Are you hanging out your garland of dried orange and cinnamon on the wall? Is it time that every mug of glühwein comes to call?
Well it certainly is in Edinburgh right now, Edinburgh’s Christmas is now very much underway. Once again the city centre is in the festive spirit with markets, performances, rides and plenty of festive spirit and cheer. The markets are busy, the smell of gluhwein is in the air and everyone is wondering if the view from the Starflyer is as good as we’re imagining.
This year Christmas is spreading it’s charming glow, with the festivities spreading out across St Andrew Square and both levels of East Princes Street Gardens – the work on the buildings around St Andrew Square means that the Starflyer has had to move, but this has paved the way for an exciting new ice rink. This year there are three main areas to enjoy: East Princes Street Gardens, St Andrew Square and Santaland (in the lower part of East Princes Street Gardens).
Princes Street Gardens
The top of the gardens – from the square at the National Gallery to Waverley bridge – has long been part of our Christmas festivities and this year is no exception. The Big Wheel has been here the last few years and it returns for 2014, this year joined by the StarFlyer beside the Scott Monument (which I think makes it look taller than ever, and just a little too close to the spiky edge of the monument). Alongside the big attractions, Princes Street Gardens is home to a beautiful two-level carousel as well as the family skating rink, positioned opposite Jenners. The largest part of the area though is the European market. Covering all of the gallery plaza and stretching out across the top of the gardens (presumably on some platform, as I’m sure this part is usually quite a steep little slope). Here you can get all you imagine you could get in a (somewhat stereotyped) ‘European’ Christmas market – bratwurst, garlands of fruit and spices, mulled almost anything. This market has faced criticism in previous years for being very samey, over priced and inauthentic; I feel this is liable to be a bone of contention again, but it looks and smells great. They’ve made a bar in the shape of a carousel though, so surely we will forgive the rest? (Although you could definitely also go for a little hunt to other local independent places for Christmas culinary goodness).
St Andrew Square
St Andrew Square was used for the first time last year, and it’s back for 2014 with even more. The Spiegeltent has retained its place in the square, with an eclectic variety of shows throughout the festival to suit all ages – it goes from The Stick Man (by Julia Donaldson, of Gruffalo fame) to the ridiculous sounding Briefs: The Second Coming. Returning for a second year too is the Scottish Market – filled with edible, drinkable and wearable delights from across the land (I spotted everything from tweed bags to hot toddies). The Square also has a this year’s helter skelter and another carousel, and most excitingly a new ice rink. This new addition goes against the tradition of one big open space, as it’s oval shape traces a path around the bottom of the Melville Monument, making it a much more interesting skating sensation – a sensation no doubt assisted by the Monument Bar, which wraps itself around the column’s base.
Santaland has a distinctly more family vibe. With the Santa Train, a Christmas tree maze and a whole selection of rides and attractions for kids of all ages it is nicely contained in the sunken part of East Prince Street Gardens. If you’re in town with kids this place is going to be a welcome relief from the crowds in shops.
New for this year – after a bit of an uproar from residents last year – Edinburgh residents can now get a 20% discount on all tickets and attractions. Simply bring along something with your address (must be an EH postcode) on it – such as a driving license, utility bill, etc. – on it and you’ll get a 20% discount!
If you want more information either Tweet Edinburgh Editor or you’ll find full details on the Edinburgh’s Christmas website.