Christmas in Edinburgh 2009

Christmas lights and decorations in Edinburgh

Updated September 2011

The winter festival in Edinburgh kicks off with the Christmas Lights Night when all of the Christmas decorations and lights in the City Centre get switched on by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. The free event takes place in East Princes Street Gardens on Thursday, November 26th 2009 at 5.15pm and also features carol singing, fireworks and lots of fun.

The Christmas Lights Night is the most popular of all Edinburgh Christmas events.

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The Christmas Lights Night is a wonderful family event that also sees the official opening of the 3 main Christmas attractions on the same night: the Edinburgh Wheel, Winter Wonderland and the Traditional German Christmas Market.

Christmas decorations in Edinburgh City Centre

Edinburgh has seen a massive improvement in recent years in the city's Christmas lighting, turning it into a magical backdrop for the winter festival. What's more, the switching of the lights has become one of the most popular events during the winter festival. Here's what Edinburgh looks like at Christmas time:

  • The trees on the south side of Princes Street are beautifully decorated with lights right along its length.
  • East Princes Street Gardens is the heart of Christmas decorations with the huge Edinburgh Wheel next to the Scott Monument, the Winter Wonderland ice rink and kids playground in the gardens and the nearby tents, stalls and German Market all creating a myriad of colors and lights.
  • The famous Christmas tree on the Mound is the best known symbol of Edinburgh's winter festival. For years, Edinburgh has received this annual gift from the people of Hordaland, Norway in gratitude for the help and friendship received during World War II. The tree is usually picked by a young girl or boy, winner of a trip to Hordaland with the family.
  • George Street, the stylish street with classical Georgian features that runs parallel with Princes Street is lined up with large, beautifully lit Christmas trees along the middle and small, tree-shaped lights along the sides.
  • In 2009 the West End of Edinburgh joins the rest of the city centre with lights and decorations being placed in Alva Street, Stafford Street and William Street.
  • The Royal Mile, Edinburgh's historic street and the Grassmarket is also decorated with blue and silver lights as well as a Christmas tree being placed in Parliament Square by St Giles Cathedral.
  • The Grassmarket is another of Edinburgh's historic streets to be decorated with Christmas trees and lights.
  • Although not lights as such, the sideshows and fun rides from Market Street complete the overall image and atmosphere of sparkling Edinburgh.

Full listing of all Christmas Lights events in Edinburgh

The Christmas Lights Night in Princes Street Gardens is obviously the most important and spectacular event, not to be missed, but for the first time, there are other similar events taking place all around Edinburgh, celebrating the start of the Capital's Winter Festival:

  • Corstorphine Christmas Tree Lights Thursday 3rd December, 6pm at Corstorphine Old Parish Church - Local high school wind band and choir create a festive atmosphere as the Christmas Tree is lit.
  • Grassmarket Christmas Tree Lights Thursday 3rd December, 6pm - More than just the switching on of the Christmas Lights, the Grassmarket event means that many shops will stay open till late and give free mince pies to customers. There's also mulled wine to enjoy at Mama's Pizza.
  • Morningside Christmas Lights Monday 7th December, 7pm - The event takes place beside Pillar Clock on Morningside Road and sees the area's Christmas decorations switched on.
  • Newhaven Christmas Lights Monday 7th December, 7pm - Is the second event in the Leith area to kick start the winter celebrations.
  • South Queensferry Christmas Pageant Thursday 3rd December, 6pm - Although not in Edinburgh itself, the Christmas Pageant in South Queensferry is well worth going to. The family event includes live street entertainment, a Santa-led torchlight procession along the High Street and finishes off with the Christmas Light Switch On and release of 'Send a message to Santa' balloons.
  • Leith Christmas Lights Thursday 1st December, 4.45pm - The festivities kick off in Leith at the New Kirkgate Shopping Precinct where the Lord Provost of Edinburgh will turn on the Christmas decorations.
  • Silverknowes Christmas Event Friday 2nd December, 4pm - Piper-lead procession down to Davidson Mains Park where the Christmas Illuminations will be switched on. The procession starts from Davidson Mains Primary School and is joined by the school choir.
  • Gorgie/Dalry Christmas Lights Switch On Sunday 4th December, 6pm - The event includes carol singing from the Tynecastle High School Brass Band and St Martins Church Choir and award presentation to the winner of the 'Best Christmas Window Display' competition.

» Back to Edinburgh Christmas guide index

All Edinburgh Christmas articles:

Also see:

  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo - Information on Edinburgh's most popular summer event, part of the Capital's International festival taking place each August.
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay - Guide to the biggest New Year celebrations in Britain and continental Europe with four days of events.
  • Accommodation in Edinburgh - Tourist information on quality accommodation schemes, hotels and how to choose accommodation in Edinburgh.
  • Hotels in Edinburgh - Visitor information on choosing hotel accommodation in Edinburgh.

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