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Things to do in Edinburgh at Wintertime

Spending Winter in Edinburgh

With the long summer days behind us and chilly nights ahead, we know just how tempting it is to head for the covers, snuggle down and wait for the winter months to pass. But with so many wonderful things happening all over the city, spending winter in Edinburgh is its own reward.

Edinburgh Christmas Market and Celebrations

Couple at Christmas Market with hot drinks and twinkling lights in the background

Whether it is your first trip to Scotland’s capital or you are simply looking for winter holiday ideas, Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals will not disappoint. At the end of November, Christmas in Edinburgh officially gets underway with the annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

All around the streets are decked in lights and tinsel, while a hurly-burly of festivities transforms Edinburgh into a dazzling display of all things merry. From fairground attractions to ice-skating and Christmas shopping at the Festive Markets, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the December holly-day.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Fireworks at Edinburgh's Hogmanay

One of our favourite parts of winter in Edinburgh is Hogmanay. Known the world over as the greatest New Year’s celebration of them all, the three-day winter festival has an amazing line up of torchlight processions, open street parties, traditional Scottish Ceilidhs and an unbelievable fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle. In short, it is an opportunity to show the rest of the world how to party. And since Parliament House Hotel is tucked away in the heart of all the action, our Hogmanay Packages mean you don’t have to worry about long walks, catching the bus or painful train rides home. The only thing you need to do is kick up your heels and dance into the wee small hours.

Winter Shows and Special Events

Giant Panda lanterns at Edinburgh Zoo

We all know that Christmas and pantomimes go hand-in-hand. And Christmas breaks in Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous line up of festive shows and events. The famous King’s Panto tells the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears this year. Edinburgh Playhouse, just around the corner from us, will be showing the award-winning musical Disney’s Lion King over the festive period. Plus, there are some magical immersive events to light up the dark evenings, including Christmas at the Botanics and the Giant Lanterns of China.

Spectacular Winter Views

View from Calton Hill Edinburgh on a snowy day

Edinburgh is beautiful all year round. And in winter, you can soak up stunning views from Calton Hill, just a short walk from our hotel. The city views from the top are simply breathtaking.

Many people wrap up warm and climb up Calton Hill on Hogmanay to watch the magnificent New Years fireworks display, as you get a great view. 

It’s a relatively easy up-hill walk, however do take care in the dark or if it’s an icy day.

Indoor Edinburgh Attractions

Black sign with gold writing for Royal Mile in Edinburgh

When the weather outside is frightful, you’ll find plenty of indoor activities and attractions around Edinburgh to explore. Take an underground tour of Mary King’s Close, where you’ll discover 17th century streets frozen in time beneath the Royal Mile. Or, learn about whisky production and have a wee tasting at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Then just across the road, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Where you’ll experience an array of mind-blowing optical illusions and trickery. There’s also Dynamic Earth down at Holyrood Park, which tells the story of our planet from the Big Bang to the present day. Then, if you need to relax, why not pamper yourself in one of the local spas or salons? 

Edinburgh’s Cosy Pubs and Restaurants 

Restaurant table set for dinner

What better way to warm up than with a dram of whisky by the fire? Edinburgh’s traditional pubs offer the perfect retreat after a busy winter’s day.

Our own MP’s Bistro, a cosy restaurant at the foot of Calton Hill, is the ideal venue for an intimate dinner and a few drinks. Here you can relax in the warmth, while planning tomorrow’s adventures. 

Edinburgh Winter Breaks

With so much to look forward to all winter long, one thing is certain. Winter in Edinburgh is the gift that keeps on giving! So, check out our Festive Offers and book your winter break today.

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