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A Quick Guide to the Christmas Markets in Scotland in 2023

A Quick Guide to the Christmas Markets in Scotland in 2023

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I just love going to the Christmas Markets in Scotland every year- it’s one of the highlights when the temperature and daylight hours plummet over winter.

Winter wasn’t always filled with Christmas cheer, however. Did you know that Christmas was banned in Scotland for over 400 years? It was outlawed in 1640 by the Parliament of Scotland, and only became a public holiday in 1958!

When it comes to Christmas now, Scotland certainly makes up for lost time. Each year Christmas markets pop-up throughout the country, and Scots cross their fingers for a white [rather than grey] Christmas.

I’ve been to two of Scotland’s most popular Christmas Markets: the Edinburgh Christmas Market and Glasgow’s Christmas Market in George Square. This is my inside glimpse into each of these markets, what you can expect, and how best to plan your day!

Listen to the Life in Scotland podcast episode: Christmas in Scotland

The Best Christmas Markets in Scotland

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Opening dates: 17 November 2023 – 6 January 2024

One of the biggest Christmas Markets in Scotland is the Edinburgh Christmas Market. For 6 weeks from November to January, it takes over Princes Street Gardens in the city centre.

Princes Street Gardens is the perfect location for Christmas celebrations- encased by Edinburgh’s grandiose buildings and situated right next to the Edinburgh Waverly train station.

Hanging out at the Christmas Markets in Scotland!

Entry is free but be prepared to spend some pennies as it’s pricey inside [but worth the experience]. It can be chaotic- so prepare to brave the crowds and guard your Glühwein from spilling!

There are over 15 Christmas-themed rides for adults and children, and speaking of children, you can take them to the Santa land section where there are games and a pretty cool Christmas tree maze.

The Haggis and I wandered around the stalls, drank Glühwein and mulled cider, and snacked on Kinder chocolate crêpes.

Drinking Glühwein at the Edinburgh Christmas Market

My favourite time to visit the Edinburgh Christmas Market is when it’s dark- I’m a tad obsessed with Christmas decorations and fairy lights [it’s the romantic in me] so make sure you go when everything is lit up!

>> Read More: The best things to do in Edinburgh in winter

Glasgow Christmas Market

Opening dates: Various

Glasgow’s Winterfest Christmas event will take place in George Square and St Enoch Square.

Here are the opening dates for each:

  • George Square – Saturday, November 25 and until January 4, 2023. 
  • St Enoch Square – Saturday, November 10 until Saturday, December 30 2023

The Glasgow Christmas Markets aren’t as big as the Edinburgh Christmas Market, but they are a lot less overwhelming.

⁠I recommend checking out both of these Christmas Markets- and there are plenty of fun pubs around if you want to make a night of it on the toon’.

You can grab your tickets here.

In case you didn’t know, Elfingrove, a Christmas event at the Kelvingrove Art Galleries, has been cancelled. Organisers say it was cancelled this year due to rising costs.

Shopping at the Glasgow Christmas Market

Here are my tips and things to try at the Glasgow Christmas Market.

  • Ride the Giant Wheel
  • Go ice skating at the rink! Each session lasts 45 minutes and skate hire is included in the ticket price
  • Try Buckfast Mulled Wine (isn’t this the most Glasgow thing you’ve ever heard of?!)
  • Get your photo taken in the gigantic sparkly snowglobe
  • Slide down the vintage Helter Skelter
  • Buy a decoration for your Christmas Tree
  • Warm yourself up with a traditional Glühwein or a beer in one of the pop-up pubs
  • Treat yourself with a doughnut or chocolate covered churros!

>> Read more: Opening hours for Christmas and Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Riding the merry-go-round at the Glasgow Christmas Market

What are your favourite of the Christmas Markets in Scotland?

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