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How to Have a Very ‘Merry’ Edinburgh Christmas 2016

For adults who are a bit bah humbug

(Last Updated On: December 31, 2017) 

As much as I try, living in Edinburgh makes it almost impossible to ignore Christmas. There’s so many Christmas events I can barely leave the house without tripping over some tinsel or being blinded by whole buildings covered in twinkly lights. But this year I’m going to enjoy it, and you can too, because almost everything I’m about to mention can be accompanied with alcohol. Brilliant.

Of course, I’m in no way condoning excess consumption of alcohol. I mean, nobody wants a hangover. I’m just saying if you’re a bit of a Scrooge this time of year there’s no need to run and hide. Embrace it. And embrace a glass or two while/during/after you’re doing any of the below and you’ll have a warm fuzzy glow to take the edge right off all that damned Christmas spirit.

The Edinburgh Drive In Spectacular

Edinburgh Christmas Drive In

Photo – Edinburgh Drive In

This year, for five days leading up to Christmas we all get the opportunity to watch Christmas films on the world’s biggest outdoor LED screen. In the middle of winter. In a field. The winter bit aside, I love most things retro, so this might be a bit of fun. If I had a car. The organisers are promising ‘fun and games before the event’, whatever that means, and there’ll be Christmas themed snacks available plus the Lapland Christmas market right next door. I’d BYO hot water bottles too, just in case.

Drinks Menu – let someone else be the designated driver and keep yourself warm with some mulled wine. With a Christmas Market just next door though, you’re sure to be able to get some there if you didn’t bring your own.

Christmas Market Drinks

Edinburgh Christmas Market

The Christmas Markets usually fill me with dread – crowds, overpriced dust collectors, screaming kids, crowds – but they do have one thing  to make me forget all that, or two or three or four things; festive drinks. In the European Market on Princes Street alone there’s The Bailey’s Bar, Gin and Drambuie Hot Toddy’s, Gluhwein (mulled wine, either as is or with brandy), Mulled Cider, Pims Hot Cups and something called Edinburgh Christmas Ale. Sorted.

Drinks menu – ummm see above?

The Famous Spiegeltent

The Famous Spiegeltent

Some shenanigans from one of last year’s shows

Each Christmas, St James Square is host to this famous little big-top. It’s an old style traveling entertainment venue that hosts cabaret, circus, comedy and music events up until the new year. You can usually get last minute cheap tickets under £15 and the tent’s quite cozy so even if you’re seated in the back you’ve still got a great view. Considering the amount of audience participation in most shows, maybe that’s a good plan if you’re shy.

Drinks Menu – there’s the Scottish Market just outside the tent and wine, beer and fizzy stuff inside.

Virgin Money Street of Light

Edinburgh Christmas

Photo – Edinburgh Christmas

Here’s some corporate sponsorship at its most (cough) dazzling. Twice a night, from now until Christmas eve, you can stroll along a section of The Royal Mile that’s been kitted out with enough lights to illuminate a black hole, all the while being serenaded by various local choirs while the pretty lights turn on and off in time to the music. It’s a free event but you need to book tickets online beforehand. It’s bound to packed (unless like last night the torrential rain keeps people away) but it’s only 15 minutes long, so even those of us afflicted with crowdaphobia can probably handle it.

Alcohol content – Well when you’re smack in the middle of Old Town, you can pretty much swing your arms and be guaranteed to hit a pub or bar. If you want to keep up the festive vibe, try finding The Secret Polish Vodka Bar and have some of their Eggnog Vodka. Tastes just like condensed milk to me. Dangerously yum.

Summerhall Christmas Market

Summerhall Edinburgh

Photo – Magnus Hagdorn

For one day only (this year it’s the 13th December) the popular arts venue at the end of The Meadows will be set up with 50 stalls crammed full of all sorts of Christmas nick-nacks. If you want to be crowned the best Kris Kringle giver in the office this year, you’ll be guaranteed to find an original gift here. Plus you’ll be supporting local artists. There’s a £2 entry fee for those over 18, tickets available at the door plus food vendors and entertainment throughout the day.

Drinks Menu – there’s Gluhwein and if you weren’t concentrating earlier that’s mulled wine, and Summerhalls’ own on site brewer, Barney’s Beer.

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