Festive fun all over Scotland this winter
It’s almost the season for winter wonderlands, ice rinks, mulled wine, and lights galore.
If you’re looking for some last-minute gifts, brush up those rusty ice-dance routines, or just want to relax and soak up the festive spirit – there is plenty on offer. ScotRail connects you with the festivities in Scotland’s cities and beyond. Here’s our pick of the best events for this winter.
Get your skates on in Edinburgh
Few places celebrate Christmas better than Edinburgh — 2017 will be no different. The traditional Christmas markets will line East Princes Street Gardens and George Street from 18 November. There you’ll find stalls stacked with artisan gifts, tasty treats, and mulled drinks. Open from 10am to 10pm every day.
Check out the brand new giant advent calendar, projected onto General Register House. A new snapshot of Edinburgh winters from years gone-by will be revealed each day. Sadly, there are no giant chocolates on offer.
Glide around Melville Monument with the circular ice rink in St Andrew Square – the perfect way to enjoy the sparkling lights and crisp weather, with tickets from just £5.
Catch a show in Glasgow
There will be two Christmas markets in Glasgow city centre this year. Find unique crafts, street food, and fun in St Enoch Square and George Square from 9 and 25 November respectively. The ceremonial switching on of lights happens in George Square on Sunday 19 November – tickets are limited and always get snapped up quickly, but even without tickets you can get a great view of the illuminations from the surrounding streets.
Tired of shopping? Treat yourself to a show. Glasgow is spoiled for choice when it comes to venues, and plenty of festive performances don’t involve shouting ‘it’s behind you’. Try the satirical Alice in Weegieland at the Tron Theatre (throughout December), or get into the spirit early with a production of A Christmas Carol at the King’s Theatre (14-18 Nov) – a perfect start to the festive season.
Fancy a festive work-out? Don your fancy dress and join the Santa Dash on Sunday 10 December – a festive charity 5K which turns the city streets into a sea of Santa suits.
See Christmas trees galore in Pitlochry
On Saturday 2 December, the town of Pitlochry transforms into a winter wonderland with fun for all ages. You’ll find festive stalls, mini highland games, pipe bands and choirs, special one-day deals in shops and, most tempting of all, a winter barbeque.
The fourth annual Christmas Trees Festival takes place at Pitlochry Church of Scotland — there’s also the switching on of the Christmas tree lights. Between these festivities, sample the best of the town’s independent shops and restaurants serving traditional Scottish food.
Warm yourself up in Oban
Get yourself into the spirit nice and early with the Oban Winter Festival, which runs from 17-26 November. The best of the action happens on Saturday 18 November, when the town’s Christmas lights are switched on. There will be markets full of treats at Perle Hotel and the Oban Distillery, while the streets are full of festive atmosphere.
There will also be festive ballet performances, the Grand Ceilidh with the Oban Pipe Band, and much more to be enjoyed over the week. The Haggis Festival, where you can taste some of the finest haggis in Scotland, ties a bow around festivities on 26 November.
Get crafty in Perth
Perth Winter Festival hosts events right through November and December, with a little something for everyone. The main event is the switching on of the city lights on 3 December at the Black Watch Museum. There will be carol singing, storytelling in the museum, crafts, cookies, and more. You can also get hands-on with the museum’s wreath making workshops on 10 December.
Get in some shopping at Perth Farmer’s Market on 16 December; almost 50 stalls selling the finest in fresh and artisan produce, local seafood, sweet treats, wine and spirits of the highest quality.
Enjoy some carol singing at Scone Palace on 7 December, with a performance by the Fair City Singers – a group of 80 choristers from across Perthshire. They’ll be delivering fresh takes on traditional carols and Christmas favourites – all to be enjoyed with a mince pie and a glass of fizz.
Be dazzled in Irvine
From 30 November to 3 December is Illumination: Irvine Harbour’s Festival of Light, when the town’s historic waterfront will come to life with incredible light shows, firework displays, and daring aerial acrobatics.
The light and aerial art spectacular includes a fire show at the Linthouse, lit-up vessels at the boating bond and the illuminated story of shipbuilding. Inside the former shipyard building, acrobatics troupe Spinal Chord perform gravity-defying displays.
There’s a food market happening by the Harbourside with over 40 stands, the ideal place to refuel with snacks and drinks. There will also be whisky tastings, skiff racing, and more over the weekend.
Most of the events are free, but you will need a ticket for the Light and Aerial Art Spectacular.