Lights are bright for Christmas

Festive decorations on Princes Street and The Mound

Festive decorations on Princes Street and The Mound

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THE faint sound of Santa’s sleigh bells can almost be heard ... Christmas is just around the corner.

THE faint sound of Santa’s sleigh bells can almost be heard ... Christmas is just around the corner.

Ice skaters at Winter Wonderland

Ice skaters at Winter Wonderland

In Edinburgh, the arrival of the festive season will be made official tomorrow with the switching-on of the Christmas tree lights on The Mound.

Marking the start of a month of all things joyous and sparkling, the iconic Christmas wheel will also start to spin, as revellers from across the world are welcomed to the Capital for winter.

But the fun does not end there. Here are some of the highlights of the festive season across the Lothians to keep families busy until Santa arrives.

CITY CENTRE

* Lighting of Edinburgh’s Christmas tree, The Mound, tomorrow.

The city’s “Light Night” kicks off at 4pm with a projection display on George Street. The “Show on the Mound” starts at 5.15pm, including walkabout characters and the lighting of the famous Norwegian tree. Festivities continue from 6.15pm in St Andrew Square with a dance and music show.

* Edinburgh Wheel, Scott Monument, tomorrow to Wednesday January 4.

The wheel starts spinning on 10am and will continue through to 2012. Tickets cost £4 (adults) and children (£3).

* Grassmarket Christmas tree switch-on, Friday December 2, 6.30pm.

* Norwegian carol concert, St Giles’ Cathedral, tomorrow, 7pm.

A free event celebrating Scotland’s close association with Norway, with music from Hordaland County Council and Edinburgh University Chamber Choir.

* Nativity carol concert, St Andrew Square, Sunday.

Celebrate Advent Sunday with singing beside the city’s Nativity scene. The event starts at 4pm for 40 minutes.

* The Great Edinburgh Santa Run, Princes Street Gardens, Sunday December 11.

Take part or watch hundreds of Santas run, jog or walk in aid of charity. Places cost £12.50 (adults) and £7.50 (children), including a Santa suit. The run starts at 11am, registration open from 9am.

* Santa in the Gardens, East Princes Street Gardens, Saturday December 3 to Saturday December 24.

The cherished festive figure will greet the pubic at 4pm (December 3) and 11am and 4pm on December 4. He will then make visits daily from Saturday December 10, at 11am at 4pm.

* Santa Express, Princes Street, Sunday December 4 to Saturday December 24.

Ride a festive train along Princes Street. Tickets cost £2 (adults) and £1.50 (children).

* Edinburgh’s Ice Rink, East Princes Street Gardens, tomorrow to Wednesday January 4.

Back for another year, the attraction is open to all the family, with prices starting from £6 (children) and £8.50 (adults).

* German Market, Mound Precinct, tomorrow to December 24.

Packed with festive treats, the market opens Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to 8pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 10pm; and Christmas Eve, 10am to 8pm.

GORGIE

* Christmas lights switch-on, Gorgie City Farm, 6pm.

FOUNTAINBRIDGE

n Santa Cruises, Edinburgh Quay, Saturday December 3 to Friday December 23.

Back by popular demand, enjoy return trips along the canal to Harrison Park.

Cruises cost £6 per person and include a gift for children. Call 0131-453 4617 to book.

BLACKHALL

* Christmas lights switch-on, Thursday December 1, 4.30pm.

LEITH

* Arts Market, Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Dalmeny Street, Saturday December 3 and Saturday December 10.

Hunt for some unusual Christmas gifts for your loved ones, from textiles to photography. 11am to 5pm.

* Christmas Lights Switch-on, Kirkgate, Thursday December 1, 4.45pm.

NEWHAVEN

* Christmas lights switch-on, Victoria Primary, Monday December 12, 6pm.

MARCHMONT

* Marchmont Playgroup’s Christmas fair and ceilidh, Marchmont St Giles Church, Kilgraston Road, Sunday.

Music, home baking, games, stalls, a silent auction, raffle and visit from Santa. 2pm to 4.30pm. Tickets cost £5 (family); £2 (adults); £1 (children).

* Christmas lights switch-on, Marchmont Crescent, Saturday December 10, 4.30pm.

MORNINGSIDE

* Christmas lights switch-on, Thursday December 1, 7pm.

RATHO

* Santa sleigh, The Bridge Inn, Saturday December 3 to Saturday December 24.

Board a sleigh barge to sail up the Union Canal to Santa’s magical Island Grotto. Cruises last an hour and include sweets, juice, gifts, and mulled wine for adults. Call 0131-333 1320 to book.

* Santa in his grotto, Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Saturday December 3 to Sunday December 11.

Visit Santa and enjoy an hour in the playroom, a festive gift, face painting and a chance to make “reindeer food”. Sessions run 10am to 5pm and cost £6. Call 0131-333 6333 for more details.

DAVIDSON’S MAINS

* Christmas lights switch-on, Friday December 2, 7pm.

CORSTORPHINE

* Torchlight parade and carol service, Dovecot Road, Wednesday December 14.

Meet at 7pm to walk through the park to arrive at Corstorphine Old Parish Church to sing carols.

* Christmas lights switch-on, Corstorphine Parish Church, Thursday December 8, 6.30pm.

PRESTONFIELD

* Christmas lights switch-on, Prestonfield Avenue, Friday December 9, 6.30pm.

INVERLEITH

* Santa toddle, Inverleith Park, Sunday December 4.

Raise money for charity and have fun. Santa arrives at 12.30pm, ahead of the walk at 1pm. Children receive a medal and a goody bag. Entry £5. Find out more at www.challengescotland.com.

SOUTHSIDE

* Christmas lights switch-on, St Patrick’s Square, Tuesday December 6, 6pm.

PORTOBELLO

* Christmas charity fair, Portobello Town Hall, Sunday.

Organised by students from Telford College in aid of Sick Kids. Look out for a special visit from Santa. 11am to 4pm.

SOUTH QUEENSFERRY

* Christmas lights switch-on, High Street, Thursday December 1, 5.30pm.

RESTALRIG

* Christmas lights switch-on, Restalrig Road South, Thursday December 1, 6pm.

TOLLCROSS

* Christmas lights switch-on, Lauriston Place, Tuesday November 29, 7pm.

GILMERTON

* Christmas lights switch-on, Saturday, 4pm.

BRUNTSFIELD

* Christmas lights switch-on, Holy Corner, Saturday, 4.30pm.

Join Alexander McCall Smith as he does the honours, to a backdrop of music from the local choir Songworks.

WEST LOTHIAN

* Canal cruises, Linlithgow Canal Centre, Sunday December 11 and 18.

Enjoy a three-hour festive cruise with a three-course dinner. Tickets £25 by calling 01506 847 622.

* Hopetoun House’s family Christmas craft workshop, Saturday December 17.

Make your own festive decorations from 10.30am to 12pm, Tickets £3.50 (children), £5 (adults), and £4.50 (concessions). Call 0131-319 3956 to book.

* Meet Santa in the forest, Almond Valley Heritage Centre, Saturday December 3 to 24.

Make Christmas crafts, meet animals, and receive a present from the man himself.

Tickets £4 (children aged 3+) and £5.50 (adults). Visit www.almondvalley.co.uk to book.

* Beecraigs Christmas red deer deerwalk, Beecraigs Country Park, Saturday December 17 and Sunday 18.

Wrap up warm, and head to the park for 11am, accompanying the ranger as you get up close and personal with these beautiful animals – and even feed them. Tickets £4.65 (adults) and £2.60 (children). Call 01506 844 516 to book.

* A Christmas Carol, Chapterhouse Theatre Company, Hopetoun House, Thursday December 8.

A period costume adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story.

The show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £12 (adults) and £8 (concessions). Call 0131-331 2451 or visit www.hubtickets.co.uk to book.

* Holly at Christmas, Bathgate Regal Community Theatre, Friday December 16.

Dance and be merry with a host of Buddy Holly’s classics, plus chart toppers from the legends of the 1950s and 1960s.

Tickets £15. Visit www.bathgateregal.org to book.

* Meet Santa at Debenhams, The Centre, Livingston, Saturday until Friday December 23.

The mysterious, bearded gent will be available every afternoon to spread some festive cheer – and hand out gifts. The treat costs £3, with £1 going to the charity Children 1st.

EAST LOTHIAN

* Musselburgh torchlight parade and Christmas lights switch-on, Old Town Hall, Sunday.

The public is invited to assemble at the Old Town Hall, joining locals from churches to youth organisations. The parade will head along the High Street over the Rennie Bridge, along Bridge Street and into the front of the Brunton Hall for the start of a carol service, followed by the switching on of the festive lights.

* Dunbar Christmas lights switch-on, Sunday, 6.30pm.

* Dunbar Christmas market, High Street, Sunday, 3pm to 7pm.

MIDLOTHIAN

n Christmas Crafts, free events across Midlothian.

Sessions for adults take place on Thursday December 1 at Danderhall Library (6pm to 7.30pm); for kids at Bonnyrigg Library on Friday December 2 and Friday December 9 (2pm to 3.50pm); at Gorebridge Library on Friday December 9 (2.30pm to 3.30pm); and at Roslin Library, Newtongrange Library, Mayfield Library, Loanhead Library and Dalkeith Library on Friday December 16 (times vary).