Updated: Dec 14, 2022
December is upon us and it’s time for some Christmas cheer!
If you’re looking for some festive fun over the coming month, Scotland is the place to be. Here’s a roundup of some of the best Christmas days out around the country:
1. Christmas Fun - The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, Aviemore
Reindeer were reintroduced to the Cairngorms in the early 1950s and they’ve been roaming freely ever since. There are now as many as 150 of them! Unlike Rudoplh, these ones will turn their nose up at a carrot, preferring to graze on heather, sedges, lichens, blaeberry and birch. Just like Santa’s reindeer though, a few of these ones go on tour around the festive season, attending events and doing the usual reindeer business – pulling sleighs and the like – educating people of all ages about the species as well as providing a bit of festive fun. The reindeer who stay in the Highlands however, are available to visit!
You can visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd all throughout the year, but around Christmas they have some extra-special things going on. The paddocks are decorated with tinsel, there’s a Christmas quiz for kids and Santa himself even makes an appearance. This is all accessible for wheelchairs and prams, so the whole family can go along!
Find out more and book here.
2. The Edinburgh Christmas Market - Edinburgh
The infamous Edinburgh Christmas Markets need no introduction. There are plenty of Christmas markets open throughout December around Scotland - in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen to name a few – but Edinburgh’s has to take 1st place when it comes to scenic backdrops.
Located in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens right in the centre of town, the market boasts over 70 stalls housing traders from all over Europe selling beautiful and unique gifts as well as tasty food and drink. When you’re finished shopping, you can head up to George Street for a skate around the ice rink or down the gardens to Santa Land where kids can find their way through the tree maze, see the Nativity Mural, do some arts and crafts at the Elf Workshop or even meet Santa himself. For any animal lovers out there, this year the Edinburgh Christmas Markets have teamed up with the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home to bring you a Santa pet photoshoot! You can book to take your pet along for their very own festive photoshoot, with all proceeds going to charity. Customers are encouraged to bring along some pet food donations for the cat and dog home.
After all of that fun, you’ll likely have a wee drouth. Head back up to the markets for some very delicious mulled wine, boozy (or not, if you’re wee) hot chocolate or a hot spiced cider, 'tis afterall, the season.
3. Five Sisters Zoo Illuminations – West Lothian
The Five Sisters Zoo is a fantastic non-profit organisation in West Calder. Upholding the very highest of animal welfare standards, the zoo is home to over 165 species of animals from all around the world, including retired circus bears and lions and two bears rescued from a roadside restaurant in Albania.
Each Christmas, the zoo hosts their ‘Illuminations’ event, and this year it’s bigger than ever. Stroll around the zoo gazing at the spectacular lighting decorations and get up close and personal with the animals. You’ll be supporting a wonderful organisation as well as having a truly great time.
4. Festive Science – Glasgow Science Centre
The Glasgow Science Centre is renowned for making science tons of fun. Now, it has even managed to make it festive!
There are a variety of Christmassy activities to choose from at the Science Centre this year, including the Planetarium Show where you can follow Santa around the world delivering gifts using the stars as your guide and Festive Films for a Fiver – showings of Christmas favourites such as Elf and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the IMAX cinema for only five pounds per ticket.
5. Aberdeen Christmas Carols Concerts - David Welch Winter Gardens, Duthie Park, Aberdeen
What warms the cockles more than a Christmas carol? This year, the David Welch Winter Gardens will host three concerts by Bon Accord Silver Band supported by Capriccio choir on the 17th of December at 11am, 12:15pm and 3pm. Entry is free though limited, so make sure to get there early to ensure you get in. The Friends of Duthie Park are asking for donations to their foodbank appeal, so do take some non-perishable food items and toiletries along if you’re able to help spread some cheer to those in need this Christmas.