It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Capital

Master Sculpture Jack Hackney put some finishing touches to his exhibition - Ice Adventure: A journey through frozen Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Master Sculpture Jack Hackney put some finishing touches to his exhibition - Ice Adventure: A journey through frozen Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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THE Big Wheel is spinning, the European market ready to vend and The Star Flyer is on standby to soar above the city.

The festivities can mean but one thing – the time has come for the Capital to once again be transformed into a glittering winter wonderland as Edinburgh’s Christmas 2017 launches over the weekend.

Edinburgh Christmas lights. Princes Street Gardens.

Edinburgh Christmas lights. Princes Street Gardens.

Once again, East Princes Street Gardens will remain the focal point for family entertainment with Santa Land’s Christmas Tree Maze providing a magical experience for kids aged one to 100, but will you find the Elves’ workshop hidden inside the maze?

Favourite rides such as The Star Flyer (£7.50), the traditional Double Carousel (£4) and the Big Wheel (£6) also return to the Gardens from tomorrow.

Or why not see the Capital as you have never seen it before as The Star Flyer swings over Waverley while, bejewelled with 20,000 lights, the Dutch-made Ferris wheel’s cosy, covered pods offer spectacular views across the city.

Also in East Princes Street Gardens, the Scottish Market will join together with the European Market, seeing more than 130 craft, food and drink stalls pop up across the Gardens.

Master Sculpture Jack Hackney - Ice Adventure: A journey through frozen Scotland

Master Sculpture Jack Hackney - Ice Adventure: A journey through frozen Scotland

Up the road in St Andrew Square, the Elliptical Ice Rink (until January 6, 10am-9.30pm, 45 minute slots £12.50) is sure to once again prove a popular draw.

While there, why not check out the Christmas Nativity scene, also in St Andrew Square gardens?

That will also be the location for this year’s Nativity Carol Concert (December 3, 3pm, free).

To mark the start of Advent, the carol concert will take place around the Nativity Scene, which has been generously donated by Sir Tom Farmer.

New this year, the Ice Adventure (until December 24, £10/£7) on George Street will take you on a journey through frozen Scotland.

Made of snow and ice, the arctic installation and immersive walk-through experience is filled with spectacular ice and snow sculptures of Vikings, fairies and Kelpies, Highland cows, eagles and Dolly the Sheep.

Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Greyfriars Bobby, and of course the Loch Ness Monster, will all feature.

Jamie Hamilton, of Hamilton Ice, said: “We couldn’t be happier to be part of Edinburgh’s Christmas for the first time.

“We’re having great fun imagining and creating in snow and ice many aspects of Scotland from Robert the Bruce to Dolly the Sheep for Ice Adventure, which we hope visitors will enjoy exploring and discovering.”

With plenty of opportunities for selfies at Ice Adventure, don’t forget your camera, but dress warmly. At -10C, it’s a truly arctic experience.

George Street is also where you will find the ever-popular Santa’s Grotto (tomorrow-December 24, £8) where kids will meet Father Christmas, hear a festive fairy tale, and receive a wee gift.

Another new offering this year is the Giant Advent Calendar (December 1-25, 5pm-10pm), another free attraction.

Created by Double Take Projections, 24 glimpses of Edinburgh winters from years gone by dating back as far as the 1700s will be projected nightly onto General Register House. One will be revealed each 
day.

Steven McConnachie, of Double Take Projections, said: “Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar will be a stunning new feature for this year and we are enjoying working to uncover some old Edinburgh gems, which will be revealed in December.”

The Festival Square Spiegeltent meanwhile brings a dazzling new show from international sensation La Clique, La Clique Noel (until January 6, £15.50-£50.50) to the stage.

The production features a mix of cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville in a new, sexy, dangerous show starring Scotty The Blue Bunny, Heather Holliday and Vicky Butterfly, Dannie Bourne and The La Clique Palace Orkestra featuring Kelly Wolfgram.

Kids’ shows at the Festival Square Spiegeltent include Shark In The Park (until January 6, £10), based on Nick Sharatts’ well-loved books, and family favourite Baby Loves Disco (until January 6, £9), which lets little groovers who might not even have found their feet yet dance the day away.

David Bates of The Famous Spiegeltent, said: “We’re coming home for Christmas.

“We’ve got some spicy seasonal treats in store for Scotland this winter with some new international acts that will bend your minds and bring the fishnets to your Christmas stocking.”

Other shows programmed for Edinburgh’s Christmas include the classic fairy tale Cinderella (£13, December 8-24) at The Traverse and The Arabian Nights (see panel on left) at The Lyceum.

And watch out for the Christmas and Hogmanay tram specially designed by schoolchildren from across the city.

Producers Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, said: “This is the fifth year Underbelly has produced Edinburgh’s Christmas and we are extremely excited to be presenting such an ambitious and refreshed programme spreading farther and wider across the city, reaching more communities than ever before.”

Oh, and don’t forget – Edinburgh residents get a 20 per cent discount across all shows, rides and events.

Edinburgh’s Christmas runs from today until January 6. Full details of Edinburgh’s Christmas programme can be found at www.edinburghschristmas.com.