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Christmas in Edinburgh

We're thinking of traveling from the US to Edinburgh on the 23rd of December, then driving to London on about the 26th. Does anyone know of a great way for travellers to celebrate the holidays there? we are two families with three college aged boys and an 11 year old daughter. Festive lodgings, dinners, church services, concerts, or other activities would be great. Thanks.

Posted by
5678 posts

Well, I would start in London on the 23rd and spend New Years in Edinburgh. There's a huge celebration in the city for Hogmany (New Year's Eve). I'm not sure if there is info yet, but I'd google it and see what the situation is for this year.


Posted by
8866 posts

I've done Xmas in London 3 times. Panto, Xmas lights at the west end, Trafalger Square Xmas tree, after Xmas sales, ice skating, great theatre, watching the Peter Pan Cup race on Xmas morning in the Serpentine. Grab a Timeout mag as soon as you set foot in London to find out what else is happening and where. One of my favorite places in the world to celebrate Christmas is London.

Posted by
3 posts

My husband and I did a similar trip in 2001 and again went to the UK for the holidays in 2003. IT was fun and cheaper than the high season for sure. That said, here's the things they do not tell you about the UK in the holidays which we learned the hard way.

  1. EVERYTHING for transportation (except buses)in London closes down on the 25th and the 26th.
  2. All shops, businesses, etc in London close down as well for the same days.
  3. A side comment - it sounds like you will be in a car so this may not be an issue but you should know that the train systems are often redirected, rerouted, closed, etc for repairs and maintenance during the winter holidays. I wouldn't count on the timetables being accurate online - see what is available when you get there.

Bottom line - For these 2 days do not plan on doing much other than window shopping (which is still nice) and relaxing in your room in London. If I was in your shoes I would plan on traveling to a smaller town such as Bath (which I ADORE) where there are a lot of local sites which are free (e.g. Stonehenge, Avebury, Wales) for these two days and then go to London after.

If you still want to go to London during the holidays the other thing they do not tell you is the hotel rates are AWESOME. We stayed at the Le Meridien on Picadilly for (have to think back on prices here) I would say at least 50% off. This is a 5 star hotel..with an amazing christmas dinner I might add.

Oh...and bring silk long underwear. It will be COLD.

Posted by
65 posts

Every year the King's Theatre in Edinburgh has a pantomime ("the panto")for the holidays, beginning in November and continuing into January. This year it's Aladdin. It's billed as a children's event, but I went to the panto in my mid-twenties and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not to be confused with a silent mime performance--it's a traditional British theatre form with song, dance, comedy and audience participation. You can also see the panto in London. Look it up on Wikipedia for a better description.

Posted by
9 posts

This is all SO helpful!! Please keep the ideas coming!!

Posted by
208 posts

Janice -
If you're going to be in Scotland during Christmas and going to London between Christmas and Hogmanay (New Years), I wouldn't expect too much in Scotland for Christmas. I spent Christmas 1999 in Scotland with our friends, and Christmas was VERY low key. Here at home, we open gifts in the morning and spend the day playing with our new gear. In Scotland, we didn't even get around to opening gifts until around 5pm and then it was time for our dinner (complete with Christmas pudding).

Hogmanay (1999-2000), on the other hand, was a 3 day party! We celebrated Old Years Night until 7am on New Years Day, slept in, 1 Jan. we went to the pub - celebrating until around 4am that night, and the 2nd of Jan. we had a party for everyone at the pub and celebrated unti 5am the next morning. It was soooooo much fun - but a completely different story than Christmas.
If it were me and you have the opportunity, I would do London for Christmas then head north of the border for Hogmanay. Princes Street Gardens has a festival feel - complete with an ice rink.

I agree with the suggestion for WARM clothes - you're going to need them!