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FREE and Cheap Christmas Events for Children and Families in Scotland 2016

  • Sharon McDougall -
  • 7th December 2016 -
  • 10 minutes to read

Click here for our 2018 Christmas Events in Scotland

Christmas is a notoriously expensive time of the year. However there are ways for you to cut the expense without cutting the fun. Here’s what you and your family can enjoy in Scotland’s four biggest cities in the run up to Christmas without breaking the bank:


24 Doors of Advent

When and Where: 1st – 24th Dec, Across the city

Cost: Free

24 Doors of Advent returns for another year, allowing you to peep behind usually closed doors throughout the city during advent. This completely free event opens many new doors for you to explore what’s behind them including Royal Lyceum Theatre, the Chapel of St Albert the Great & BT Murrayfield Stadium.

European Christmas Market

When and Where: 19th Nov – 7th Jan, East Princes St Gardens

Cost: Free

The European Christmas Market will once again return for a whole host of bespoke and traditional Christmas items! Located in the heart of the City of Edinburgh, the Market offers a unique shopping experience for every visitor with a selection of crafters, artists, gift shops and gastronomic delights. Ideal for getting you into the Christmas spirit!

Light Night

When and Where: 20th Nov, City centre

Cost: Free

Light Night is an event which encapsulates the true spirit of the festive season: family and the community. Choirs from across Scotland will perform in front of an expected audience of around 20,000 people. This year the Street of Light at the west end of George Street will make its first appearance as part of Light Night and the acts will perform on a stage under its lights. The Christmas Tree on the Mound, a gift to the City of Edinburgh Council from Hordaland County Council in Norway, will be lit as part of the Light Night switch-on.

Street of Light

When and Where: 20th Nov – 24th Dec, George Street

Cost: Free
The stunning Street of Light is back for Edinburgh’s Christmas 2016 in a new location on the west end of George Street. The Street of Light opens on 20 November as part of Light Night, then runs from 21 November – 24 December. With over 60,000 beautiful bulbs of light alongside synchronised music from local choirs and bands, contemporary fiddle music and Scotland’s very own bhangra group.

The Scottish Market

When and Where: 26th Nov – 24th Dec, George Street

Cost: Free

Our Scottish Market in West George St is a winter showcase of some of the best craft, food and drink that Scotland has to offer. The treats available will include locally produced goods.

Winter Windows

When and Where: 19th Nov – 7th Jan, East Princes Street Gardens

Cost: Free

Come and see Edinburgh’s Winter Windows! Designed by pupils from schools throughout Edinburgh, the windows form a magical pathway to Santa Land. Each window is designed by a budding young artist from a local school!


When and Where: 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

Cost: £3.50

A merry-go-round providing fun for the whole family! Please note – children less than 1m tall must be accompanied by an adult, who rides for free.

Christmas Tree Maze

When and Where: 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

Cost: from £3.50

Prepare to get lost in the magical Christmas Tree Maze! Inside you’ll also discover the Elves’ workshop, where Santa’s little helpers will be waiting for you with a little treat. An event suitable for children and adults alike.

Ice Skating

When and Where: 18th November – 7th January, St Andrews Square

Cost: from £5.00

Get your skates on and glide all the way round the Melville Monument on this circular ice rink in St Andrew Square. We provide double-bladed skates for the tiniest of feet, as well as skating aids for younger children at an additional cost when you arrive. Children under 11 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Santa Train

When and Where: 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

Cost: from £4.00

Board the train at Santa’s station and then it’s all aboard for an exciting ride around Santa Land. Look up to the Castle, the tree on the Mound, the Big Wheel, the huts and the Ice Rink on the Terrace, and wave to the crowds as Santa sounds the bell.


Glasgow Christmas Market

When and Where: 10 November – 26 December, George Square and St. Enoch Centre

Cost: Free

The annual Glasgow Christmas Market returns to locations at both George Square and St Enoch Centre this year. The Grand Opening of the Glasgow Christmas Market shall be on 10th November 12pm (St Enoch Centre) and 26th November (George Square) ready for all to feast on a very continental lunch to kick off the arrival of the Christmas Market! There is also continental beers and mulled wine for the adults.

Art On the Exchange Festive Markets

When and Where: 19 November – 23 December, Royal Exchange Square

Cost: Free

Art On Scotland invites you to visit their festive market, Art On the Exchange, in Royal Exchange Square. There will be free music and an array of wares to buy from local maker, artists and designers.

Santa’s Enchanted Village

When and Where: 20 November – 24 December, Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

Cost: £6.50 – £9.50

Take a magical adventure into Rudolph’s Den to meet the elves, see Santa’s special little helpers, his real life owls and admire the bright twinkling lights which will lead you to meet Santa in his log cabin. Afterwards head out onto the woodland path to spot the reindeers and maybe even an elf!

The Night After Christmas

When and Where: 29 November – 07 January, Tron Theatre

Cost: £6 – £8

The Tron Theatre Company presents ‘The Night After Christmas’ a festive family show for 3 to 6 year olds!

Baby’s First Christmas

When and Where: 3 December, City Chambers

Cost: Free, however you must register in advance

Celebrate Baby’s First Christmas with a personalised certificate and keepsake memento from the Lord Provost of Glasgow. This ever popular traditional event sees 100s of Glasgow’s new-borns invited to the City Chambers for a Baby’s First Christmas celebration. All babies will receive a limited edition silver trinket to mark the occasion giving families a memento to treasure for years to come. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Glasgow’s youngest children and an experience for their families to cherish forever.

Return of the Reindeer

When and Where: 3 December, Holmwood House

Cost: £4.50 – £6.50

The Ayrshire Reindeers and Santa return to Holmwood House for four days of festivities this December! Come along to Holmwood in December for a chance to sit on Santa’s knee. There will also be the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals, something which both adults and children will enjoy! A word of warning – the reindeers will be stationed outside, so be sure to wrap up warm!

Starlight, Starbright!

When and Where: 3th – 30th December, The Old Sheriff Court

Cost: £7.50

Make your way to Scottish Youth Theatre this Christmas to meet Peggy the Polar Bear in this festive show for kids! Starlight, Starbright tells the story of Peggy the Polar Bear who lives in the Arctic Circle. Tired of her chilly surroundings she sets off on a journey to find a warmer home.
As her travels take her from place to place, with only the Northern Star as her companion, will she find a new home or will her adventure reveal something much more exciting? The show is aimed at 3 – 7 years and is interactive so little ones will remain entertained and engaged the whole way through.

Tree Dressing Day & Decorations

When and Where: 4th December, Pollok Country Park

Cost: Free

Join the Glasgow Countryside Rangers, create your own artwork to dress your trees & make them really stand out! It’s not just a Christmas tradition. Tree dressing Week is an opportunity to really appreciate trees which are often taken for granted. Come along, hear stories and create your own artwork to dress your trees & make them stand out.

Christmas Grotto Stories

When and Where: 7th December, Pollokshaws Library, Glasgow South Side

Cost: Free

Get in the Christmas spirit and relax with stories, songs and rhymes with a wintery feel… fun for all the family!

C7’s A Christmas Carol (Live Performance)

When and Where: 11th and 18th December, C7 Church Glasgow

Cost: Free

C7 presents our Christmas Spectacular for 2016: A Christmas Carol. Reworking the much-loved Christmas classic by Charles Dickens and bringing it to life on stage. This is a show which encapsulates the true spirit of the festive season.

Winter Community Event Around The Fire

When and Where: 18 December, The Childrens Wood

Cost: Free

Come along to The Children’s Wood on Sunday 18th December for some storytelling by the fire! Bring a chair – and a friend!

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Santa’s Grotto

When and Where: 3 Dec 2016, The Gordon Highlanders Museum

Cost: £7

Meet Santa Claus in our Christmas Grotto and tell him all about what you are hoping for this Christmas. Santa will have his large sack of gifts at the ready, so you will receive a surprise early Christmas present. While you wait to meet Santa you can take part in a range of Christmassy crafts including decoration making, colouring, and letter writing ready for Santa.

Twelve Days of Christmas Wooden Carvings Trail

When and Where: 24th Nov – 27th Dec, 12 various locations across the city

Cost: Free

Local chainsaw wood carver, Garry Shand has been commissioned to create 12 unique wooden totem pole sculptures based on the theme of the popular carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. Located across the city centre, this mini-trail is sure to be a popular challenge for all ages. Can you find them all?

Aberdeen’s Christmas Tree Maze

When and Where: 25th Nov – 31st Dec, Union Terrace Gardens

Cost: £4

Prepare to get lost in our own magical Christmas Tree Maze. When you enter the maze, pick up a word card and collect stamps on your way around the maze, which when completed spells a festive word. Ticket holders will eventually find their way to the elf hut and after you hand in your completed word card you’ll be rewarded with a pouch of treasure. This is a joy for adults and children alike.

Aberdeen Christmas Village

When and Where: 25th Nov – Jan 8th, Union Terrace

Cost: Free

This year the Christmas Village includes a larger open-air ice, a range of market stalls, plus fairground rides and an entertainment marquee! You will also be entertained with live music and comedy.

Christmas Fair at Aden Country Park 

When and Where: 4th Dec, Aden Country Park

Cost: Free (£5 to visit Santa’s Grotto)

The Christmas Fair at Aden Country Park has a fantastic range of local crafters and food producers; there will also be a Santa’s grotto, face painting and traditional Christmas music, along with a selection of delicious winter warming food and hot drinks.
Other activities on offer this year include an opportunity to help our feathered friends over the winter months by building a bird feeder with the Buchan Countryside Ranger.

Carol Concerts

When and Where: 17th Dec, 2016, David Welch Winter Gardens

Cost: Free (donations gratefully appreciated)

Come along and join in singing all your favourite carols to the accompaniment of the Bon Accord Silver Band and singers. The event is free, although donations will be gratefully received towards a food bank collection.

Ice Aberdeen Presents Once Upon a Christmas 

When and Where: 17th – 18th Dec, Linx Ice Arena

Cost: £13 / £10

Join Charlie as he skates against time to save Christmas from the evil Blizzard! Featuring Aberdeen’s Learn to Skate members, local and national winning skaters, plus British Champions Team Zariba and the Lynx Junior Ice hockey team.


The Dundee Ethical and Scottish Christmas Fair

When and Where: 3rd – 18th December, Dundee City Square

Cost: Free

The Fair takes place in sheltered and secured surrounds of a giant warm and welcoming decorated marquee in the heart of Dundee City Square. The giant marquee will be filled with beautiful crafted Scottish gifts as well as fair trade and ethically made and or sourced gifts from around the world. Join the Fair for its 10th anniversary which brings promises a wider selection of gifts than ever before.


When and Where: 16th – 24th December, Dundee Rep Theatre

Cost: £7

From the makers of Too Many Penguins? comes a new show for those aged 3 to 6 (and their grown-ups!) This Christmas, Robin (not so reliant) will be getting his feathers in a twist, but guaranteed first class fun and seasonal cheer will be delivered (on time)!

Sharon McDougall
Sharon McDougall

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