I’m a Glasgow girl and I love my city, but there’s something special about Edinburgh at Christmastime.
The city is bursting with festivities, evident as soon as you come out of Edinburgh Waverley train station.
East Princes Street Gardens is host to one of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets (edinburghschristmas.com)offering a range of goodies from street food vendors, including crispy prawn tacos from Alandas to pimped up mac ’n’ cheese from The Mac Shack.
You can indulge in a little tipple to warm up if you can get a seat in the Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar on the Mound, and make sure you indulge in a piping hot apple toddy.
For the kids there’s plenty of rides and activities, including the famous Forth 1 Big Wheel.
Artisans come from all over Europe to sell their wares, from jewellery to personalised Christmas decorations, you’ll find unique gifts and stocking fillers for everyone in your family.
I picked up a wooden tree decoration shaped like a Tunnock’s Teacake.
With festive favourites being played by brass bands along the way, it’s a lovely experience for all the family.
The city is encouraging the locals to get together with a community Christmas project (edinburghschristmas.com) held over 12 nights in 12 locations with winter projections cast on to buildings, with choirs performing rousing Christmas classics.
If a sing-a-long sounds right up your street then make sure you don’t miss out on Now That’s What I Call Christmas, where a live band will belt out your favourite Christmas songs like Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You at the Usher Hall on December 21.
You can’t come to Edinburgh without visiting the castle, and this Christmas sees a light spectacular like never before. Watch as the history of the castle illuminates the walls in an amazing 90-minute show.
If you’d rather shy away from the craziness of the city centre then take a trip out to the Royal Botanic Garden for their after-dark light experience.
Highlights include a festive flotilla with hundreds of glowing boats bobbing in the water, the Laser Garden and the Inverleith House Festive Finale with coloured projections dancing in time to Christmas songs.
After an exciting day exploring, it’s time for a bite to eat and a festive cocktail.
The Ivy on St Andrews Square is the perfect pit stop for an aperitif, and you’ll adore the décor, and you can’t really visit Edinburgh at Christmas without going to The Dome for a selfie in front of the twinkling light pillars.
If you’re lucky enough to get a table, then try the Snowy Dome cocktail – cinnamon gin, butterscotch schnapps, ginger syrup and cream come together to create a true taste of the holidays!
The famous Dishoom is perfect for a post-shopping meal, with a variety of dishes to share at the table. This Indian-Irani café caters for intolerances and a meat-free/vegan diet, too. I love the gorgeous Punjab chickpea curry paired with the fiery fried green chillies.
The Glasshouse Hotel is a really luxurious way to spend the night in Edinburgh.
The hotel, originally a church, is offering a special package which includes a three-night stay, a three-course meal on Christmas Eve, a gift from Santa on Christmas morning and a fun-packed Christmas Day schedule which includes champagne, turkey and live music.
We stayed in a Calton Hill room, with views from the terrace across the rooftop gardens of the hotel. It was so lovely to enjoy a mulled wine (or a dram from The Glasshouse’s extensive whisky collection) in the Snug bar, on comfy sofas surrounding the gorgeous fire before going back to the room to relax in the huge bathtub… bliss, and one of the most comfortable – and biggest – hotel beds I’ve ever slept in.
The hotel is expanding its facilities next year, with the addition of Nordic-inspired spa domes on the hotel’s two-acre rooftop garden. The new spa experience will offer a modern and futuristic feel rooted in Edinburgh’s history of being occupied by the Nords, and will include a virtual reality experience.
I can’t wait to go back next Christmas – a massage would be the perfect way to relax those shoulders after a day of festive fun in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay promises to be another sizzling affair. Mark Ronson will headline the party in Princes Street Gardens, before a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.
Stay at the five-star Glasshouse Hotel Edinburgh from £200 per night. The Indulgent Christmas/New Year Package is £1,080 per couple based on a three-night stay. theglasshousehotel.co.uk.