The best family things to do in Edinburgh over Christmas

The best family things to do in Edinburgh over Christmas

Edinburgh does Christmas beautifully and Christmas time is all about spending time with your loved ones. So what better way to do that, then getting out of the house and enjoying all the Christmas activities and things to do that Edinburgh has to offer?

There are so many things to do and despite the freezing wind and icy temperatures, you don’t want to miss out on them. You can see the Christmas markets, go to the country parks and so much more. You could always go and take the little to Santa when you’re out and enjoying everything that Edinburgh has to offer at Christmas. Have a look at my list of where to meet Santa in Edinburgh this year. There’s something for everyone there. Even breakfast at the Hardrock cafe for dads!

The kids will love all the sparkling and festivities this year and it’s truly a magical time for them. So I’ve rounded up the best options for the whole family to enjoy together in Edinburgh over Christmas. Unfortunately there isn’t an ice rink this year, but hopefully, it’ll return next year again.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

The Edinburgh Christmas Market is one of the best ones in the UK. There are lots of rides for the whole family, stalls to buy food and drinks. Don’t forget all of the German food and Scottish retailers that sell their merchandise. There is also a Santa land at the lower princess street gardens which is filled with rides for the little ones and market aimed at children.

  • When: 16 November – 4 January
  • Times: It opens mid-afternoon until 10 pm most nights
  • Where: It’s located in the city centre, by Princess street
  • Prices: It’s rather expensive, but something you should visit at least once with your family
  • Website
Dalkeith Country Park

They have so much offer at Christmas, it’s great fun for the whole family. If you would like to know more about how they can meet Santa there, have a look at one of my last posts. Besides meeting Santa and seeing his grotto, they also have Christmas workshops for little ones and adults and of course the spectacle of lights. It is one of their highlights this year and one activity you don’t want to miss.

Explore the Fort at night whilst the whole park is illuminated by bright lights, enjoy mulled wine and hot food. There are pixie lanterns, illuminated parasols, giant mirror balls in trees and even a sky maze to enjoy.

  • When: 7 – 8 December / 13 – 15 December / 17 – 23 December / 27 – 31 December / 2 – 5 January
  • Where: Dalkeith Country Park
  • Prices: £9.90 per child, £15.75 per adult, £44.55 per family ticket (2+2) (loyalty cardholder)
  • Prices: £11.00 per child, £17.50 per adult, £49.50 per family ticket (2+2) (non-loyalty cardholder)
  • Website
A Family Enchanted Christmas at Lauriston Castle

One for the history fans amongst us. See how the castle has been beautifully decorated and watch the Edwardian time come to life. There are crafts, an Edwardian magic lantern show, a trail outside the castle, storytelling and of course Santa tales.

  • When: 1 December
  • Where: Lauriston Castle
  • Prices: £8 per person (includes Christmas Nibbles)
  • Website
Christmas at the Botanics

This is one of the most popular events Edinburgh offers over the Christmas period. The Winter Light Trail at the Botanical Gardens is a really popular event every Christmas season. The kids will be mesmerized by all of the lights and decorations and there is even a scented fire garden. There is also the option to see and his elves. And of course, there is hot cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate for you to enjoy on your walk.

  • When: 22 November – 29 December
  • Where: Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Prices: £11 per child (4-16 years) / £17 per adult / £52 per family ticket (2+2) / Children under the ages of 4 & carers go free
  • Website
Children’s Classic Concert: Santa’s Workshop

This is a lovely little story to watch that’s mostly presented in songs, it’s great fun for the kids to watch. It’s about a person who landed his dream job at Santa’s Workshop. But not long into his job everything starts going wrong. Santa gets stuck in the chimneys, the toys come to and not to forget all the present wrapping that’s left to do.

The Concert features many songs from popular Christmas movies and sing-alongs. It’s packed with festive spirit and features dancers from the Manor School of Ballet.

  • When: 8 December
  • Where: Usher Hall
  • Prices: Between £7.50 – £10.50 per child / Between £11.50 – £16.50 per adult / Between £35-45 per family ticket (2+2)
  • Website
Christmas Tree Maze

We might not have big corn mazes in the UK, but Edinburgh has a great Christmas Tree Maze instead. Make your way with the kids through the maze to find Santa’s hidden workshop. If successful the elves might give you a little treat for finding them.

  • When: 16 November – 4 January
  • Where: Santa Land, East Princes Street Gardens
  • Prices: From £4.50
  • Website
A Christmas Fairy Trail

Last but not least a Christmas Fairy Trail. This isn’t directly in Edinburgh it’s about 30 minutes east of the city, at the Archerfield Walled Garden in North Berwick. Nevertheless, I really wanted to include this as it’s something different and magical.

There is a 1.5km enchanted trail and as you make your way around, you will see performances from the woodland creatures, magical light installations and you might even meet some of the creatures and fairies. Let’s not forget the fairy disco, light show, and firepits for some s’mores.

  • When: 6 – 24 December
  • Prices: £11 per child, £15 per adult, £48 per family ticket (2+2) / Under 2’s are free
  • Website

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15 Comments

  1. 21st November 2019 / 2:32 pm

    So many magical places to explore! I’d love to go in the Christmas tree maze

  2. 21st November 2019 / 9:25 am

    I’ve only been to Edinburgh for the fringe festival so I’d love to head back for the Christmas markets x

  3. 20th November 2019 / 7:24 pm

    My friend has just returned from Edinburgh and she’s been telling me all about the wonderful Christmas market

  4. 20th November 2019 / 5:00 pm

    I love Edinburgh – I actually lived there for a year and a half and loved it!! Such a wonderful place to spend Christmas and this list is ace

    Laura x

  5. serin quinn
    19th November 2019 / 11:17 pm

    I’d love to go to Edinburgh over Christmas! That Christmas tree maze would be so fun with the kids!

  6. 19th November 2019 / 10:29 pm

    I just got back from Edinburgh and had a wonderful time! Perhaps next year I’ll visit in December to check out the Christmas market and other fun festive events.

  7. 19th November 2019 / 6:56 pm

    I love Edinburgh and would love to take my two there one day, sounds like there is plenty to do!

  8. 19th November 2019 / 1:03 pm

    I had no idea there were so many festive things to do and see! I know my little ones would absolutely love that Christmas fairy trail and I would love to have a browse around the Christmas market, I have heard its absolutely amazing and perfect for grabbing some lovely gifts too!

  9. 19th November 2019 / 12:51 pm

    We’ve never been to Edinburgh but it looks so magical at Xmas with so many things to do! I love the fairy trail- my girls would go mad for that:)

  10. Rhian Westbury
    19th November 2019 / 7:22 am

    I’ve been to Edinburgh in the Winter but never over Christmas but it’s something I’d love to do one year as the Christmas market is meant to be amazing x

  11. 18th November 2019 / 11:40 pm

    What some absolutely amazing sounding things to do around Edinburgh this Christmas season! There is no way you couldn’t get in the festive mood with all that gong on around you. I have to admit I do love a Christmas market myself.

  12. Rebecca Smith
    18th November 2019 / 10:03 pm

    It sounds like there is plenty to do in Edinburgh this festive season. I really need to find out what is happening local to me.

  13. 18th November 2019 / 7:25 pm

    I’ve only been to Edinburgh once and it was around this time of year so it was really magical! I love the idea of visiting for the Christmas Market though (we were on a uni trip so didn’t get to go to anything to fun!) the christmas tree maze sounds so good too, I wish we had that down south! xx

  14. Brianne Tursi Manz
    18th November 2019 / 4:47 pm

    I hope someday we can travel to Europe right before Christmas, and visit some of the notable Christmas markets like Edinburgh. When I see photos of markets in Europe, I like the mix of old tradition and modern.

  15. 18th November 2019 / 11:56 am

    Great things to do in Edinburgh this Christmas. I love going to Christmas markets.

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