Have Yourself A Red Christmas in Scotland

By: Maxine Sheppard

November 28, 2013

The Scots certainly know a thing or too about throwing a good celebration, so make sure you don’t miss out on all the festive events north of the border…


Fairground attractions

The theme of this year’s Edinburgh’s Christmas festival is the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ and there’s a packed calendar of happenings planned from now until 5 January. But most of all we’re looking forward to taking a spin on all the Christmassy, twinkling fairground rides, beginning with the relatively tame traditional carousels (a single-tiered carousel in St Andrew Square, or the double-tiered one in East Princes Street), then moving on to the observational 36-pod Big Wheel, and finally braving the wind chill on the thrilling 60-metre high Star Flyer overlooking the rooftops of the city! Book online in advance for a 10% discount.

Edinburgh's amazing Star Flyer © copyright 2013 Underbelly Limited .jpg

Edinburgh’s amazing Star Flyer © copyright 2013 Underbelly Limited

Spiegel Dining & LIMBO

This year, in collaboration with the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, Edinburgh’s Christmas presents Spiegel Dining & LIMBO; an alternative Christmas night out in the Paradiso Spiegeltent in the heart of Edinburgh. Expect to feast on local delicacies such as whisky-smoked salmon bundles and Gartmorn farm-reared turkey breast, while admiring the fire-breathing circus skills and brain-bending illusions of this highly-acclaimed cabaret show.


There’s no better New Year’s celebration in the world than Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, so make your plans now to join another 80,000 revellers beneath the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh castle, and see in 2014 in true Scottish style. The street party itself features live music, 12 giant screens and no less than three separate fireworks displays in the lead-up to the ear-shattering midnight spectacular – with a somewhat more sedate Candlelit Concert taking place earlier in the evening at St. Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile, for those of a slightly less hardy disposition.

Hogmanay fireworks over Edinburgh © Robbie Shade.jpg

Hogmanay fireworks over Edinburgh © Robbie Shade


Christmas Lights, Santa Parade and Carol Concert

On 24 November Aberdeen’s city centre will be transformed into a glittering winter wonderland, festooned with magical lights and decorations, as floats and festive characters make their way down Union Street to a pipe band accompaniment. Then at midday on Sunday 1 December, the young and the young-at-heart will get the opportunity to wave hello to Santa Claus as he makes his way from Castlegate to Trinity Shopping Centre in his sleigh, carried along by all his favourite reindeer. A couple of weeks later on Saturday 21st, the popular annual Christmas carol concert will be held in the David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park to really put you in the mood for Christmas week.

Ballater Winter Festival

The lovely Aberdeenshire village of Ballater will once again be hosting its Winter Festival, scheduled to take place over the weekend of 30 November and 1 December, with plenty of festivities to keep the whole family entertained. There’ll be an ice rink on both days, along with Santa’s Grotto, a giant hog roast, and the all-important Christmas light switch-on to the accompaniment of the traditional Ballater Pipe Band.

Banchory Festive Farmers Market

Eighteen miles southwest of Aberdeen city centre, the historic market town of Banchory is known as the Gateway to Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park, and on Saturday 21 December its annual Festive Farmers Market returns to Scott Skinner Square. Here you can stock up on all kinds of festive goodies for your perfect Scottish Christmas, from local cheeses and hand-made chocolates to pork pies and jars of preserves.

Header photo: Edinburgh’s Christmas lights © photojenni on Flickr.




Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

Categories: Our Places