It’s quite possibly one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK, especially for those of us in the North that can’t nip down to London’s Winter Wonderland. I’m actually quite shocked at this but before the weekend I’d actually never been to Edinburgh’s Christmas Market. A few years ago we were in Edinburgh for our family annual Christmas Day of fun, but that consisted mainly of drinking so we just passed along the top of the market, we didn’t actually experience it.
Last year I went to Manchester, which was good, and this year I went to Paris at the start of the month, but I was pretty excited to go to Edinburgh at the weekend with Kieran’s family for their annual festive trip. It was so much fun, definitely the most Christmassy day I’ve had this year, even beating Secret Santa and my work Christmas party. I think this was due to a mix of the scale of it, spanning three tiers down the hillside of East Princes St Gardens, and the Christmas songs being played in the background. Here’s my top six picks from the market, and why you should make the trip if you can this Christmas:
1. The Venetian Carousel
My favourite thing at the whole market was the Venetian Carousel. If it had been just me and Kieran there’s no way I could have gone on it. He would point blank refuse and I’d look like a weirdo going on by myself. Thankfully both Kieran’s mam and sister were up for it so we gracefully (!) hopped on the ornate white horses with feather plumage. They may be childish, but they look so pretty all lit up especially when it gets dark.
2. The Food
The choice of food was probably the most varied I’ve seen at any Christmas market, the seafood van looked amazing with prawn skewers and Great British fish and chips, as well as oysters and lobster. There was a grilled salmon sandwich shack, with full salmon slapped on wooden planks being grilled over an open fire. I’m not a hot salmon fan, it needs to be practically alive and lying over some sticky sushi rice for me, but they looked delicious and it’s something I’ve seen in photos of fish markets in Hamburg.
Obviously there were all the usual crepes, waffles and churros, but for something sweet we had to try the chocolate fountain. With a choice of white, milk or dark chocolate, and four different combinations of fruit and marshmallow skewers they were just too tempting to pass on.
I also got a German Bratwurst hot dog, in a soft white hot dog bun and lathered with ketchup and mustard. I was absolutely FURIOUS when I had one bite left – the perfect bite as well with a bit of everything on it and some child running laps around the picnic table knocked into me and it flew clean out my hand onto the floor. I can’t express how devastated I was, so obvs I got a tray of chips to make up for it.
3. The pub atmosphere
For a sheltered beverage, and one where you’re more likely to get a seat there’s a pub right in the middle of the market. It’s decorated like a Scottish cottage, with tartan framed photos, and grouse on the wall, as well as a full fire and roof terrace overlooking the market. It was nice to warm up for a bit, and sit down rather than walking around with a paper cup. It was very cosy by the fire. I also noticed there was a distinct lack of children, which was actually quite nice if you don’t want your food and drinks in harms way – not that I’m bitter.
4. The drink selection
All the usuals you would expect to find were everywhere you looked, mulled wine and mulled cider, but there were also sloe gin options, every type of hot chocolate imaginable and an entire hut dedicated to Baileys. As is the case at most markets you could also pay once for an Edinburgh Christmas market mug, that you keep at the end of the day but refill throughout your visit.
5. The Christmas gifts
OK so I actually think a lot of gifts you find at a Christmas market can be naff, especially the smaller ones where there’s not that much and it’s the same old shite. Edinburgh did in all honesty have a lot more to offer. There were some pretty home decorations, very nice tartan scarves of all colours, and the chorizo and cheese looked pretty good from the Farmer’s Shop, as did the Scottish shortbread. If I wasn’t stuffed from chocolate fountain, a hot dog and a plate of chips I probably wold have got the shortbread.
6. Edinburgh itself
When you’ve finished wandering around the markets there’s also the city itself. It really is beautiful especially with all the Christmas lights along George Street. There are some good shops too – hello Anthropologie – and any number of restaurants if you want a proper meal. Definitely book up in advance if you know where you want to go though, most places had an hour wait minimum for walk ins. We ate at a lovely little Greek place, which despite it’s small size had a big menu and very friendly staff.
Edinburgh’s Christmas market, unlike many others is open right through until January 7th 10am-10pm every day. There are some exceptions like Christmas Day and New Year’s Day but you can find full details on their website. If you have time over the Christmas break, or if you’re heading up there for New Year then you should definitely go through the market, even if it’s just for a quick go on the Venetian Carousel. Thank you to Kieran’s mam for planning a lovely day for us.
Take a look at some of my other Christmas posts:
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