There are so many things to do with kids in Edinburgh that we really are spoilt for choice. With Christmas firmly on the horizon there are so many great family attractions to choose from! But here are our top 10 Edinburgh family attractions you really must visit this Christmas:
1. Ice Skating in St Andrew Square
Take to the ice on the circular rink in St Andrew Square. Feel the wind in your hair as you whizz round or just celebrate staying on your feet. Either way, there’s something magical about skating on an outdoor rink. Booking details and rink rules are here.
2. Lights at the Botanics
This was a huge hit with all the family last Christmas – over a million twinkling lights, music, bubbles,fire and a mini performance by Santa and his elf. Peak times are selling out already so get booked up.
3. Lights at the Zoo
The Giant Lanterns of China return to Edinburgh Zoo this winter with a theme of myths and legends. Expect to see unicorns, giants, kelpies and the Loch Ness Monster among the 450 lanterns depicting Scottish myths and Chinese legends in a magical trail of folklore and fantasy. If your Christmas schedule is already packed then this might be one to save for the new year as the lanterns run until 17 February 2019. Tickets and info available here.
4. Visit with Santa
In case the letters to Santa get lost in the post, it’s best to meet the man himself to be sure he knows what’s on the family’s Christmas lists. There are some super authentic looking Santas around town but if you’re hoping to avoid the traffic – we’d also recommend a visit to Santaat The Centre, Livingston.
5. Go to the ballet
Theatre is magical at any time of year but there is something really special about going to the ballet at Christmas time. This year Scottish Ballet has revived its acclaimed production of Cinderella at the Festival Theatre. A beautiful show with beautiful musicand, of course, a happy ending.
6. Enjoy the rides at Santa Land
There is lots to choose from in East Princes Street Gardens’ Santa Land this year. Perhaps the gentle carousel, which you can ride in tandem with really little people, or maybe the bumper cars and helter skelter for those who are older and bolder. The Santa Train and Christmas Tree Maze are wonderful whatever your age. Read about the fun day we had here and don’t forget the locals discount for EH postcode holders.
7. Check out the Christmas markets
Take a stroll among the wooden huts and marvel at the variety on offer. There are some lovely little stalls in the market this year and the layout is bigger and better than ever. If your Christmas shopping is done there’s always the spiced cider and German market foodie treats. Or the Bothy Bar if you happen to be child-free. Reports suggest that Edinburgh’s Christmas market is best avoided on a Friday or Saturday night due to crowds but pick a quieter time and enjoy exploring what’s on offer.
8. Edwardian Christmas tour of Lauriston Castle
Slightly off the beaten track is Edinburgh’s least castle-like-castle, Lauriston Castle. It is really just a grand house but it has a fascinating history and a beautiful Edwardian interior. Knowledgeable tour guides offer winter tours with a festive feel at 2pm daily throughout December, with additional 3pm tours at the weekends. Booking is advised.
9. Go to a panto
Is it really Christmas if you haven’t been to a pantomime? Sing-a-long and innuendo (or at times downright dirty talk) are all part of the fun. Scottish panto must be seen to be believed so practice your boo-ing and your shouts of “it’s behind you” and see classical fairy tales as you never have before. There are local productions at the Churchill Theatre in Morningside at the Brunton inMusselburgh, as well as the usual suspect, Grant Stott, appearing in Beauty and the Beast at the King’s theatre.
10. Find a family ceilidh
Edinburgh’s festive season doesn’t end after 25 December; in fact, many would say it’s only really getting started as the world famous Hogmanay celebrations commence. See in the new year in style at a traditional Scottish ceilidh. The Museum of Scotland has changed its family ceilidh format this year with the introduction of Step Wee Ceilidh for children under 5. Booking from 10 December. Families with older children could head to The Bruntonin Musselburgh for family ceilidh fun on 31st December: