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Free and Cheap Christmas Events for Children, Families, and Individuals in Scotland 2022

Sharon McDougall - Updated - 1st August 2023 - 5 minutes to read

With the Cost of Living crisis starting to bite for many families across Scotland, most of us will be looking for ways of keeping up the festive cheer this Christmas while still keeping a close eye on the budget.

From Christmas markets, through to Christmas caroling, we have rounded up a selection of our favourite festive activities taking place throughout Scotland this Christmas that are guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of the whole family without breaking the bank.


Christmas Markets

When and Where: East Princes Street Gardens (25 November – 3 January)

Cost: Free to enter (attractions vary)

Nothing says Christmas quite like the return of the annual Christmas Markets. Taking over the whole park, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market really does have something for everyone. From those shopping for some last minute Christmas gifts, foodies awaiting their opportunity to sample their next gastronomic delight, through to thrill seekers looking to take in the breath-taking views of the city from the Forth 1 Big Wheel, the markets have you covered.  

Christmas Tree Maze

When and Where: West Princes Street Gardens (29 November – 3 January)

Cost: From £3.50 (babes in arms go free)

Located in Santa Land in West Princes Street Gardens, prepare to get lost in the magical maze of Christmas trees. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, with babies entering the maze for free. Those living within the EH postcode will also get 20% off the entry price.

Winter Windows

When and Where: Across the city (25 November – 3 January)

Cost: Free

The Winter Windows exhibition has become an Edinburgh Christmas tradition, with stained glass windows designed by local schoolchildren creating a festive pathway between the East and West Princes Street Gardens.

Santa Fun Run and Walk

Santa Fun Run

When and Where: West Princes Street Gardens (4 December, 9:30am – 2:00pm)

Cost: Varies according to age, under 2s go free

The annual Santa Run fundraising event is back for another year, taking place on Sunday 4 December. Whether you run, jog, or walk the 2.5km route, don your Santa hat with pride knowing you will be raising money for a great cause while keeping fit too.

Family Silent Disco

When and Where: Ross Bandstand (3 December, 2:00pm – 5:00pm)

Cost: £3.00 per session

Come down to the Ross Bandstand on West Princes Street Gardens, grab a headset, and dance your heart out to your choice of performer. Suitable for the whole family, this is a great way to get your heart rate up as you soak in the festive atmosphere of the city.

Royal British Legion Carol Service

When and Where: Canongate Kirk (11 December, 4.00pm)

Cost: Free

Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by joining the Royal British Legion, along with a live band and choir, in a service of thanks with 90 minutes of lessons and carols. While the event is free, you must prebook a ticket to reserve your spot.


Glasgow Christmas Fairs and Markets

When and Where: St Enoch Square and George Square (18 November – 8 January)

Cost: Free entry (attractions vary)

With two Christmas fairs to enjoy this year, residents and visitors to Glasgow are spoilt for choice. George Square boasts an open air ice rink, a 100ft observation wheel, plus an array of singers, dancers and on-stage performers, while St Enoch Square is the place to be for thrill seekers, with a 20ft ice climbing wall, a 70mph white-knuckle ride, plus smaller attractions for the younger members of the family.

Santa Dash

When and Where: Glasgow Green and Gorbals (11 December, 10am)

Cost: Free to watch

It is once again time to dust off your trainers and dig out your Santa hat for Glashow’s annual 5k Santa Dash. While the date for registering to run the route has now passed, the event is still huge fun for spectators as they cheer on the runners as they take to the streets of the city.

Festive Films for a Fiver

Festive Films

When and Where: IMAX, Glasgow Science Centre (3, 4, 10, and 11 December)

Price: £5

As the name suggests, you can enjoy a classic Christmas film on the big screen for just £5 per person. With festive favourites including “Elf”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and “The Muppet’s Christmas Carol”, this is the perfect way to take shelter from the cold and get cosy with the family.

Winter World Cup Fanzone

When and Where: Candleriggs Square (20 November – 18 December)

Cost: Free

Christmas isn’t just for children, and with the World Cup making a rare appearance in winter this year, Candleriggs Square is offering the grown up members of the family the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere along with fellow supporters and an array of tempting food and drink. A Christmas tree centrepiece will bring the festive atmosphere, while the big screens, fire pits, and festive menu will make this the best place in the city to watch the World Cup unfold.

Light Up The Gorbals

When and Where: New Gorbals Housing Association (2 December, 4:30pm)

Cost: Free

If you missed the Glasgow Christmas Lights Switch On, be sure to put a note in your diary for the Gorbals Christmas tree switch on. With a brass band and live musical performances before the tree is lit up, this is a must for locals looking to kick start the festive season.

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Aberdeen Christmas Village

When and Where: City Centre (17 November – 31 December)

Cost: Free (prices for activities vary)

Returning for another year, Aberdeen’s Christmas Village has something for the whole family. Enjoy a spin on the outdoor ice rink, sample some culinary delights from the array of street food vendors, or pick up some unique gifts for the whole family at the market. Those seeking an adrenaline boost can test their nerves on the Fast & Furious ride, while younger visitors can enjoy a bounce on the bungee trampolines or take a walk through the Fun House. No matter what you are looking for, a trip to the Christmas Village is the perfect way to kick start your festive activities.

Nativity Scene

When and Where: St Nicholas Kirkyard (from 28 November)

Cost: Free

No family trip to Aberdeen is complete without a visit to the city’s Nativity Scene which has once again taken up residence in St Nicholas Kirkyard. After the blessing event on 28 November, the scene will remain in situ throughout the festive period providing an important reminder about the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Trail

When and Where: Various locations across the City (1 – 24 December)

Cost: Free

The popular Christmas Trail is returning to Aberdeen this Christmas, with twelve wooden sculptures being dotted across the city centre in a variety of locations with this year’s theme being  the Hunt for the Lost Toys. Can you find them all?!

Christmas Carol Concert

Christmas Carol Concert

When and Where: David Welch Winter Gardens (17 December, 11am, 12:15pm, and 3pm)

Cost: Free

Warm up your vocal chords for the return of the city’s Christmas Carol Concert. The Bon Accord Silver Band will be joined by the Capriccio choir to put on a festive performance of your favourite Christmas carols. The event is free for all to enjoy although spaces are limited to 200 people per session so make sure you get there in plenty of time to secure your spot.


Christmas in City Square

When and Where: City Square (1 – 24 December)

Cost Free

This festive season, Dundee’s City Square will be transformed into the centrepiece of Dundee’s Christmas festivities. From curling lanes, an Instagram worthy 3D Christmas Card, and a light maze, through to illuminated Wishing Fountains, City Square is set to be the place to be this December. Live music will take place on Thursdays and Sundays, an activity tent will house a range of family-friendly craft and workshops, and there will be a special appearance from Pingoo which the younger members of the family are sure to enjoy.

WinterFest Christmas Market

When and Where: Slessor Gardens (19 November – 1 January)

Cost: Free (attractions vary)

Dundee’s WinterFest Christmas Market should be at the top of your to-do list in the city this festive season. As well as an outdoor ice rink, there is also a vintage funfair and a traditional European tavern, making the Market the perfect day out for adults and children alike. While booking for the ice rink is not necessary, it is advisable to prevent you having to queue to get your skates on the ice.

Santa Dash

When and Where: City Square (4 December)

Cost: Free to watch

Over 1,000 “Santas” are expected to take part in this year’s festive run around the City. Although it is too late for you to enter the event, you can still be part of the action by turning up to cheer on the walkers, joggers, and runners as they make their way around the 2km route. Money raised from the event will be going to the Dundee Bairns Fun & Food Programme, benefitting children across Aberdeen.

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Sharon McDougall


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