Edinburgh’s Christmas

All festivals

16 Nov -
4 Jan 2020,

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2017 marked the fifth year of Underbelly producing Edinburgh’s Christmas for the City of Edinburgh Council. With attractions over four city centre locations as well as in local communities, it was their biggest and best Christmas to date.

Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar, a free outdoor attraction counted down the days on General Register House. On George Street, alongside Santa’s Grotto, The Ice Adventure: A Journey Through Frozen Scotland attracted crowds to admire over 200 ice sculptures charting Scottish history and mythology. In Festival Square, the Spiegeltent hosted La Clique Noël, a specially curated festive version of Edinburgh’s favourite, outrageous and unforgettable cabaret show that started at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2003.

East Princes Street Gardens remained a centre point for families with Santa Land, the ever-popular Christmas Markets and familiar rides such as the Star Flyer and the Forth One Big Wheel. The elliptical ice rink returned to St Andrew Square.

1,290 schoolchildren from 33 schools across Edinburgh designed stained glass windows throughout the autumn term on the theme of the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision. 44 winning entries were picked and enlarged into “Winter Windows” and displayed in five locations around Edinburgh - West Parliament Square, Leith’s Kirkgate Plaza, Craigmillar Library, Drumbrae Library and Westside Plaza, Westerhailes.

An estimated audience of 15,000 came together for Light Night, a celebration of Edinburgh’s community spirit and the traditional start to the city’s Christmas celebrations. Forth 1 Breakfast presenter Arlene Stuart, was joined by Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross, and the star of BBC’s Call the Midwife and Shrek the Musical, Laura Main to mark the beginning of Edinburgh’s Christmas and the switch on of the city's lights and stunning fireworks display. 


Edinburgh’s Christmas attracted 919,344 unique visitors over 6 weeks in 2017, (up 3.7% from 886,651 in 2015). 

Footfall to Edinburgh’s Christmas three main sites was counted at 4.653 million and City Centre footfall was counted at 20.7 million for the November & December period (Essential Edinburgh).

Edinburgh’s retail sales from 2015 to 2017 grew 3.1% during the Edinburgh’s Christmas period of November and December, bucking the average Scottish trend (-0.2%) and the UK trend (1.3%).

A record-breaking 771,007 tickets were snapped up for Edinburgh’s Christmas rides, attractions and shows: a 11.6% increase on 2016’s 690,878 tickets sold.

And Edinburgh’s Christmas once again demonstrated its very loyal local following with EH postcode holders booking 142,333 tickets with their 20% discount (up 9% on 2016). 


'Record crowds are flocking to Edinburgh's Christmas'


Top 10 best cities for a winter destination

CNN, 2013