Christmas in Edinburgh 2009

Winter Wonderland in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens

Updated September 2011

The Winter Wonderland in Princes Street Gardens is in the heart of Edinburgh's Christmas celebrations. The public park becomes a magical place with fairground rides, rollercoasters, sideshows, Bungy Snowdome and Britain's largest outdoor ice rink making it the ideal place for a great family fun day out.

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The Winter Wonderland is officially opened by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh on Thursday, November 26th 2009. The event also sees the launch of other Christmas attractions in Edinburgh, including the Ferris Wheel, as well as all of its holiday decorations being switched on.

The Winter Wonderland in Edinburgh is open for nearly 5 weeks, from late November until early January, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy its magical atmosphere.

Ice rink in East Princes Street Gardens

The ice rink in Princes Street Gardens is probably the most picturesque skating venue in the world. To the West, above the hot food stands, there's the National Gallery of Scotland, the Mound precinct with the illuminated German market and of course, the striking Edinburgh Castle perched proudly atop the Castle Rock.

The East side of the ice rink is flanked by the colourful fairground for younger children -- it has a family rollercoaster going through the core of the Big Apple, carousel rides and spinning wheels. Decorated trees on the south side hang above the skating rink and reflect in the ice to give Edinburgh that extra sparkle.

The hot food stands in Edinburgh's Princes Street Garden have a wide range of delicious festive foods ranging from mince pies, shortbread and crepes as well as traditional Christmas drinks. It's the best place to eat in Edinburgh city centre at Christmas time.

The Big Edinburgh Wheel

If the Scott Monument is one of Edinburgh's most recognizable landmarks then the Ferris Wheel next to it is Edinburgh's most distinctive Christmas feature. The Edinburgh Wheel is nearly as tall as the Scott Monument itself and its shape and lights can be seen from any vantage point in the city (especially good views of it are from Calton Hill and the Scott Monument itself).

The unique view of Edinburgh sparkling at night from the top of the Christmas Wheel makes it a must-try experience. It is so magical, in fact, that a couple got engaged on the Edinburgh Wheel a few years back.

To the right of the Winter Wonderland Wheel there is a traditional carousel for those of you feeling nostalgic, a flying carousel for those looking for more excitement before Christmas and the Bungydome, a state-of-the-art acrobatic bouncing experience.

The Traditional Highland Village Christmas Market can also be found here with stalls selling crafts, good food, designer jewelry and winter clothing essentials. Crazy Hogmanay hats can also be bought here in advance.

West Princes Street Gardens

Although not glittering with lights like the rest of the Winter Wonderland, West Princes Street Gardens is an important part of Edinburgh's Christmas festivities and home to Santa's reindeer. Children can come and pay them a visit and even post their Christmas wishes in the special Santa Postbox. Santa then collects the mail when he comes to feed his Reindeer twice a day.

The Santa Express is the latest addition to Edinburgh's Christmas Wonderland. Kids can take a trip through West Princes Street Gardens aboard a real train. Train stops include the Reindeer Garden and the Nativity Scene.

While Santa's Reindeer Garden and Santa Express are a family attraction, couples can enjoy a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride along the lanes of West Princes Street Gardens.

The famous Edinburgh Floral Clock in West Princes Street Gardens was used for years as the stage for yet another of the Christmas celebrations in Edinburgh, the Nativity Blessing Service, an uplifting spectacle of music and carol singing from a local gospel choir. This year, the Nativity Scene has been moved to St Andrew's Square.

» 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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