Insider’s guide to Edinburgh at Christmas

There are few more beautiful or welcoming places in which to celebrate the festive season than Scotland’s capital city. With some of Edinburgh’s top hotels within our collection, we should know – after all, we help to proudly provide that traditional warm welcome and constantly hear our guests marvelling at the city’s uniquely captivating sights. These include the stunning winter views to be had from Calton Hill, situated just moments from Apex Waterloo Place Hotel.

Edinburgh, or ‘Auld Reekie’ as it’s affectionately known to many, is the very essence of ‘olde worlde’ Christmas charm once the decorations go up and this most historic of places provides a collective embrace to all. There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t got to know yet – and we hope that our Edinburgh guide will help to bring them closer to the heart of the city’s winter celebrations.

Of course, the capital is synonymous with world-beating New Year celebrations, but the sparkling Edinburgh Christmas experience is just as special thanks to a wonderful array of seasonal attractions and activities. It’s perfectly gift-wrapped for a romantic break or an exciting family trip.

Edinburgh’s Christmas experience

The city’s official line-up includes shows, markets, rides and free events that jingle all the way, including nativity carol concerts, a giant advent calendar, carousels, balloon rides, and ice skating in St Andrew Square – so why not visit Edinburgh for the full festive experience and unwrap the best that it has to offer?

A great place to start is the Christmas markets on George Street and East Princes Street Gardens, taking place from mid-November. Indeed, the latter offers a very unique shopping experience with its many craft stalls, gift shops and culinary delights available from 10am to 10pm daily, right through to early January.

Not to be outdone, the George Street market is open right up until Christmas Eve, making for an ideal spot of last minute shopping to complement the popular thoroughfare’s high end window displays.

Luxury designer shopping

When it comes to the finest Christmas gifts, the iconic Jenners on Princes Street is a massive draw for many, with no festive trip to the city complete without a visit to at least admire its impressive tree. The celebrated Harvey Nichols meanwhile is four floors of luxury designer shopping in St Andrew Square where visitors often come just for the exceptional views from its top floor restaurant.

Talking of great views, an exciting addition to this year’s Christmas programme is the giant, free-to-access advent calendar projected onto General Register House that will reveal a new image of old Edinburgh every day from 5.30pm till 10pm right up until Christmas Day.

24 Days of Advent

On a similar calendar theme, visitors will have the unique opportunity to enjoy ’24 Days of Advent’ as a host of venues open their doors for one day only at no charge, including Lauriston Castle, BT Murrayfield Stadium, Tynecastle Park, Trinity House and Mansfield Traquair. The amazing full roster of Edinburgh attractions can be found here.

The city’s nativity concert will no doubt be unmissable for those who like their Christmas carols to be sung in spectacular locations. Taking place on Sunday 3 December, this highly-anticipated event will take place at St Andrew Square from 3pm.

Festive attractions for little ones

A standout among festive Edinburgh attractions for little ones this year is set to be a live rendition of Nick Sharratt’s hugely popular, fin-tastic children’s tale, ‘Shark in the Park’, taking place at Festival Square Spiegeltent from December 1 right up until January 6 2018 with tickets from £11. Another fun family event at the same venue is ‘Baby Loves Silent Disco’ where kids and parents get to battle it out for dancefloor supremacy across 90 minutes on December 16 from 1pm, with tickets from £10.

And when you’ve seen the very best of festive Edinburgh, enjoyed the most wonderful city at the most wonderful time of the year, and simply shopped until you’ve dropped, Apex Hotels will help to lighten the load.

At the end of a busy day, our comfortable, well-equipped accommodation will ensure a good night’s sleep and you’ll be refreshed in the morning. The Spa at Waterloo Place will further help you relax amid the Christmas rush, making for a unique experience among Edinburgh hotels.

You may even wake up to some stunning morning views – particularly from Apex Grassmarket Hotel in the Old Town where many rooms overlook Edinburgh Castle.

Providing further festive options for staying in the Lapland of luxury, Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel and Apex Waterloo Place Hotel are within easy walking distance of the city centre’s Christmas delights, while Apex Haymarket Hotel can be found between bustling Princes Street and BT Murrayfield Stadium in the west end.