From celebrations of Scotland’s patron saint (St Andrew’s Day, 30 November) to the birthday of Robert Burns (25 January), and with Hogmanay in between, Scotland Winter’s Festivals celebrate the spirit and fun of the festive season, all warmed up with a cosy jumper and a wee dram.
As Christmas arrives, Scotland’s towns and cities are dressed up to sparkle, offering Christmas markets full of delicious local produce and fun and attractions to keep the naughty and nice children entertained.
Once the presents have been unwrapped and the turkey has been eaten, there is nothing quite like seeing the New Year start in Scotland, where the party doesn’t stop, even on 1 January.
Here are just some of this year’s highlights to look out for…
St Andrew’s Day (30 November 2015)
Events for 2015 include:
The Saltire Festival, East Lothian, 23 – 29 November 2015
East Lothian’s Saltire Festival returns for its sixth year, with a packed programme of events celebrating St Andrew’s Day in The Home of the Flag. As well as a specially themed race day at Musselburgh Racecourse, people can enjoy a St Andrew’s Day themed Haddington Farmers’ Market and an evening of fine wine, food and gastronomy at The Saltire Epicurean Encounter. The John Muir Winter Carnival returns to Foxlake Adventure, promising another action packed day and the chance to try a variety of water and land-based activities from kayaking to mountain biking.
Other events have also been added to the programme including: Scotland on Film, a showcase of Scottish cinema at The Brunton Theatre; Appetite for Music, inviting young, local musicians to play local pubs and restaurants in collaboration with ELJam, East Lothian's Youth Music Forum.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, St Andrew’s Day Celebrations, 28 November 2015 – 1 December 2015
The Storytelling Centre welcomes an exciting and varied programme of readings, talks and suppers to mark St Andrew’s Day including Oor Scotland, presented by Andy Cannon and Wendy Weatherby; a Family Ceilidh; A National Anthem For Scotland featuring musician Bob Murray; and Café Ceilidh St Andrew’s Day Celebration featuring Linten Adie and friends from the Scots Music Group.
Santa Claus is coming to town….
Edinburgh’s Christmas, 20 November 2015 – 4 January 2016
Scotland’s Capital really pulls out the stops for the festive season, beginning with the stalls of the Continental-style Christmas market on east Princes Street Gardens, set under the gaze of a frost-covered Edinburgh Castle. Funfair attractions range from the Big Wheel to the gravity-defying Star Flyer. For a fun day or night out with family, St Andrew Square features the Spiegeltent, where shows take place, the Scottish Market, a Children’s Market, the helter skelter, one of the two fantastic carousels, a circular ice rink and bars. (Prices and show times vary, please see edinburghschristmas.com for more information).
***New for 2015 A new feature for Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations is the Virgin Money Street of Light. Beginning on Monday, 30 November and running until Christmas Eve, the specially designed architectural installation of 60,000+ lights stretches along the Royal Mile, from the City Chambers to the Tron Kirk. Audiences will enter the canopy of light, rising up to 19 metres high and listen to specially commissioned recordings from choirs from across Edinburgh all synchronised to the lights. (The event is free but ticketed, please see virginmoneystreetoflight.com for more information).
Glasgow Loves Christmas, from 13 November 2015
With a jam packed events programme, some of the best shopping in the UK, great places to eat and drink and a glittering city centre backdrop, it’s clear to see why Glasgow Loves Christmas. Up to 11 million families, shoppers and those seeking festive fun will descend on the city over Christmas, adding to the already magical festive vibe.
From 16 November, George Square will be a hub of festive activity with free, family-friendly entertainment every day of the week. Enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and the beautiful tree surrounded by the festive displays. Go for a drink in the pavilion bar area or have fun on the fairground rides which includes the much-loved carousel. This year's Glasgow Christmas Market will open from Friday, 13 November until Sunday, 20 December at St. Enoch Square. www.glasgowloveschristmas.com
Aberdeen Winter Festival, 26 November 2015 – 3 January 2016
Aberdeen will have the city’s first ever Christmas Village, open-air ice rink and festive fairground rides. Other festive features will include the Christmas Lights Switch-On, special St Andrew’s Day Celebrations on 30 November, Trinity Centre reindeer parade, Nativity Scene, and Carol Concert and Hogmanay Celebrations. (For more information, please go to www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winterfestival).
Christmas at Blair Castle, Perthshire, Sunday, 13 and Sunday, 20 December 2015
Set within the beautiful Perthshire countryside, visit Blair Castle at Christmas, decorated as it was in the Victorian era, when the 7th Duke lived and his family lived there. The rooms are decorated to give an insight into how they might have celebrated Christmas. Enjoy a break from Christmas shopping with a three course Christmas Sunday lunch next to the roaring fire in the historic ballroom and finish off your visit with a trip to Santa's magical grotto, set in one of the oldest parts of the castle. Back by popular demand, Santa will be returning with his bagpipes this year, entertaining boys and girls with Christmas jingles and special requests. (Castle tour priced from £7.90 pp, please see blair-castle.co.uk for more information).
Party like it’s 2016….
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, 30 December 2015– 1 January 2016
The world-famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations begin on Wednesday 30 December with the Torchlight Procession as 10,000 torchbearers wind their way through the city streets lined with tens of thousands of spectators. On Thursday 31 December, the musical line-up across the seven stages in the centre of the city promises to deliver an exhilarating party soundtrack for the anticipated 75,000 revellers. The Concert in the Gardens (which has sold out within a record 10 days) features headliners Biffy Clyro with very special guests Idlewild and Honeyblood for a very strong all-Scottish line-up. Other features include the Old Town Ceilidh and Street Party with additional stage and screens.
On 1 January 2016, brave souls will take part in the Loony Dook which sees 1,250 ‘Dookers’ in fancy dress, ranging from the weird to the wonderful, welcome the New Year with a dip in the River Forth at South Queensferry. In addition, on 1 January Edinburgh’s Hogmanay presents Scot:Lands – incredible new worlds hidden in beautiful buildings and outdoor spaces in the city’s Old Town, where audiences can discover the very best in music, art and theatre, created and curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists, arts organisations and musicians: a festival in itself – all free.
Tickets for the world famous Street Party, The Old Town Ceilidh, and pre-booked Torches for the Torchlight Procession, are on sale now from edinburghshogmanay.com
Stirling’s Hogmanay, 31 December 2015 – 1 January 2016
The streets of Stirling will come alive with a carnival parade of light and sound, and midnight fireworks over the city’s historic skyline. The Hogmanay celebrations include a programme of family-friendly entertainment for the countdown to midnight fireworks. The celebrations will be rounded off on January 1st with Stirling’s Resolution Run, a 5K organised with local sports clubs to kick off the New Year.
(For more information, please see my.stirling.gov.uk/events )
For more information on festive events in Scotland, and to download VisitScotland’s A-Z of Winter in Scotland, please visit www.visitscotland.com/winter
For more information on Scotland’s Winter Festivals, please visit www.scotland.org/winter
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Notes to Editors
• For attraction and accommodation offers go to www.visitscotland.com
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- For VisitScotland’s press releases, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to www.visitscotland.org
- About Scotland’s Winter Festivals
Scotland's Winter Festivals is a campaign led by The Scottish Government and delivered in partnership with VisitScotland Events Directorate, supporting celebrations of Scotland's three national days - St Andrews Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. Scotland's Winter Festivals run from November until the end of January.
Scots at home and abroad, come together to celebrate Scotland’s unique heritage and distinctive culture through Scotland’s Winter Festivals - St Andrew’s Day, Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night.
Anyone, whether they are Scottish or have an interest in Scotland, can join in the celebration of winter events taking place across the country. Find out what’s happening near you at www.scotland.org/winter.
A vibrant winter event programme brings together people from all over the world to celebrate Scotland’s modern culture and traditions through the best selection of Scottish music, arts, food and drink, innovation and entertainment.
Scotland is a year round destination for visitors, welcoming over 15 million people every year to our shores. St Andrew’s Day, Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night all offer a reason to come and celebrate here in Scotland or anywhere else around the world.