Five ways to keep the Christmas magic alive

Last updated: Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas 2020 is going to look a little different, we all know that.

But judging by the number of amazing light displays and decorations appearing in neighbourhoods across Scotland, people are more determined than ever to keep that Christmas magic alive.

Here are our five ways to create some sparkle, spread some cheer and ignite those warm and fuzzy festive feelings.

1. Support small businesses and local craftspeople

Hands up who else’s Christmas traditions include rounding up some friends, wrapping up in your cosiest coat and taking the train to a Christmas market. An evening wandering around the markets soaking up the amazing smells of mulled wine, bratwurst and spices is always guaranteed to put you in the festive spirit.

As with a lot of things in 2020, Christmas markets have been cancelled and some of our usual festive traditions have had to be put on hold. But even though we can’t physically visit a market this year, a few of them have gone online. So pour yourself a warm glass of Glühwein or hot chocolate, hit play on the festive tunes and enjoy an evening at your very own virtual Christmas market.

Edinburgh's Christmas market
  • Edinburgh’s Christmas
    To support the hundreds of craftspeople that usually attend the market, Edinburgh’s Christmas has gone online this year. So, while you won’t be able to go for a spin on the stomach-churning Star Flyer, you can still support the small businesses that can’t be in their wooden huts this year.
  • Summerhall's Christmas market
    Running until 24 December, the virtual market features 60 hand-picked independent Scottish sellers and makers. You can be sure that you’ll be getting something truly special and unique.
  • Isle 20
    While not technically a Christmas market, we were made aware of by our friends at Calmac and just had to help spread the word. This initiative supports local craftspeople on all the Scottish islands. You can shop by island or by category and there are so many wonderful pieces that would add cheer to someone’s Christmas.

2. A walk to see the Christmas lights

This year has taught us about appreciating the simple things, and one of the cheapest and cheeriest ways to get into the festive spirit is to take a wander around your neighbourhood and enjoy the Christmas lights. Lots of our station staff have decorated their booking offices and travel shops to spread some extra festive cheer to customers.

Lockerbie Christmas decorations

For official Christmas events, take a look at these three in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow:


12 Days of Christmas Sculpture Trail

Don your favourite festive jumper and head out for an evening of Christmas cheer with a sculpture trail around Aberdeen’s city centre. There are twelve striking totem poles to find, all created by local chainsaw carver Garry Shand. Along the way you’ll need to look for clues to help solve the Christmas puzzle. You can download your route map here.


Festive Windows

Dundee City Council* have teamed up with UNESCO City of Design*and V&A Dundee* to create Dundee Festive Windows, an opportunity for designers to create a bespoke, unique window display centred around the ‘Christmas Tree’.

The Festive Windows will be on display in Reform Street, High Street and the Wellgate from 1st December.

If you’re not local to Dundee, you can still enjoy the festive windows online here.


Glasgow’s George Square will look and feel very different this year without the hustle and bustle of the Christmas markets, but there will still be Christmas decorations up for local people to enjoy. Every evening the City Chambers will be lit up with colour wash, Christmas lights and lasers to add some sparkle to the city centre. Plus the traditional tree, crib and lights will be there too.

3. A warming drink and festive snack

Gingerbread men and baubles

Once you’re back inside, something to warm up with is a must. One drink that always transports us to the heart of a Christmas market is the warming aromas of Glühwein, or mulled wine. While we might not be able to enjoy a steaming mug surrounded by crowds of people at the heart of a market, we can recreate the warming aroma and taste at home. Mary Berry has got a wonderful recipe that will help transport you back to Christmas adventures of the past. Of course, if Glühwein isn’t your thing, a steaming mug of hot chocolate does the job too. Go all out with squirty cream, marshmallows and maybe even a mini candy cane for extra sparkle. It is Christmas after all.

The perfect accompaniment to either of these drinks is a gingerbread biscuit. This recipe is so quick and easy to make, and then lots of fun to decorate. We recommend leaving out the bicarbonate of soda if you prefer a crunchier biscuit.

4. Snuggle up and watch a show

While there’s always plenty to watch on the television over Christmas, there are also some great virtual events that support theatre taking place. For a laugh out loud family show, The McDougalls: Virtual Christmas Party on Saturday 19, Sunday 20 and Thursday 24 December at 1pm and 3pm will get everyone feeling festive. You’ll be singing and dancing along before you know it.

If missing out on this year’s pantomime has got you booing and hissing, fret not. You can get your annual fix of ‘he’s behind you’ online at either or .

5. Spread the festive cheer

Christmas jumper - Josie GLC

Christmas is all about giving and spreading festive cheer. This year, more than ever, we’re finding the magic in being kind.

ScotRail’s staff and volunteers have helped out in their communities to look out for each other and to make sure that no one is forgotten about. They're continuing to do this in the lead up to Christmas, collecting toys and supporting food banks to make sure everyone can have some magic this Christmas.

For the whole of December, the ScotRail elves will be wearing their Christmas jumpers out and about on the network to raise funds for MND Scotland. Check out our Twitter for some great Christmas jumpers from the team around the network. We love this one from Josie at the Information Booth in Glasgow Central!

We hope that whatever you get up to this Christmas, you have a good one.

Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2021.