Festive day trip to Edinburgh by Melanie Chadd
Here’s what Scottish travel blogger, Melanie Chadd from Perth, had to say about our nation’s capital when we invited her along to sample Edinburgh’s Christmas...
Last year we didn’t venture in to Edinburgh at all around Christmas and having seen photos I felt that we had missed out. Having dipped our toes in the festivities in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, we decided that we should see exactly what all the fuss is about with a festive day trip to Edinburgh.
Making sure we could cram in as much as possible we caught the 08.50 ScotRail train from Perth to Waverley. Crossing the Forth Rail Bridge was going to be a first for the Dude so I let him sit by the window and during the journey he made comment to the changing scenery - fields, hillside, golf courses and, of course, the sea. As with our previous train journey, we enjoyed the wildlife too.
The ice skating rink is located a short walk away from Waverley station on St Andrew’s Square and the first thing to strike us was that it’s not the usual square rink but more like a doughnut. Very cleverly it encompasses the Melville monument with bridges over the rink to the bar area. As it was still early the rink was quiet and so we were able to find our feet a little before more people came on to the ice. I will admit it brought back a lot of childhood memories of being on my roller boots and although I certainly wasn’t pulling any tricks this time, we laughed at each other (and other people, sorry. Not sorry) and once we were used to it there was no stopping us. Thankfully neither of us ended up flat on the ice and it’s amazing how warm you can get going round.
Reasonably priced from £5 – £8 you get about forty-five minutes and if I’m honest this will be enough time to wear yourselves out. The downside to this attraction was that the boots are not particularly comfortable and myself and others were regularly re-adjusting the straps.
East Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market
Back in the summer when I was working in the city I would often eat my lunch in the gardens and watch the squirrels but for the time being there are few hints of this place. Heaving with colour, noises and so many different smells it really is an assault on the senses. Cleverly split up into different areas it is easy to navigate your way around. Santa Land is full of child and family friendly activities: helter skelter, carousel, Santa train and a Christmas tree maze. The wooden market stall huts are packed with all sorts of goodies from jewellery to dreamcatchers and food, there are plenty of food stalls. Bratwurst, churros, gluhwien, falafel all smelling divine.
Of course the one thing you want to do AFTER eating bratwurst with sauerkraut is go on a ride that takes you in a circular motion, sixty metres above the city! Not necessarily recommended but that’s how we roll. Heights don’t bother me at all but I think the anticipation whilst sitting in our seats waiting for the other thrill seekers to get buckled in was worse. Once up in the air the views are fantastic but we did find it quite difficult to focus on anything because of the initial speed. It does slow down briefly and you do get to enjoy the scenery for a turn and then back to full speed.
I think we were up in the air for about five minutes and that’s more than enough to be going around in circles having just eaten!
There are more sedate ways to get aerial views of the city and that is with the big wheel. Enclosed pods which can seat up to six people travel at a more leisurely pace and you can overlook the market, Princes Street, across to the castle and Arthur’s Seat too. We had waited until it dusk before we went on the Big Wheel because we wanted to see the lights and it was worth waiting for.
Five Guys Named Moe – Festival Square Theatre
Located just on the Lothian Road, Festival Square theatre has popped up! A temporary theatre space where this West End musical is being performed until 7th January. We weren’t quite sure what to expect from the show but once in the theatre it was obvious we would be having fun.
The scene was set as if we, the audience, were in a jazz club (like you see in the movies) with tables on the inner circle of the stage and then rows of seats surrounding the outside.
All the way through the play the music and singing was superb. Tunes such as Choo Choo Ch’boogie and my favourite, I like ’em fat, didn’t fail to get the whole audience head bobbing and foot tapping. What’s not to love about an evening of soul, gospel and blues with a live band and fabulous actors/singers. Lots of humour throughout the story and even some audience participation – how many plays have you been to wear the audience has been led out of the theatre to the bar at the interval by the cast doing a conga? We have and it was brilliant.
I can’t recommend this enough, it really is worth seeing and being a part of.
We crammed so much into our day we couldn’t possibly have fitted anything else in and yet this is just the iceberg for a festive day trip to Edinburgh. There’s still the Street of Light, the Scottish market, 24 doors of advent, an ice wall and of course Santa’s Grotto.
Our 22:40 train back to Perth was absolutely jam packed and not what we expected at that time on a Friday night but maybe it’s just a reflection of how popular Edinburgh’s Christmas is.
Melanie Chadd is a Scottish travel blogger based in Perth. Here is her blog Full Stop Next Chapter
Inspired to travel to Edinburgh this Christmas?