Top tips for visiting Edinburgh’s Christmas attractions

The Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens. Photo by Iain Cameron
The Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens. Photo by Iain Cameron

Think you’re a Scrooge? Edinburgh’s Christmas attractions will soon put paid to that.

I defy anyone not to feel festive after a trip to one of the biggest celebrations of the season in Britain, which has seen a host of markets, rides and events spring up in the famous Princes Street Gardens and beyond.

Ice Adventure. Photo by Roberto Riciutti

Ice Adventure. Photo by Roberto Riciutti

Travelling on December 2, I thought it may have been a little too early to be cracking open the Mince pies and putting Wham’s Last Christmas on loop, but a trip north of the border left me feeling as warm inside as a steaming mug of mulled wine.

Running until January 7, Edinburgh’s festive events have got Christmas covered.

Fancy a foot-long bratwurst with lashings of mustard? Then head straight to East Princes Street Gardens, where it’s like an explosion in a Christmas factory has gone off. There’s everything you can think of to buy, from traditional wooden tree decorations to sheepskin gifts to real winter warmers at the host of food and drink stalls. Make sure to head to the central bar where you can pick up a hot plum cider and view the festivities from its balcony.

If you can stomach a ride after all that glühwein there’s plenty for little ones and big kids at heart with prices starting from £2, such as the Star Flyer which gives you a spectacular bird’s eye view of this romantically-gothic city.

Views from the Star Flyer. Photo by www.lloydsmithphotograph.com

Views from the Star Flyer. Photo by www.lloydsmithphotograph.com

Or why not try out the poster boy of Edinburgh’s Christmas market, the Big Wheel which dominates the skyline over Christmas.

For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, head to Ice Adventure in George Street. Wrap up warm as you enter this marquee which transports you to a frozen journey through Scotland’s rich history - with a bone chilling temperature of -10degrees.

All manner of Celtic mythology and real characters have been carefully crafted into sculptures for an enchanting attraction that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Game of Thrones.

From the Loch Ness monster to the Forth Bridge and Mary Queen of Scots, Scotland’s icons have all been reimagined in spectacular ice form.

Photo by Digital Triangle Creative Ltd

Photo by Digital Triangle Creative Ltd

No visit to Scotland is complete without a whiskey and there’s an ice bar at the end of the adventure where you can pick up a warming Shackleton hot toddy to see you on your way.

•For more on Edinburgh’s Christmas visit http://www.edinburghschristmas.com


Review: La Clique Noel, Festival Square, Edinburgh, until January 6

Just when you think Edinburgh couldn’t get any more glittery this Christmas, it’s also playing host to the gloriously bawdy cabaret show, La Clique Noel.

Head through the spiegeltent curtains in Festival Square to enjoy this fruity festive number which features burlesque, acrobats, comedy, sword-swallowing, music and more.

La Clique Noel. Photo by www.iangeorgesonphotography.co.uk

La Clique Noel. Photo by www.iangeorgesonphotography.co.uk

Get ready to shake your tinsel and leave your inhibitions at the door as the troupe of world class performers leave you feeling hot under the collar despite the sub-zero temperatures outside.

The raunchy ring master for this band of merry performers comes in the form of the lascivious Bernie Dieter whose debauchery, including encouraging members of the audience to hold her aloft, is a hoot to watch.

Performances come thick and fast, from the electric burlesque of Vicky Butterfly and her dazzling butterfly dance to the awe-inspiring aerial skills of Tim Kriegler who puts on a breathtaking show above the crowd.

Like all good cabarets, there’s comedy too, in the form of giant blue bunny Scott Grabell who tickles ribs with his daft physical comedy, even if his outfit is the stuff of Donnie Darko-esque nightmares.

Meanwhile, the circus sideshow antics of Heather Holliday will have you wincing and gulping in equal measure as she swallows swords and breathes fire like it’s as easy as gargling mouthwash.

Adding some Cuban spice to the proceedings is Johnny Rey who puts on a sultry and eye-wateringly athletic male pole dance to the tune of Prince’s Purple Rain.

Linking the performances is the brilliant musicianship of Dannie Bourne and the La Clique Palais Orkestra who put in a high-octane performance that transports you to the jazz age of a subterranean Speakeasy.

This is a two-hour tour-de-force of entertainment that will see you merging from the tent with a real festive twinkle in your eye.

Top Tips for Edinburgh’s Christmas markets

•Getting There

There are regular daily trains from Newcastle Central to Edinburgh Waverley with Virgin Trains East Coast. Prices start from £10.30.

•Where to Stay

For a budget stay, try the Motel One Edinburgh-Royal which is literally a hop, skip away from Waverley Station. This chain combines purse-friendly prices with a sleek, contemporary design and features a trendy bar area and rooms that overlook the Princes Street Gardens attractions. Prices start from £59 per room.

•Free attractions

Entry to the markets is free and there’s a host of other free events to take in. Highlights include the 24 Doors of Advent, running until Christmas Eve, which allows you to explore corners of the city which are usually closed to the public, such as Trinity House, Mansfield Traquair and Lauriston Castle. Also running until Christmas Eve is the Giant Advent Calendar, which will be projected onto General Register House, with 24 glimpses of Edinburgh Winters from years gone-by, one revealed each day throughout advent. Images are projected at varying times from 5.30pm to 10pm every day, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you’re passing.