The ultimate Christmas surprise: Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar

4th Dec 2017

The ultimate Christmas surprise: Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar

1-24 December, General Register House

Stunning animations of Edinburgh winters past surprise passers-by as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas.

Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar, a brand new free attraction created by Underbelly and Double Take Projections, will be projected onto General Register House each evening from 1 December, revealing one exciting glimpse into Edinburgh’s winter history every day.  

These surprise projections will animate General Register House, home of National Records of Scotland, for up to 10 minutes at random times each hour, offering an entertaining take on history for passers-by to enjoy. For those who miss the Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar animation in the evening it will be available in full on Edinburgh’s Christmas website and on social media channels the next day.


To create Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar vast archives dating back to the 1700s, supplied by partners Historic Environment Scotland, National Records of Scotland and National Library of Scotland, were pored over by Double Take Projection’s Director, Steven McConnachie.

With the oldest images from 1780, Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar charts some of the key moments in the city’s history, including the building of the Scott Monument, opening of the Scottish Parliament buildings and the ascent of the first air balloon in the UK! With all events set in winter, the projections also celebrate great Scottish traditions such as the Loony Dook as well as international ones such as the 12 Days of Yule or decorating of Christmas trees.

Presented to a soundscape reflecting the year, the Giant Advent Calendar supports the end of 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Steven McConnachie, Director of Double Take Projections said: “Many are familiar with Edinburgh's rich history and folklore, renowned architecture and classical beauty. Although every nook and cranny has a story to tell, some stories are told more than others. Using imagery sourced from Edinburgh's archives, this projection mapping show presents Edinburgh's Giant Advent Calendar, telling stories of Edinburgh's past, using the facade of this iconic Edinburgh landmark as its canvas. We are thrilled to be involved with this project and share Edinburgh's memories this Christmas.'

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly said: “As we reach the end of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology we wanted to share some of Scotland’s fascinating winter history on an iconic and spectacular building which houses Scotland’s national records. Passers-by every evening will be treated to a Christmas treat with a glimpse of winters gone-by.”

Tim Ellis, Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland, said: “Every year thousands of people come to General Register House to search our records and find out more about their families and about Scotland’s people and history. We’re delighted to share our building for Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar and give people a glimpse of just some of the treasures we hold.”

Neil Gregory, Deputy Head of Engagement at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Our archive ranges from historic photographs and architects’ drawings to archaeological surveys, giving a unique view of Scotland’s historic environment. We also provide digital access to over 390,000 photos, moving images and sounds from museums, galleries, archives and the media through SCRAN, our online learning service.


“We’re thrilled to have this opportunity for some of the gems of these collections to be part of Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar, and I hope that this display will inspire people to discover more about the fantastic resources we hold.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar really will open a door to the nation’s archives this winter. Spanning more than 230 years of everyday family life and key moments in time, from decorating the Christmas tree to constructing the Scott Monument, these projections of bygone Edinburgh will shine a light on Scotland’s vast archives. In person or online, anyone can enjoy counting down to Christmas and charting the nation’s history with us at General Register House this winter.”

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