Scotland: The place to be at Christmas

As temperatures drop and the nights grow darker, Scotland’s towns and cities spring into life with markets, parties, and concerts. Here, we take a look at the holiday festivals which make Scotland an ideal Winter destination:

1.The Torchlight Procession

Every year between Christmas and New Year, Scotland’s capital is illuminated by the flames of torchbearers walking the length of its most historic street.

From Edinburgh Castle at its summit to Holyrood Palace at its foot, thirty thousand participants – including torchbearers, pipe bands, spectators, and traditional Viking associations – parade along the Royal Mile, marking the end of the year with a spectacular display of light and music.

2. Hogmanay Street Party, Edinburgh

Recently listed by The Discovery Channel as one of the ‘Top 25 World Travel Experiences’, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party consistently attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.

The event coincides with The Concert in the Gardens – a showcase of musical talent in Princes Street Gardens – and saw 70,000 people descend into Edinburgh’s streets to celebrate the arrival of 2017. As the clock strikes midnight, those in the gardens and in the streets are treated to a firework display from the historic Edinburgh Castle.

3. Glasgow Loves Christmas

As well as Glasgow’s extended European-style Christmas markets, Scotland’s largest city is home to a number of unique festive traditions. To celebrate December’s arrival, Glasgow’s Style Mile – a popular shopping district in the city centre adorned with Christmas lights – plays host to the Style Mile Carnival, a one-off procession of music-playing, costume-wearing festive characters through the city’s streets.

In addition, each year visitors and residents are openly invited to attend the Blessing of the Crib in George Square, a ceremony designed to mark the beginning of the season of Advent which sees the city’s Lord Provost joined by a chorus of singers underneath the Christmas lights.

4. Red Hot Highland Fling, Inverness

Further north, the city of Inverness offers an open invitation to the Red Hot Highland Fling – the ‘largest free Hogmanay Party in Scotland’.

Last year, 10,000 people gathered to celebrate the New Year, accompanied by some of the country’s most successful Celtic and Folk artists. As in Edinburgh, the night culminates with an impressive firework display, and provides the opportunity for visitors to try local food and drink.

5. Oban Winter Festival

Far removed from the urban settlements of the central belt, the picturesque seaside town of Oban is home to the Oban Winter Festival, an award-winning celebration of local and national culture which takes place in the last two weeks of November.

A huge variety of events are organised for residents and visitors, including a Victorian market, Ceilidhs (Scottish country dancing), storytelling, and whisky tasting.


Image: Robbie Shade/ Wikimedia Commons – Fireworks on Hogamany from Calton Hill, Edinburgh.