Luxury Scotland


Christmas & Hogmanay Festivities In Scotland

Written by Linda Jackson

A family Christmas in Scotland can be full of surprises: take part in a fun Santa Run, buy unusual Christmas gifts at Christmas markets, learn how to make Christmas wreaths, and discover enchanted Scottish castles.

By the time November melts into December, Christmas festivities in Scotland have been in full swing for a while. In fact, the festive season in Scotland swings into action as soon as November opens its doors; it’s then that the country begins to pull out all the stops to ensure that Scotland’s Christmas festivities will be the best ever.

To be honest, festive shopping in Scotland is a joy – there are craft stalls and hot mince pies at the Glasgow Christmas Fair; and fairground rides, a huge Ferris wheel, ice rink, food and drink stalls, as well as a bustling German Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Christmas shoppers can enjoy a ‘real’ Scottish Christmas Fair in Castle Street, Edinburgh, with hot food and drinks served with traditional Scottish music as well as an ‘ethical’ Christmas Fair where sustainable and ethical gifts can be purchased without having to rob a bank.

A three-day Christmas craft fair at Brodie Castle in the Highlands makes a great Scottish setting with a charming Victorian ambiance complete with Christmas carols, delicious food, and unusual Christmas presents. Book in advance though if you’d like to join a Christmas wreath-making session: all you need to take is your creativity as all materials will be supplied. In Fife enjoy Christmas candies, cakes, story-telling and traditional Christmas pudding making, plus a variety of activities and entertainment at the Mansion House.

Looking for great ideas for Christmas presents? There’s an unusual opportunity to get inspired by Robbie Burns himself, so head to his Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire for a Scottish Christmas shopping venue with a difference. Unique Christmas gift ideas can also be found at Stirling Castle which boasts log fires and mulled wine at its Christmas Shopping Fayre. Traditional Christmas carol singing in the atmospheric Great Hall is another notable Christmas event held at Stirling Castle in Scotland.


The festive season in Scotland wouldn’t be the same without a Christmas pantomime for all the family, so check out the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow or The Arches to find out whether Peter Pan or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer will be making an appearance.  As for fairy tales and enchanted castles, a visit to Culzean Castle in Ayrshire is a must – it really is an enchanted castle for children who can meet magical costumed characters from popular fairy tales. Not only that, but Santa has a Grotto there.

For children, and for many an adult come to that, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a Santa. One Santa is exciting enough, but in Edinburgh you can see thousands… and all in one place at the same time – numbers have reached as high as 2,500 although generally there are between 1,000 and 1,500 Santas all costumed-up. The Great Edinburgh Santa Run is an event organised by ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, a small charity whose principal objective is to grant the wishes of young children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

The Santa Run is held every Christmas time in Edinburgh; it’s a fun Christmas event for families in Scotland… and even the family pet. One participating Yorkshire terrier has really got the bit between its teeth; it’s been participating for around six years. Some might think the idea of a dog fund-raising is barking mad, but the other half-dozen dogs that join Yorkie on the Run are all for it.

The atmosphere on the day of the Santa Run is incredible; anyone can take part in the 2km run.  Santa costumes are handed out to adults and elf hats to children (to keep); most participants wear the costume all day as many shops in the city offer a discount that day to anyone wearing a Santa suit. Proceeds from the Santa Run are used to take some very ill children from all over Scotland to Lapland to meet Santa Claus himself.


Many castles and historic houses under The National Trust for Scotland umbrella hold magical Christmas events for children during November and December. Expect magic zones, fire and illumination entertainers, and an elves’ toy factory in Aberdeenshire; Mrs Claus in Glasgow and, just outside the city, Santa’s reindeer and elves.

Special Christmas meals are served throughout the festive season in wonderful historic house and castle settings in Scotland, where exclusive gifts, luxury home ware, delicious hampers, and unusual tartan Christmas decorations will be found.

For more information on Christmas events at The National Trust for Scotland properties go to


Festivities at Gleneagles

Special Christmas events held at Scotland’s luxury hotels during the festive season are aplenty:

In Edinburgh chefs at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa and at One Square Bar & Restaurant have been creative with their festive dining menus for party lunches and party nights, Christmas family lunches, Hogmanay, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day celebratory meals. The Hotel du Vin & Bistro at One Devonshire Gardens In Glasgow is cooking up a special treat for Hogmanay: terrine of class ‘A’ foie gras, and 32-day dry matured Cairnhill farm been fillet are included in the multi-course Hogmanay Tasting Menu.

In the west Highlands of Scotland guests at the Torridon (AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland 2012-2013) can join Santa to feed Highland Cows; go on a Christmas day guided walk, a treasure hunt, a clay pigeon shoot… or simply chill beside a log fire and relish afternoon tea, champagne and canapés, and local culinary delights such as mussels and langoustine.


Christmas at The Old Course

Sophisticated glamour and festive fun is promised every year during the Christmas period at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews.  As well as a Christmas Emporium with Christmas market, hog roast, Santa’s Grotto, a cake decorating class, and a Christmas dinner cooking Master Class, divine decadence is offered at the Masquerade Ball, plus glitz and glamour at the Moulin Rouge parties.

Secreted in a tranquil corner of East Lothian, the accomplished chefs at Chez Roux Restaurant at Greywalls create even more mouthwatering menus than usual for Christmas and Hogmanay celebratory dining: treacle cured organic salmon, braised haunch of Highland venison, roast crown of pheasant… mmm delicious.

In Perthshire, running up to Christmas, Gleneagles hosts a number of special Christmas events such as a classical music night with the Scottish Ensemble; Snowballs (dancing and live entertainment); a fire dancing show with fabulous fireworks (Festival of Fire); plus a festive dinner and dance with a star performer and live band.

Named Scottish Hotel of the Year in the 2013 Good Hotel Guide, Boath House, Nairn, is pulling out all the stops for their luxury Christmas menu; it’s sure to tantalize the taste buds of gourmands spending the festive season in Scotland. Gourmet delights include foie gras and pheasant, langoustine and truffle, red deer haunch, stilton and figs, eggnog parfait and mandarin sorbet.

Watch a fantastic firework display in Inverness while savouring festive food at Rocpool Reserve Hotel; there’s a stunning view over the Ness River from the restaurant balcony. Being only a ten-minute walk from Highland Meeting Park, Christmas guests at Rocpool can easily enjoy the vibrant New Year celebrations and entertainment of live bands, comedians, dancers, and bars and clubs that offer night-long entertainment.

Enjoy Christmas carols and singing by a children’s choir by candlelight in the Scottish Highlands on Christmas Eve at Inverlochy Castle at the start of the festivities. The castle also hosts a Hogmanay clay pigeon shoot followed by a champagne reception and black tie dinner. A traditional Highland piper pipes in the New Year, followed by a First Footer to bring good luck to all and bacon rolls from 12.30am. On New Year’s Day enjoy a sheep dog trial and falconry display in the castle grounds.

Hogmanay at George Square

As for Hogmanay in Edinburgh – it’s famous worldwide – and expected to kick off the New Year in style: up to 70,000 Street Party revellers are expected to enjoy the live music, entertainment and spectacular fireworks.

A torchlight procession starts the three-day festival, and 1st January sees the hardy taking the Loony Dook - a New Year dip in the chilling River Forth.

With festive late night shopping, atmospheric Christmas markets, fun Santa events, funfairs, enchanted castles, myriad Christmas events, a plethora of gourmet Christmas dining options, and the renowned Hogmanay festivities, where else would anyone want to celebrate Christmas and the New Year but in Scotland…  special in spring, scenic in summer, awesome in Autumn, but in winter… a wonderland.


We wish you all a very Merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year!

Luxury Scotland
Tel: +44(0)1786 821 860 
Fax: +44 (0)1383 825 700

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