Christmas in Edinburgh – Your 2021 Guide

17 Nov 2021

Christmas in Edinburgh - Events & Gifts

As the days grow shorter, something to get us through the increasingly dark mornings is the promise of Christmas: spending quality time with our loved ones, seeing the wonder of the season on our kids’ faces and, for those old enough to partake, mulled wine and Christmas parties that give you the chance to finally wear that sparkly dress or cheesy Christmas jumper.

After last Christmas was… ahem – a slightly different one – I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this year, we need to make the most of it. And luckily enough, Edinburgh, home of Blue Sky Photography, is known as one of the best cities for getting into the spirit of the season

So whether you’re after a spot of festive shopping, gorgeous light displays or a chance to sample some good food and drink, here’s our guide to Christmas in Edinburgh.


Alie x

Edinburgh Christmas Market

We have to start with the biggest player of the capital’s Christmas season – Edinburgh’s Christmas Market. It’s often ranked as one of the best in Europe, with thousands of tourists and locals alike descending on Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square to drink delicious hot drinks, shop for Christmas gifts and try out some of the exciting rides on offer.

After having to skip festivities in 2020 due to COVID-19, Edinburgh Christmas is back this year with lots of fun for the whole family. Festive rides like the Star Flyer and the Big Wheel are back at Princes Street Gardens, promising panoramic views of the city, while ice skating can be found on St Andrews Square. 

Younger kids can enjoy Santa Land at the bottom of Princes Street Gardens, complete with a Christmas tree maze, kids’ rides and gifts as well as a chance to meet Santa himself.

Market stalls spread across Princes Street Gardens and George Street will offer opportunities to enjoy some festive food and drink and find some Christmas gifts.


When are Christmas markets in Edinburgh opening?

This year, the various elements of the Christmas market open their doors from November 19 and 20, with festivities coming to a close on January 4.


Where to park in Edinburgh for the Christmas Markets?

Anyone who’s driven through Edinburgh city centre can attest to the city not being the easiest to find parking in, but fear not, we’ve got some pointers for you. 

Frederick Street, George Street, Hanover Street and Waterloo Place all offer pay and display parking within easy walking distance of Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square alike. Using public transport is also an option, with Waverley Station at the edge of the Christmas Market and the Edinburgh Bus Station less than a 10-minute walk away.


Edinburgh’s Christmas Lights

As we enter the shortest days of the year, taking a wintry stroll through the city streets to see some Christmas lights can do wonders to your mood and remind you that winter’s not just sleet and cutting wind – it can also be pretty magical! Edinburgh’s city centre is illuminated throughout the festive season by shops and restaurants, but there are official light installations, too.

The Royal Mile always boasts the prettiest displays, with the lighting ceremony usually featuring a choir performance and other musical acts. The date for this hasn’t been confirmed quite yet, but this usually takes place in late November.

This year, Edinburgh Zoo also hosts its own Christmas lights display from December 11th through to January 1st. The Botanic Gardens also has a lights display on this year, up and running from November 26, while Edinburgh Castle turns its festive lights on starting November 19.


Christmas Gifts in Edinburgh

Shopping for Christmas gifts in the Scottish capital has never been easier. The new St James Quarter shopping centre, a mere stone’s throw from the Christmas Market, boasts shopping opportunities from high street favourites like H&M and Other Stories to more premium labels like The Kooples and Calvin Klein as well as food and beauty stores like Hotel Chocolat and Rituals.

The nearby George Street and the various streets and lanes surrounding it offer goods from independent boutiques to big labels.


Christmas Photography Experiences in Edinburgh

Whether you want to gift a loved one an unforgettable experience or take some Christmas card photos with your family, Blue Sky has you covered.

Our Scandi holiday photoshoots run until December 11 and offer a chance for you and your family to create memories for years to come in our Edinburgh photography studio, decked in Nordic Christmas decor perfect for your photo gifts.

Make sure to book your Christmas photoshoot early to avoid disappointment. You can use the resulting pictures in Christmas cards or make personalised gifts with them, including things like precious prints perfect for any grandparents’ living room wall.



Christmas Photography Gifts in Edinburgh

Let’s face it: most of us often find ourselves thinking we have too much stuff. And do we really need more of that? 

That’s why a photoshoot is such a great experience gift: while there’s a physical item at the end of it, like some lovely prints for your walls, its main purpose is to create lasting memories you and your family can cherish for years to come. Now there’s something you can’t just order from Amazon!

A photography experience can work as a gift for almost anyone. A newborn photoshoot would make for a perfect gift for expecting couples, while a family photography session would work for families with kids of all ages. 

For the young professionals and recent grads, a chance for some formal headshots could be useful, while couples can appreciate the chance to celebrate their love through a photoshoot whether it’s to celebrate an engagement or simply create beautiful memories.

If you’re not quite sure what kind of a photoshoot to buy as a gift, you can always opt for one of our gift cards and let your loved one pick their photography experience for themselves. You can browse our selection of photography gift cards here.