Get out and about on Boxing Day

The zoo is open on Boxing Day. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The zoo is open on Boxing Day. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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AS THE snow dust settles on another family Christmas, thoughts will turn 
 to getting out of the house and finding a distraction that does not involve selection boxes, Monopoly or yet another game of charades.

For those going stir crazy, relief ­appears in the form of Boxing Day and the many opportunities available across Edinburgh and the Lothians to have even more festive fun.

And it need not be an expensive affair. Research by charity Sustrans has revealed that more than half (54 per cent) of Scots plan to go for a walk or bike ride on Boxing Day.

Furthermore, in a YouGov survey of more than 2000 UK adults, 56 per cent of people from Scotland who plan to strap on their walking boots or saddle up over the Christmas period said walking and cycling would be a good way to burn off the festive drink and food over-indulgence.

“Research shows that the average person consumes 8000 calories on Christmas Day, so it’s a relief to discover that more than half of us plan to do some form of exercise over the holiday,” says Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of ­Sustrans.

If you are keen to make an early start on shedding your festive bulge – or perhaps your children have new bikes to put to the test – a Boxing Day walk or cycle could be just the ticket.

Make the most of the open countryside, beaches, rivers and the canal network that the Lothians boast. Or look up the National Cycle Network on www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/maps for formal routes in the area on two wheels.

“The National Cycle Network stretches 14,500 miles across the UK which means families living out in the sticks or in the middle of the city can easily find a route and explore their local areas,” Malcolm adds.

“The Network also passes within a mile of 55 per cent of UK homes which means 
everyone can go on an enjoyable, wintry walk or bike ride this Christmas.”

Keeping with the active theme, not all sporting endeavours on Boxing Day are missing a competitive edge.

At Murrayfield Stadium, at 3.05pm, watch one of rugby’s fiercest rivalries as Edinburgh Rugby take on Glasgow Warriors in the first leg of the traditional festive fixtures, with the second leg at Scotstoun Stadium on New Year’s Day.

Both teams will be looking to claim 1872 Cup bragging rights. For tickets go to www.edinburghrugby.org.

The Lothians can boast an impressive array of family attractions at the best of times – and Boxing Day is no exception. Wrap up warm and head outdoors.

The Royal Botanic Garden is open throughout the holidays, every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and offers families the chance to explore some of the weird and wonderful plant life on site.

This year the Botanics is also hosting Sea Change, an exhibition which showcases work resulting from Cape Farewell’s project around Scotland’s Western and Northern Isles. It combines films, glass, textiles, printmaking and multimedia works.

Other attractions worth a visit include Edinburgh Zoo, which is open every day including Christmas Day, and the Scottish Seabird Centre in East Lothian – closed on Christmas Day only – which both offer a range of activities and family tours.

Gorgie City Farm will also be throwing its doors open on Boxing Day – free family fun for all ages.

There are no two ways about it, after a festive season spent gorging on mince pies, chocolates and hearty dinners, the best present you could give yourself on Boxing Day is a little exercise and fresh air.

But with a nip in the air, and the wind whipping up more than just a breeze, perhaps the warmth of the cinema is more appealing for some.

The Christmas holidays usually see some great family movies on offer and this year is no exception.

For fantasy lovers, the best bet is Peter Jackson’s second instalment of The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug – on general release in most cinemas. Those looking for a giggle are also catered for with the release of Anchorman 2 while for the kids, both big and small, there is 3D movie Walking with Dinosaurs and animated adventure Moshi Monsters.

For those who may have spent Christmas dreaming of a different life, the perfect film for them goes on general release on Boxing Day. Ben Stiller directs and stars in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a inspirational tale about a daydreaming everyman who goes on an incredible adventure.

Also opening on Boxing Day is 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves in an epic fantasy reworking of the incredible true story of 47 brave samurai who face impossible odds.

If it is free family fun you are after – without braving the winter elements – do not forget that the National Museum of Scotland is open on Boxing Day from noon to 5pm. A guaranteed day of fun for all the family, with interactive exhibitions for little ones and even a cafe for busy grown-ups to rest their tired festive feet.

After a day spent enjoying the best of what the Lothians has to offer, why not choose a night-time event to round off your Boxing Day?

When it comes to the bright lights of the theatre, the Lothians has a lot to offer this year. Head to the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, for some Sleeping Beauty pantomime fun (5pm); the King’s Theatre for more panto mayhem with Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Andy Gray in Peter Pan (2pm/7pm); or White Christmas at the Festival Theatre (7.30pm).

Of course you may not be convinced by any of this and decide instead upon night in front of the box.

In Still Open All Hours, David Jason reprises the role of put-upon Granville in this BBC1 one-off return to the much-loved sitcom. Or test your knowledge of the past year as Jimmy Carr hosts the annual Channel 4 Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Enjoy.

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com