) and 23 Dec 10:30am (age 3+ years)

Join the Pantry team at Jenn’s Den for some festive, bambini-friendly baking. Think perfect gifts for grandparents, edible tree decorations, cake pops and cookies. Work together with your wee one and the Pantry team to create edible festivities, and enjoy a bit of free play while you’re at it. More info: 

Edinburgh Christmas Tree Festival

Cost: FREE

Where and When: St Andrew’s and St George’s Church, 13 George Street, EH2 2PA / 15-24 Dec, 11am – 4pm

Come explore a forest of sparkling trees decorated by local businesses and charities. Enjoy live music, find a moment to reflect and rekindle the spark of Christmas. New this year are late opening Thursday evenings, until 9pm.

Lothian Buses Christmas Grotto Bus

Cost: FREE

Where and When: St Andrew Square / 21 Dec, 12 noon – 4pm

Santa’s saving his sleigh for Christmas Eve but catch him on a festive Lothian bus throughout December. Come meet Santa and his elf, give a small donation to It’s Good 2 Give and receive a present.

Tales and Traditions of a Victorian Christmas

Cost: £9.60 aged 5-15, FREE aged 0-5, £15 Adults

Where and When: Edinburgh Castle / 20 – 23 December 2014, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.00pm & 3.00pm

Learn some of the origins of Christmas traditions from Victorian times and how a visit to an Edinburgh graveyard inspired Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The event is included free in the normal Castle admission price.

The Twelve Elves of Christmas Elf Hunt

Cost: £5 per family

Where and When: Serenity Cafe, The Tun, 8 Jackson Entry, 111 Holyrood Road / 15-24 Dec, 9:30am – 4:30pm

Follow this story of the twelve elves of Christmas and see if you can find them hiding in the nooks and crannies of the Royal Mile.

Stories Round the Tree

Cost: £3 for kids, £14 family

Where and When: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43–45 High Street / 23-24 December, 1pm – 1.45pm and 3pm – 3.45pm

Cosy Christmas eve storytelling session gathered around the decorated Christmas tree with Fiona Herbert. Suitable for ages 4+

Santa Land

Cost: FREE

Where and When: East Princes Street Gardens / 15 December – 4 January

Must not miss! A host of Christmas festivities for wee people. Visit Santa’s Grotto, the Christmas Tree Maze, a children’s market and enjoy family-friendly rides such as the Santa Train, North Pole Slide, Race-a-Rama, Swan Lake, Reindeer Ride and a rollercoaster.

Santa’s Farmyard Cottage

Cost: £5 per child

Where and When: Almond Valley Heritage Centre, Millfield, Livingston, EH54 7AR / 15-24 December, 10am – 5pm

Visit Santa in his farmyard cottage, meet the animals and make your own Christmas decorations in the museum. A ticket to visit Santa and receive an early Christmas present costs only £3.50 per child and includes their free admission to Almond Valley.

Festive Felt

Cost: £5 for kids

Where and When: Lauriston Castle, 2a Cramond Road South, EH4 5QD / Monday 22 December, 10:30am – 12:30am

Make unique felt Christmas decorations using craft materials, simple stitches or natural items foraged from the grounds at Lauriston Castle.

Princes Street Gardens Ice Rink

Cost: £5 or family for £20

Where and When: East Princes Street Gardens / 15 December – 4 January

Glide like an angel, or fall like a toddler; have fun either way on the ice rink set below Edinburgh Castle, a now traditional feature of the city’s Christmas fun. Lessons are available on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4pm–6pm. Sessions vary between 30 and 45 minutes on the ice. Please arrive 20 minutes in advance to get your skates on. Skate hire is included in the price of an ice skating ticket, but you’re also welcome to bring your own skates subject to suitability checks.

Cinderella Pantomime

Cost: £7 (Family of four £24; Children under 2 free)

Where and When: Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill Newbridge, Ratho, EH28 8AA / 22 December, 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Get your pumpkin coaches and magically generated ball gowns at the ready – Cinderella is here for one night only. This family friendly Christmas production from Chaplins Pantos is ideal for wee ones up to the age of 10, but grownups can cheer, chant and boo too.

Santa’s Grotto, Sleigh Rides and Soft Play

Cost: £10 per child

Where and When: Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill Newbridge, Ratho, EH28 8AA / 20-21 December, 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Children can have a fantastic sleigh ride to see Santa in his magical Grotto, and enjoy an hour’s soft play in our fabulous Scrambles soft play or our mega Rock Tots Play Cafe. They can have an adventure on a very special sleigh ride to see Santa in his Grotto (there may be some singing involved!) When they arrive they get their present from Santa in the unique surroundings of our fantastical winter wonderland.

Breakfast with Santa

Cost: £12.95

Where and When: Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill Newbridge, Ratho, EH28 8AA / 22 December, 9:30am – 11am

Tuck into some sausages and eggs with the jolly old man himself. His little helper reads a magical story before it’s time for presents, games and face painting.

Festive Family Fun Day

Cost: FREE (But ticket required for Castle entry, £9 for children aged 5-15)

Where and When: Palace of Holyroodhouse, Royal Mile / 21 and 28 December, 9:30am – 4:30pm

Family fun day including storytelling, face painting, arts and crafts, festive food and Christmas carol performances. Visit the palace family room to play classic Victorian games and try on costumes. The event is included free in the normal Castle admission price.


Glasgow Loves Christmas

Cost: Prices Vary (Free to ££)

Where and When: East Princes Street Gardens / 15 December – 4 January

Six weeks of festive celebrations in Glasgow city centre. Watch the centre be lit up at Glasgow Christmas Lights switch-on, race 5k dressed as Mr Claus at the Santa Dash, watch the parade at the Style Mile Christmas Carnival and enjoy the outdoor ice skating rink at Glasgow On Ice. You can find out more info here: 

Mrs Claus Christmas Party

Cost: £10 per Child

Where and When: Pollok House, Pollok Country Park, G43 1AT / 20 Dec 10:00, 24 Dec 10:00

While Santa is busy, Mrs Claus will be hosting her Christmas party with games, storytelling and a personal escort to her very special grotto. Join Mrs Claus for extra special festive fun at her Christmas party. Enjoy games, a sing-a-long-Christmas-carols and storytelling while you indulge in your Christmas treats. Every guest will receive balloons, a Christmas card from Mrs Claus and then a personal escort to her upstairs Grotto. Afterwards, you can enter our Christmas trail through the enchanted wardrobe and learn about Christmas past and present.

A Very Merry Barrowlands Christmas

Cost: Prices Vary (Free to ££)

Where and When: People’s Palace & Winter Gardens, Glasgow Green / 23 December 1pm & 30 December 1pm

Christmas songs and dance for all the family.

The Great Christmas Puppet Making Workshop

Cost: £5.95 per child

Where and When: Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre, 8–10 Balcarres Avenue, Glasgow / 20 December, 10am or 2pm

Kids can create a festive puppet elf, reindeer, fairy or angel to give as a present or keep and enjoy themselves.

Kudos Kids – The Ultimate Frozen Christmas Party

Cost: £10 per child

Where and When: Kudos Bar Restaurant, 29 Waterloo Street / 20 December, 10am

Those kids just ain’t getting tired of Frozen are they? Kudos host a festive party with sing-a-longs, games, snacks, a Frozen photo studio and prizes for the best fancy dress. There’s also the chance to meet Olaf, princess Elsa and Santa.

The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot

Cost: Children £5.50; Adult £9.50; Family £25

Where and When: The Arches, 253 Argyle Street / 15 December – 4 January, Performance times 10:30, 13:30 and 16:30

The feelgood tale of a young boy who doesn’t enjoy Christmas or exchanging gifts … until the tradition suddenly disappears. A festive adventure story for all the family about gifts, friendship and the importance of eating your vegetables. Ideal for ages 3–8. Performance lasts 45mins.

M&D’s On Ice

Cost: £6.25–£7.95

Where and When: M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park / 23 December 1pm & 30 December 1pm

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a spot of ice skating. M&D’s open air ice rink returns offering kids and adults alike a chance to show off their skating skills. Spectators can enjoy festive food and drink in Santa’s Inn.


Cost: £6–£12

Where and When: Tramway, G41 2PE / 17-21 December, for performance times

From the creators of Albert Drive and Junction 25 comes this dynamic, feel-good show for the whole family.

Breakfast With Santa

Cost: £12.95 (Children £9.95)

Where and When: Hard Rock Café, 179 Buchanan Street / 20-21 December, 9:00-11:00

A festive breakfast for all the family with entertainment, games and a visit from Santa himself.

Frozen Tea Party

Cost: £12.50 (Children £10.50)

Where and When: The Grosvenor Café, The Grosvenor Theatre / 21 December, 10:00-14:00

A festive screening of Disney’s Frozen with activities and mystery special guest.

History of Pantomime Exhibition

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Low Parks Museum, Hamilton, ML3 6BJ / 1 December – 25 January, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun Midday-5pm

Look behind you! South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture’s Museum service is hosting a History of Pantomime Exhibition, designed by East Kilbride Rep Theatre, from Monday 1 December until 25 January in Low Parks Museum, Hamilton. There’s something in the Exhibition for every Panto age group to enjoy so come along one and all and learn about the history of pantomime.


Cost: Children £5

Where and When: Lanark Memorial Hall, Motherwell, ML11 7AB / 21-22 December, 11am

Just follow The Bouncing Ball! Join us for a special Sing-Along screening of Frozen and relive the fun-filled journey to banish the freeze in Disney’s magical animation.

December Fun at Heritage Centre in Motherwell

Cost: FREE

Where and When: North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre, Motherwell / 22 November (9:30 am) – 31 January (4:30 pm)

The Heritage Centre’s exhibition looks at the various stories of Cinderella through costumes, pictures, music and film. It explores how the tale was told in literature, music, ballet and theatre. There will be Saturday fun in December with seasonal crafts, dressing up, a mouse-trail and even ‘an impossible task’. During term-time there will be exhibition-themed school workshops and in the lead-up to the Big Day pre-booked nurseries can enjoy a visit to Mr Christmas for £2.00 a child.

World of Wings Santa Experience

Cost: Child £10 – Adult £5

Where and When: World of Wings, Blairlinn Cottages, Cumbernauld / 23 November – 24 December

Santa Experience includes entry to World of Wings – Scotland’s largest birds of prey centre, hot roll and drink, gift from Santa and unlimited centre entry pass for one child for an entire year.

Santa Is Coming To Chatelherault

Cost: Children £6, Adults FREE

Where and When: Chatelherault Country Park, Carlisle Road, Hamilton / 6 December – 24 December (10:30 – 16:30)

Santa is taking some time out of his busy schedule this December to make a special visit to his Winter Wonderland at Chatelherault Country Park! Take a stroll through Santa’s Winter Wonderland, enjoying some Christmas Crafts along the way, before meeting Santa and his Elves. You can even take a seat in Santa’s sleigh which is packed full of presents ready for its around the world trip.

Santa’s Workshop and Exhibition at Summerlee Museum

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Summerlee Museum, Coatbridge / 6-31 December, 11am-3pm

The exhibition and activity zone will be open every day from 10am to 4pm in the upper exhibition hall within the main building. There will be a small display of traditional toys and games from earlier eras, plus hands-on activities including soft play, toys and activities. There will also be Christmas crafts to make such as tree decorations, cards and small gifts. Please note that there’s a small charge for each craft activity, to cover the cost of materials, but all other activities are free. Summerlee’s popular ‘Santa’s Grotto’ will be open each weekend plus 22 to 24 December, between 11am and 3pm. Visits to the grotto cost £6.00 per child, including a tram ride and gift.

Christmas Decoration Workshop

Cost: Children £6, Adults FREE

Where and When: Lanark Memorial Hall / 6 December 2014 – Sun, 28 December 2014
Every weekend in December 10.30 am – 4.30 pm

Suitable for 5 to 12 year old or younger if accompanied by an adult.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Cost: Adult £6, Child/Concession £4

Where and When: Lanark Memorial Hall / 20 December 2pm

Get yourself in the Christmas spirit this festive season by coming along to Lanark Memorial Hall and watching the classic movie the way it was intended – on the big screen. Let us transport you back almost 70 years to a 1946 picture house where you will experience the sound of a Wurlitzer organ, authentic newsreel footage, a classic Christmas cartoon, and the afternoon’s feature, It’s A Wonderful Life.

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The RSNO Christmas Concert: The Snowman

Cost: £5 kids (disabled £5.50–£11.25; under 26s/students/unemployed £6; under 16s £5)

Where and When: Music Hall, Union Street / 18 December, 19:30
A family-friendly concert of carols and seasonal tunes, including the now annual screening of Dianne Jackson’s 1982 film of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman with live musical accompaniment, because nothing spells ‘Christmas’ like a magical fable about the transience of life. Christopher Bell conducts.


Cost: £5-£8

Where and When: The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen / 7-31 December, times vary, see 

Robin is getting all of a flutter, with more Christmas mail than ever before. A new show for everyone aged 3–6.

Aberdeen Ice Rink

Cost: £3, Family £10

Where and When: The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen / 1 December to 5 January, open daily from 12 noon to 8pm

Get your skates on and enjoy some festive sporting action at the ice rink. There are aids for the smaller skaters, in the shape of jolly orange seals.

Nativity Scene

Cost: FREE

Where and When: St Nicholas Kirkyard, Union Street / All day everyday from Monday 1 December until Sunday 4 January

The scene is an important reminder of what the festivities and fun are all about and conveys the wonderful message of Christmas.

Santa Express in the Cairngorms

Cost: £4.50

Where and When: Strathspey Railway / 27 December to 2 January, various times, see
The Strathspey Railway’s Santa Express combines the golden age of steam with the sparkle of Christmas, making it a top seasonal draw, and this year more so than ever.

Christmas Carol Concert

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Duthie Park Winter Gardens / 20 December, 11:00 and 14:00
Come along and sing to favourite carols at the indoor garden, taking in the rare and exotic plants while listening to the accompaniment of music performed by a talented brass band. Join us and the Bon Accord Silver Band and Singers for some festive fun. Space at the concert is limited to 150 people per show, on a first come first served basis.


Emily Mouse’s Christmas Tales

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Dundee Rep, Tay Square / 18-20 December, 11:00 for 0-2 yrs and 13:00 for 3-4 yrs

The new Christmas Tales sessions are a fun FREE event for all babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and their grown-ups. Join Rep Ensemble member Emily Winter and her friend Mouse, who will take children and adults on a journey through songs, rhymes and some specially written stories by children’s author Vivian French.

The Singing Kettle: Big Christmas Party

Cost: FREE

Where and When: Perth Concert Hall (18 miles from Dundee), Mill Street / 30 December 1pm and 4pm, 31 December 11am and 2pm

The Singing Kettle are having their last ever party at one of our venues and you are all invited! Anya, Kevin and Gary will be at their breathtaking best for their spectacular Big Christmas party show. Superb audience participation, amazing costumes and lots and lots of Christmassy fun – this is the perfect treat to get everyone in the festive spirit.

The RSNO Christmas Concert: The Snowman

Cost: £12.50–£16 (disabled £6.25–£8; under 26s/students/unemployed £6)

Where and When: Caird Hall, City Square / 19 December, 7:30pm
A family-friendly concert of carols and seasonal tunes, including the now annual screening of Dianne Jackson’s 1982 film of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman with live musical accompaniment, because nothing spells ‘Christmas’ like a magical fable about the transience of life. Christopher Bell conducts.

Santa’s Grotto

Cost: £5

Where and When: Botanic Gardens, University of Dundee / 20-21 December, 11:00
Spend some time with Father Christmas and receive a special gift! He will be in his grotto between 11am and 4pm every weekend in December.

Meet Santa and the Animals

Cost: Family Ticket for 2 adults & up to 3 children is just £16, Adult £4.50, Child £3.50, Child under 3 years £1.

Where and When: Camperdown Wildlife Centre, Camperdown Country Park, DD2 4TF / 11am to 3pm on the 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st December.
Santa is visiting Camperdown in the lead up to his Christmas Eve deliveries… So remember to bring the whole family along to visit him, as children can give Santa their wish lists and receive a special early Christmas present! This is the perfect festive family day out in Dundee! Combine seeing Santa, with a visit to our amazing animals, add some colour to your day with our face painting, get creative with our fun craft activities, and let our street entertainers add a little Christmas cheer to your day. Mrs Claus will be serving hot drinks and mince pies in the cafe, the perfect winter warmer to heat up after being out in the cold.

Sharon McDougall
Sharon McDougall

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