Festive madness and holly jolliness are on their way with the start of the seven week Edinburgh’s Christmas 2023 tomorrow (Friday, 17 November).
As in previous years, Edinburgh’s official Christmas festival will be concentrated in four main city centre sites: St Andrew Square, East Princes Street Garden, West Princes Street Garden and the ice rink on George Street.
The Christmas festival, running until Saturday 6 January 2024, is produced by UniqueAssembly on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council.
The Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street Garden will host a programme of live concerts, ceilidhs, silent discos, carol concerts, a “pup-tastic” Santa Paws event, and Diwali Celebrations on 19th November.
First up will be Edinburgh’s Christmas Opening Concert, the official launch of festivities on Saturday 18 November with a welcome speech from the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, plus performances from the Little Stars Big Voices Choir, Dance@Studio21, Siamsoir Irish Dance Performance Troupe, and Sprog Rock.
A storytelling Santa will be setting up a temporary home in St Andrew Square. The New Town square is also the location for a Post-Box and Letter Writing Station where elves will be helping kids post their requests off to the North Pole.
The Edinburgh's Christmas ice rink returns to George Street (with a new sponsor) and carnival rides will rise and fall by the Scott Monument in East Princes Street Gardens, including a 46m tall ferris-wheel, the TechnoPower, the Starflyer, and the Helter Skelter.
The infamous or famous Christmas Market (depending on who you talk to) returns to East Princes Street Gardens with food, drink and crafty stalls. It gets going early in the evening on Friday.
Other Christmas events
As always there are festive exhibitions and events taking place across Edinburgh.
Pantomime favourites Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young join The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan (25 Nov – 31 Dec) at the Festival Theatre; The Snow Queen (23 Nov – 31 Dec) makes her way to The Lyceum; the Balkan bad boys of puppetry bring Boris & Sergey's A Christmas Carol (A Cabaret) (12 – 21 Dec) to Assembly Roxy; and the 14th annual Edinburgh International Magic Festival (20 – 31 Dec) comes to Edinburgh with performances from Elliot Bibby, Cameron Gibson, Kevin Quantum, and more. Check our reviews.
Christmas at the Botanics (16 Nov – 30 Dec) returns with a botanical illuminated trail for all ages; The Polar Express Edinburgh steams its way into Waverley Station for a theatrical experience modelled on the movie (30 Nov-22 Dec); and Christmas at the Palace takes place at the Palace of Holyroodhouse with Exclusive Evening Tours and a Carol Concert in the State Apartments.
Summerhall hosts its Big Christmas Weekend (1 – 3 Dec) with arts, Christmas creativity, and wreath making workshop; the Christmas Arts Market (2 – 10 Dec) returns to Out of the Blue Drill Hall; Edinburgh’s Zoo Winter Village (1 Dec – 7 Jan) comes to Corstorphine; and the Tron Kirk Market (1 Nov – 1 Jan) boasts over 20 Scottish artists and designers all affiliated with the Scottish Design Exchange.
Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Val Walker said: “It’s fantastic that Edinburgh’s Christmas is opening to the public this week, and I can’t wait to experience the magic alongside our residents and visitors.”
“We’re exceptionally proud of the internationally stellar reputation that our Winter Festivals command and I’m sure this year will be every bit as special.”
Edinburgh’s Christmas website moved last year after the Council appeared to inadvertently drop the longtime domain name during the handover of contracts to produce the event. The old domain - which even former Edinburgh’s Christmas producer Underbelly still links to - was scooped up by an online gambling site.
Edinburgh’s Christmas runs Fri 17 Nov 2023 - Sat 6 Jan 2024.