Following on from the silent nights of Christmas 2020, each of Scotland’s seven cities is taking the route back to full festive frolics at its own pace. We’re still not back to every city hosting a grand Christmas light switch-on, but there are many events around Scotland that show us we’re edging away from the restrictions of the pandemic.


Aberdeen has already had its big Christmas tree switch-on and is bringing back all the elements that make the festive season so colourful in the city.

The Christmas Village, set against the grand backdrop of Marischal College has the ice rink, fairground rides and a Christmas market in the quadrangle.

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Not everyone will be comfortable in crowds this year and for those who would like to get out and drink in a little Christmas spirit, there’s the opportunity to keep moving through the city centre with the 12 Days of Christmas Sculpture Trail.

It’s become something of a tradition in the city and has been part of its festive landscape since 2016 when local chainsaw carver, Garry Shand, created 12 striking totem poles that each depict one of the days from the carol. There’s also a puzzle to solve by locating them all.

Download the trail map from, locate each sculpture and take note of the letter on each – in the end they will spell the names of two of Santa’s reindeer.


In Dundee, the Slessor Gardens area between the Caird Hall and the new Urban Beach has allowed to the city to go big with celebrations.

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The Winterfest is located here, with a ferris wheel towering over the riverside, fairground rides, an ice rink, and a Christmas market. The City Square also has its share of events, illuminated by brand new Christmas lights designed for Dundee and featuring some of DC Thomson’s best-loved comic characters appearing alongside designs inspired by the city’s heritage.

On Sunday December 5, however, the city will be a riot of red and white as the annual charity Santa dash, raising money this year for Maggie’s – Everyone’s Home of Cancer Care. For an adult taking part costs £17, but this includes a full Santa Suit and then a medal and certificate. To take part, log on to Eventbrite and search for Santa Dash 2021 Dundee. This will detail costs for all ages and where to pick up your Santa suit.


As you can see from the offerings in Aberdeen and Dundee, Edinburgh isn’t getting its own way with Christmas now, but the spectacle of what the city offers in the shadow of one of Europe’s most iconic city backdrops is hard to beat. The city’s offering of ice-skating, fairground rides and a tiny city of traditional market huts lining Princes Street Gardens is expected, but there also a couple of events hosted by the National Trust for Scotland that make the most of Edinburgh’s rich and aesthetically pleasing history.

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On December 18 and 19 there will be readings of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at The Georgian House in the New Town. Dickens himself began the tradition of giving public readings of the story at this time of year. There will also be readings at NTS properties Gladstone’s Land and Newhailes. The ticket price includes a hot drink and a Victorian sweet treat.

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Also at Gladstone’s Land, on December 22, is Christmas Through the Ages where visitors can experience how Christmas would have been celebrated there from the 17th century through to the early-20th century with period-appropriate decorations, food and activities. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine (or non-alcoholic equivalent) included with the ticket. Tickets for the NTS events are available through Eventbrite.


Even though the city has decided against a live Christmas lights switch-on this year and the George Square Market has moved to St Enoch, there’s still plenty of traditional colour in the city over Christmas.

As Santa is to Christmas, Irn-Bru is to Glasgow, and the carnival which bears its name is back this year, at the SEC between December 22 and January 16.

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It’s Europe’s largest indoor funfair and had been part of the city’s festival season for more than a century now. Tickets need to be booked in advance at

Glasgow’s historic houses are offering traditional experiences too, with House for an Art Lover at Bellahouston hosting a Christmas Fayre next Sunday, November 28. Traditional gifts, food, music and even a festive film playing will get any Scrooges in the mood.

Over at Pollok House, there’s equal opportunity Christmas gift-wishing as Mrs Claus greets children who come along to take part in the festive trail, craft activities, Christmas sing-along and then meeting the great woman herself.

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The events take place at Pollok House on December 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 23, and 24. Tickets are available on Eventbrite, with each child needing an individual ticket.


At the time of writing, Highland Council’s events team was still discussing how best to bring Christmas celebrations back to the Highland capital.

Independent fairs and markets will happen from the city centre to Wildwoodz Adventure Park, where Exclusively Highlands will have an open air market with arts and crafts and the best foodie treats for the season.

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At Inverness Cathedral on December 10 there will be a concert showcasing “The Greatest Christmas songs of all Time. The Highland Hospice will benefit from this performance.


Perth has always upped its game at Christmas, much to the shame of its nearest neighbour Dundee (until now at least). This year the scope is smaller, with no in-person Christmas lights switch on, but the city has concentrated on quality.

Among the events on offer is Christmas Wonderland – the makers of Wondrous Woods at Hopetoun House are bringing this Christmas Wonderland to a twinkling trail along the banks of the River Tay.

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The colourful show with lights, sound and special effects will create the magical experience that we’re all looking for at Christmas on Norie Miller Walk in Perth city centre. If negotiating this Christmas extravaganza gives you an appetite, then there are food stalls for all tastes.

The trail makes its way in to gardens featuring merry-smerising sound, special effects, movement and installations. The trail heads on and finishes at the top of Norie Miller Walk.


Stirling is offering everything from ceilidhs at the Tolbooth to bauble making workshops to Christmas fayres to festive days out at Blair Drummond Safari Park.

One of the most popular events will be A Christmas Carol at the Castle from December 17 to 19.

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There can be few more atmospheric settings than Stirling Castle for these performances of Charles Dickens classic ghost story by Chapterhouse Theatre Company. With period costumes, an original musical score and performed in the Great Hall, it’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a Christmas story if panto isn’t your thing.

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Seating isn’t pre-allocated so if you use a wheelchair or need to bring an assistance dog contact the events team on 0131 668 8885 or to discuss your ticket options. Tickets are available from