What's on in Edinburgh this December
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so check out our pick of the December events in Edinburgh to help keep you entertained up to the big day and beyond
The Ice Adventure – A Journey Through Frozen Scotland
Let the ice and snow sculptures of West George Street guide you through our rich heritage, but wrap up as the cold creations tend to lower the already wintry temperature, tickets from £7.
Christmas at the Botanics
Get a little Christmas magic by following the illuminated trail at the Stockbridge attraction, as greenhouses and trees do their best impersonation of the Star of Bethlehem. There’s also a scented Fire Garden to experience, along with mulled wine, spiced cider and hot chocolate. Entry from £15.40.
1 Dec-25 Feb
Giant Lanterns of China, Edinburgh Zoo
Talk about China in your hands - 450 dazzling giant lanterns will illuminate the zoo on 50 nights, while performers bring an authentic Asian experience and a Christmas market tempts you to buy themed souvenirs. Best of all, the lanterns are made by resident pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang. OK, we made that last bit up, they’re far too busy making tiny pandas… we can but hope. Entry between 4.30pm-7.30pm (for a 9pm finish), from £10.47, under-threes free.
Hopetoun Christmas Shopping Fair
If you can’t face the crowds of your local high street, try the 60 stalls at Hopetoun House for festive gifts, 10am-4.30pm, £6 entry includes charity donation and entry to the house.
1 Dec-6 Jan
St Andrew Square Ice Rink
If you’re one of those lucky folk who don’t get motion sickness, aren’t afraid of being bashed by lesser mortals and fear not the bladed boots, get your skates on… or rather, get the hire skates on, sessions from £5.
2 Dec-21 Jan
Oh yes we are starting this panto puff in predictable manner. It’s as traditional as the King’s panto, which once again stars the terrible trio of Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott. But will Health & Safety allow them to throw sweeties at the kids? Times vary, tickets from £17.
Jupiter Artland Christmas Fair
Craft demos, gift stalls, seasonal food and drink and, of course, the best in contemporary art, 11am-4pm, £3.50-£8.50, family tickets £21.50.
Morningside Makers Market
Held on the first Saturday of every month, this boutique affair sees artists, crafters and designers offering ceramics, jewellery, glassware, photography, textiles and art. See what special Christmas offerings they have at the Columcille Centre, 11am-4pm.
The folk legend plays the Traverse Theatre Cafe Bar, 8pm, tickets £11.
Love Actually with Live Orchestra
Enjoy the much-loved Hugh Grant Britcom with live orchestral accompaniment at the Usher Hall. 7.30pm, tickets from £39, actually.
Viva La Shambles
The chaotic comedy group are back at The Stand, 8.30pm, tickets from £4.
Erskine Christmas Carol Concert
The Royal Band of the Regiment of Scotland Cadenza Choir and singer Nicola Cassells lead the singing at this concert for the charity which cares for veterans. It’s at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, 7pm, suggested donation £5.
This award-winning puppet version of the fairy tale features a Cinders who’s having a bad hair day (she’d count her blessings if she met Rapunzel…). Traverse Theatre, various dates and times, tickets from £8.
Scottish Ballet: The Nutcracker
The festive favourite is back at the Festival Theatre, so grab some candy cane and enjoy Scottish Ballet’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Times vary, tickets from £22.
Sleep in the Park
Help tackle homelessness by joining Social Bite’s mass ‘sleepout’ in Princes Street Gardens, which includes acoustic sets from Amy McDonald and Liam Gallagher and a visit from Saint… sorry, Sir Bob Geldof. See www.sleepinthepark.co.uk for details of how to take part.
9-10 and 16-17 Dec
The Snow Queen and Elf School
The National Trust for Scotland’s Newhailes welcomes the Snow Queen to the historic Musselburgh estate, so let’s have Narnia nonsense… The frost-laden maiden will welcome visitors to her ice grotto to hear Christmas wishes and give out gifts to children, there’s even an Elf School. 11-4pm, £6 to see the Queen, £6 for elven activity.
Edinburgh Christmas Tree Festival
Forty fabulous Christmas trees light up St Andrew’s and St George’s West sanctuary, each telling a different story reminding us what Christmas is all about. The programme varies from day to day but there’ll be the likes of puppet shows, choirs and storytelling, with funds raised helping charities local and worldwide, free.
Summerhall Christmas Market
More than 70 vendors will be spread Christmas spirit at the popular venue, and there’s also a wreath-making workshop – but you have to book in advance. The event runs from 11m-5pm, entry £2, under-16s free.
The legendary tribute act – they’ve lasted far longer than did the real thing, presumably there’s no Bootleg Yoko – play the Usher Hall, 7.30pm, tickets from £23.50
12 Dec-7 Jan
Shrek The Musical
Call the Midwife star Laura Main goes green as Princess Fiona opposite Steffan Harri’s loveable ogre as the Playhouse welcomes back the popular musical, times and dates vary, tickets from £20.
G4 Christmas By Candlelight
When A Child is Born, Silent Night, All I Want For Christmas… All these and more are likely to pop up as the X Factor’s operatic quartet plays Greyfriars Kirk, 7.30pm, tickets from £10.
WOW! Decades Christmas Party
Tribute acts go tinsel at the Village Hotel, with a tasty festive menu to boot, 7pm, £25.
Jack and the Beanstalk
The popular panto comes to the Church Hill Theatre, dates and times vary, tickets from £10 - so there’s no need to sell your pet cow.
Cameron Toll Christmas Lights Up Christmas
Santa comes to the shopping centre to help raise money for the Edinburgh Children’s Hospice Charity, pop along from 11am-4pm.
A Christmas Wish
The talented tots, tweens and teens of MGA Academy of the Performing Arts put on their Santa hats, grab the sleigh bells and sing and dance their hearts out in Hollywood-ready production numbers at the Usher Hall, 7.30pm, tickets from £13.75.
Following its award-winning Fringe run, the children’s comedy comes to the Gilded Balloon’s Rose Street theatre at 5pm daily, £8.
The Stand’s Midweek Comedy Cabaret strand gets festive... and fetid? 8.30pm, £6.
Carols By Candlelight
Performers don 18th-century garb for this Usher Hall extravaganza of classical carolling, 7.30pm, from £33.05.
Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook
The folk legend is back with his 12th songbook… open the pages and find Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, John McCusker, Kris Drever, Ian Carr and Kevin McGuire along with a special guest brass band. Tickets for the 7.30pm Queen’s Hall funfest are £24.
RSNO at the Movies: RSNO Christmas Concert
You’ll be walking in the air as the masterly musicians accompany The Snowman before turning their talents to other festive favourites at the Usher Hall, 7.30pm, tickets from £19.
23-29 (not 25) Dec
A Very Mary Christmas
Head to Edinburgh Castle to find out how Mary, Queen of Scots celebrated Christmas with her courtiers, times vary, entry included in normal admission price.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Nothing says Christmas Eve like Jedi Knights, so get along to Grassmarket Community Project, 2pm.
Christmas Day at Ghillie Dhu
Fairies and blazing fires welcome you to this seasonal celebration, featuring a festive menu and Santa Claus, sessions 12.30pm-3pm or 4.30pm-7pm, adults £69.95, children, £35.95 (includes a wee pressie).
Glenn Miller Orchestra
The wartime wonders are at the Usher Hall, sans Mr Miller (unsurprisingly) but they do have all-girl group the Polka Dot Dolls, with a tribute to the Andrews Sisters, 3pm, tickets from £18.50.
Magic Fest Christmas Special: The Secret Gift
Prestidigitators from all over the UK - and Spain - appear at the Traverse Theatre with a Christmas show to beguile the hardest of hearts, 2pm and 7pm, from £20 (child, £15).
Howl at the Moon
Musical mayhem at Brewhemia with live duelling piano jukebox from 7pm and food and drinks aplenty, 7pm, free.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Steve Martin/John Candy comedy, popular with many, gets a free screening at the Grassmarket Community Project, 2pm.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: Torchlight Procession
One of the world’s best celebrations of the turn of the year begins at 7pm with a torchlight procession starting at three points: North Bridge, South Bridge and St Giles. The atmosphere as thousands head for the Holyrood Park finale, accompanied by pipers and drummers, is something special. It’s £13 for a torch, £3 to accompany the crowd without a flame.
With a street party, concert featuring the Human League, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Huey Morgan, ceilidh, fireworks, even a party for the kids, there’s something for most people brave enough to tempt winter temperatures in the city centre (some of us are staying home with Jackie Bird…) Tickets for the street party from £26, full details at www.edinburghshogmanay.com