With presents to buy, stocking the cupboards for the family Christmas dinner, not to mention the flurry of festive social events with friends, family, and colleagues alike, the festive season can be an expensive time. However, it is possible to enjoy all this time of year has to offer without spending a fortune. Here are a few ideas to help you cut the cost, but not the cheer this Christmas.
24 Doors of Advent
When and Where: Across the city, 1 – 24 December 2017
With a new location to explore every day, Edinburgh’s annual 24 Doors of Advent really is an event which can keep you and the family entertained right the way through December. From McEwan Hall, to the BT Murrayfield Stadium, and even The Scottish Parliament, this event gives you the chance to explore buildings in the city which are ordinarily closed to the general public.
When and Where: East Princes Street Gardens (18 November – 6 January) and George Street (17 November – 24 December)
There is nothing like a walk through the Christmas markets to really get you in the festive spirit. With a range of crafts and trinkets for sale, you can do any last minute Christmas shopping or simply enjoy a warming glass of mulled wine.
When and Where: Princes Street Gardens, 18 November – 6 January
Cost: Attractions vary
Santa Land promises great fun for all the family. With a range of family-friendly rides, a Christmas tree maze, a Santa Train, and even an ice wall to be scaled, there is plenty going on to keep the little ones entertained all afternoon.
When and Where: Across the city, 18 November – 26 December
In an annual tradition, Edinburgh’s Winter Windows is back for another year. Spread out across five locations throughout the city, each window has been designed by pupils from local school’s all embodying the theme of the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision.
When and Where: George Street, 18 November – 24 December
Cost: From £8
Children will not want to miss the chance to visit Santa in person, tell him their Christmas wishes, and receive a small gift. Tickets must be bought in advance.
When and Where: St Andrew’s Square, 26 November – 6 January
Cost: From £5
Each session allows for a 45 minutes skate around the Melville Monument in St Andrew’s Square. Although photographs cannot be taken by those on the ice, there is plenty of room for spectators to snap away. Skate hire is included in the price.
The Ice Adventure
When and Where: George Street, 26 November – 24 December
Cost: From £7
This walk through piece of installation art takes you on a journey through frozen Scotland. Filled with spectacular ice and snow sculptures, and even an ice bar, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. With temperatures plummeting to -10 C, make sure you wrap up warm before entering.
Nativity Carol Concert
When and Where: St Andrew’s Square, December 3, 3.00pm
Gather round the nativity scene in St Andrew’s Square to enjoy traditional carols sung by the Exile Gospel Choir accompanied by musicians and The Edinburgh Signing Choir.
When and Where: George Square & St Enoch, 9 November – 29 December
The Christmas Markets return once more to George Square and St Enoch, with a wide selection of gifts, crafts, and food on offer. The entertainment on offer includes a giant Big Wheel and a carousel for all the family to enjoy. The St Enoch Christmas Market is open until 22nd December, with the one at George Square remaining open until 29th December.
Blessing of the Crib
When and Where: George Square, 6 December, 6.30pm
This free event is a mainstay in Glasgow’s festive calendar. Gather underneath the Christmas lights in George Square and be entertained by a choir singing traditional Christmas carols. Attended by the Lord Provost of Glasgow, this popular event is sure to put you in the festive spirit.
When and Where: George Square, 10 December, 9.30am.
Cost: £15 to run; Free to watch
The annual 5k Santa Dash will once again see the streets of Glasgow taken over by a crowd of runners in Santa suits. Whether you are running or cheering on from the side-lines, this is a much-loved event in Glasgow’s social calendar and is one not to be missed.
Baby’s First Christmas
When and Where: Glasgow City Chambers, 2 December
Celebrate your new-borns first Christmas with this popular event. Baby’s will have their picture taken with the Lord Provost before receiving a silver trinket to take away to mark the occasion. Registration for this event is vital as the invites are given on a first come first served basis.
Helensburgh Winter Festival
When and Where: Helensburgh, 2 – 3 December
This free event takes place over the first weekend in December. With an ice rink, Santa’s grotto, and 100 stalls of crafts, food, and art, there really is something for the whole family to enjoy. Running until 4pm on both days, the activities start at 10am on Saturday and midday on Sunday.
Reindeer at Holmwood House
When and Where: Holmwood House, 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th December
Cost: £6 for children; £4 for adults
Santa is returning to Holmwood House, and he is bringing his reindeer with him! With sing-a-longs, a craft room, and tasty food for sale, there is enough to keep the whole family entertained all afternoon. The entry price includes a gift from Santa himself.
Riverside Christmas Festival
When and Where: Riverside Museum, 2 – 3 December
This annual Christmas event provides a weekend of completely free entertainment. There will be a traditional fairground full of family friendly rides and carousels which are free for the whole family to enjoy. There is also a Christmas Market where you can pick up a range of unique crafts and trinkets, before taking a trip to see Santa in The Tall Ship Grotto. With over 20,000 visitors last year, this year’s event is shaping up to be a highlight of the festive calendar.
Christmas at the GFT
When and Where: Glasgow Film Theatre, throughout December
Cost: £5.50 per ticket
Throughout the month of December the Glasgow Film Theatre is showing re-runs of a host of Christmas films. With favourites such as Elf, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Scrooged being shown, this is the perfect way to get in the festive spirit.
Ricky McWhittington – A Traditional Glasgow Pantomime
When and Where: Various venues across the city, 28 November – 16 December
Cost: £2.50 – £5.00 per ticket
With a sweet shop in downtown Glasgow swarmed by a plague of rats, can anyone save the day? Ricky McWhittington is a unique pantomime full of songs, laughter and festive cheer. The show is touring around various community centres around the city from the 28th November and is a great value day out.
Aberdeen Christmas Village
When and Where: Broad Street , 17 November – 31 December
Cost: Free to enter (prices for activities vary)
Featuring an open air ice rink and a fairground rides which will entertain the little ones and also satisfy thrill seekers, Aberdeen’s Christmas Village has something for everyone this year. With a selection of food and drink available to purchase, you can stay here all day and fully soak up the festive atmosphere.
Duthie Park Winter Gardens Carol Concert
When and Where: Duthie Park, 16 December, 11am and 2pm,
Traditional carols will be sung in the beautiful Duthie Park by the Capriccio Choir from Albyn School, accompanied by the Bon Accord Silver Band. Places are limited for both performances so make sure you get down there early to secure your attendance.
Twelve Days of Christmas Wooden Carvings Trail
When and Where: Across the city centre, 1 – 24 December
Twelve carved totem poles will be located across the city, each representing one of the days from the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. Can you find them all? If you get stuck, a map has been produced showing the location of each sculpture.
When and Where: St Nicholas Kirkyard, 4 December – 5 January
The crib at St Nicholas Kirkyard will be officially blessed at 11am on 4th December and from then on the nativity scene will be available to viewing daily until the New Year. This is a chance to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.
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