It may only be marginally warmer than Lapland, but when it comes to getting you in the festive mood Edinburgh is about as Christmassy as you can get without flying to the North Pole.
Over the years the Scottish capital has built up a strong reputation for its Christmas entertainment offering, helping it to become one of Britain’s best bringers of festive cheer. For 2018 the Edinburgh elves have been beavering away all year to put together a six-week programme of events and attractions featuring everything from bratwurst to burlesque.
The obligatory Christmas markets once again span East Princes Street Gardens selling all manner of home-made trinkets and more sausage than you can shake a stick at, but there are also a number of rides and spectacles which punctuate the city’s gothic skyline for the festive season.
For a bird’s eye view of the attractions head to the Big Wheel in Princes Street Gardens, which runs daily from 10am to 10pm, offering picture postcard views of the city’s twinkling market in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
For those with even more of a head for heights, make sure your trainers are tied tightly and head for the Star Flyer, also in East Princes Street Gardens, which, at 60 metres high, makes you feel like you’re skimming the capital’s rooftops from its whizzing chairs.
One of the most striking features of this year’s programme is the Silent Light installation, a striking display of arches in George Street, which runs from 4.45pm daily. Under the 60,000 lights which flicker in tune to the music, visitors can don headphones for a silent disco of Christmas tracks, featuring Mariah Carey and more.
•Edinburgh’s Christmas 2018 runs until January 5. There’s a mixture of free and ticketed attractions, curated by Underbelly, which are priced from £4.50. For tickets visit www.edinburghschristmas.com, Tel: 0131 510 0395 or buy tickets on the day from the box offices St Andrew Square, East Princes Street Gardens, George Street and Santa Land.
•LNER operate a number of daily direct services from Newcastle to Edinburgh Waverley, a stone’s throw from the markets. For timetables and prices visit www.lner.co.uk
Review: La Clique Noël Part Deux, Festival Square, Edinburgh, until January 5
Get ready to shake your baubles as La Clique Noël Part Deux brings a gloriously bawdy burlesque twist to Edinburgh’s Christmas offering.
Head to the specially-constructed spiegeltent at Edinburgh’s Festival Square over the festive season to catch this curiosity shop of performers as they wow with everything from camp comedy to sword swallowing and an aerial spectacular above a bath tub that really makes a splash.
A spin off from the La Clique Edinburgh Fringe show, this is the second year La Clique Noël has brought some cheekiness to the city’s programme of Christmas entertainment.
At the helm of this kaleidoscope of cabaret performers is Bernie Dieter, a whirlwind of debauchery with a touch of the Sally Bowles about her who keeps the audience in the palm of her manicured hand as she introduces the various acts.
Each has the X factor in their own way. Heather Holliday has you wincing as she swallows a sword as easily as an ice lolly on a hot day - all whilst looking cool as a cucumber with her tattoos and pin curls.
Then there’s magician Paul Zenon - him off the telly - who captivates with his sleight of hand and knack for comic timing, precision which you can’t help but admire when you’re this close to the stage.
The show is tamer than last year’s Part One, but there’s still the titillation of burlesque from a Marilyn Monroe-esque Mosh. And you’ll need hosing down after Stephen Williams’ act, which sees him perform am incredible feat of aerial acrobatics over, and in, a bath tub of water. Don’t worry, the front row are given protective clothing.
The seven circus and cabaret acts are joined on stage by a brilliantly accomplished live band, particularly trumpet player Eamon McNelis who’s as charismatic as the main performers in this show which really razzle dazzles.
•La Clique Noel has shows from Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets are price from £14.50 to £50.50 from EdinburghChristmas.com
Best of the Rest at Edinburgh Christmas 2018
•Christmas Tree Maze, East Princes Street Gardens
Get lost in this maze for little kids and kids at heart. The price is £4 per person.
•Ice Rink, St Andrew Square
Get your skates on at this family-friendly rink which circles around the Melville Monument. Prices £5-£12.50.
•Santa Land, East Princes Street Gardens
Lower Princes Street Gardens is transformed into a magical festive land for all the family and is particularly good for young children with its rides and attractions.
•Santa’s Grotto, Castle Street
Visits at this traditional attraction last up to 25 minutes and must be pre-booked for a specific time slot.
•Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar, East Princes Street Gardens
Warm yourself up with a whisky at this fairy light-lit bar, which is open daily from 10am-10pm.