Edinburgh: A thoroughly European Christmas market in Scotland
By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 26, 2014
The smell of sausage and mulled wine wafts through the evening air.
It could be anywhere in Germany around Christmastime, but it is not.
It is Edinburgh, Scotland, but the aroma does not lie. We are at the European Christmas Market in the Scottish capital.
There is not much different here from what there is at a Christmas market in central Europe: stands selling Christmas ornaments, grilled bats and the hot, spiced wine; children screeching with delight as they ride the merry-go-round; and Christmas carols floating melodically through the cold night air.
One might ask, Why go all the way to Edinburgh when you can go to an original Christmas market in Germany? Well, during the day you can explore the city, with Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace among the highlights, and in the evening, after having your fill of Glühwein, you can switch to Scotch whisky-based hot toddies.
The Christmas market takes place in the East Princes Street Gardens, right in downtown Edinburgh, near the train station.
Besides the stands and the merry-go-round, there is a Ferris wheel that offers a brilliant view of Edinburgh castle, high on a nearby hill, and the city itself. At the foot of the ride is an ice skating rink where you can work off all of the excess calories you might have gained eating all the goodies.
Nearby, on St. Andrew Square, there is a smaller market, the Scottish Market. Here you can try local specialties such as Scotch, craft beer and haggis or scones. Scottish crafts are also for sale here.
This year St. Andrew Square features an ice rink and Helter Skelter, a tall tower slide that offers a view over sparkling Christmas lights before you slide back to the earthly fun.
On the lower level of East Princes Street Gardens, beneath the Scottish National Gallery, is Santa Land, a paradise for the wee ones that offers a children’s market with face painting, the Santa Train and a Christmas tree maze.
There is plenty to do, smell, eat and drink in Edinburgh at Christmastime, and if you want a slightly different look at European Christmas fun, the Scottish capital is the place to be.
Most of the Christmas action takes place at East Princes Street Gardens and on St. Andrew Square. The markets are open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 4, 2015.
There are many other things going on in Edinburgh through the end of the year, including “24 Doors of Advent.” During each day of this event, which runs from Dec. 1 through Dec. 24, a different building that is usually closed to the public will open its doors. The Great Edinburgh Santa Fun Run, which takes place on Dec.14, is a charity event that features Santas running a two-kilometer course through East Princes Street Gardens.
For information, go to http://www.edinburghschristmas.com.