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Blog - Festive things to do for free in and around Edinburgh

Posted on 09/12/2013

If you are bored of spending yet another year round at your parents’ house, pulling crackers and vegetating in front of the TV, it’s probably time to rethink how you spend your time celebrating the Christmas holiday. Why not get away from home and spend a few days in a lively city like Edinburgh, where you’ve got the perfect mix of impressive tourist sites, a vibrant social scene and fantastic shopping? There’s such a lot to do in Scotland’s capital city, yet it’s surprisingly affordable. If you’re tight on money after blowing it all on family presents, you can still have a memorable weekend in Edinburgh on very little money. You’ll find plenty of festive attractions in Edinburgh, but what is great about these activities, is that they are absolutely free.

Christmas markets

Even if you haven’t got money to burn, Edinburgh’s Christmas markets are still a fantastic way to start your Christmas holiday. Simply strolling around the stalls and gift shops will get you right in the festive mood. Head over to the Mound precinct and East Princes Street Gardens to visit the European market for a really traditional Christmas experience, or try the Scottish Market to sample the best of Scottish beer and the finest Scottish delicacies. Edinburgh’s Christmas markets stay open right up to 5th January, so there’s plenty of time to immerse yourself in the food, crafts and atmosphere of this vibrant place.

Arthur's Seat

If you would rather get away from all the hustle and bustle of the Edinburgh lights, why not strap on your best walking shoes and climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat? You can get amazing views of the city landscape from the top of this extinct volcano, and it’s only a walk away from the city, situated in the centre of Holyrood Park. It’s a great photo opportunity, particularly if you’re planning to send some personalised Christmas cards back home.

Free live music

Believe it or not, Edinburgh gives you the opportunity to see live bands absolutely free. Spend an evening at Whistlebinkies, located on the corner of the Royal Mile and the Bridges, and you’ll get a chance to see some upcoming bands play live music throughout the week. Entry is completely free from Sunday to Thursday, but you can even get free entry on Fridays and Saturdays if you get there before midnight.

Relax in the park

The best way to nurse a hangover after a festive night is to spend a few hours hanging out in Princes Street Gardens. It’s a huge public space where locals enjoy some peace and quiet. Not only is it dominated by some famous Scottish monuments, particularly the imposing Edinburgh Castle, but during the festive period it is transformed into a “Winter Wonderland”. Take a casual stroll around the East Gardens and you’ll find The Edinburgh Eye, a huge ferris wheel, and the ice rink, a fabulous place for some festive people watching.