Santa Claus is coming to town. Well, not for another few weeks, but its time to start embracing the festive season and the winter warmth of Christmas.
Whether its sipping mulled wine at a Christmas market or hitching a husky sleigh ride, Scotland has tinsel time under wraps.
Here’s our selection of the best family fun days out in the run up to the big day.
From the giant Christmas tree and baubles to sparkling reindeer and baby Jesus in the crib, it’s worth taking a stroll through Glasgow’s George Square on a December night to see the lights twinkle.
In Edinburgh, must-see Christmas At The Botanics is in its third year. Wander round 70 acres of majestic gardens magically lit with features such as the Tunnel of Light, Laser Garden, Festive Flotilla of glowing boats, and Scented Fire Garden. There’s music, mulled wine, festive foods and fire-pits to gather round.
Markets are held across the country where you can buy all things Christmas, from hot chocolate to handmade tree decorations, and enjoy all the fun at the fair with big wheels and rides.
Markets are held in Edinburgh Princes Street, George Square and St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow, Aberdeen Christmas Village and there are a number of festivals planned for Perth, including the Festival of Chocolate.
Learn how to complete the perfect Christmas dinner with cooking demonstrations at Balgove Larder’s Christmas Night Market. You can also choose your tree.
Festive family fun
The picturesque Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate in Dumfriesshire will host its annual Christmas Fair on November 29 and 30 with the Castle set to be lit red and green for the occasion.
There will be an array of craft, gift and food stalls to browse, mulled wine, mince pies and horse-drawn carriage rides. And of course a visit from Mr Claus himself.
Beecraigs Country Park in West Lothian has a host of events, from an illumination trail to Santa’s grotto and storytelling experience, as well as fairground rides, choirs and carol singers and a festive silent disco.
At Falkirk’s Callander House the Elf Workshop has a lot of presents that need to be wrapped – will all be ready in time?
Perhaps, with the help of all of you Elf Interns, the elves might just make it in time for the big visit.
Elfingrove at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery offers a spellbinding night-time tour of this beautiful museum.
Step into the fairy-lit winter wonderland, where you can dance in a giant snow globe, feast on delicious festive treats, and enjoy all-singing, all-dancing elfish surprises!
What more memorable way to enjoy Scotland’s beautiful outdoors in the winter than a husky sledge ride!
Scotland has a number of husky centres where you can meet the dogs and go for a sledge ride, or even have a full-day experience with professional racers where you help to train the dogs.
Try Husky Ranch in Perthshire, Cairngorm Sleddog Centre in Aviemore, or Huskyhaven in Aberdeenshire.
The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is home to around 150 free-ranging reindeer, and is the best spot to meet these friendly characters in their natural habitat. Surrounded by tinsel and decorations, Santa will be there keeping an eye on his reindeer, and there are crafting activities you can try too. You could also head to the nearby Highland Wildlife Park, where you’ll see polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, snow leopards and more.
Santa never be without his red-nosed sidekick Rudolph, so a trip to Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig is the perfect way to meet Santa, and his herd of reindeers. Feed the reindeer, before visiting majestic animals like tigers, wolves, snow leopards and polar bears.
Kids will love Santa’s Woodland Experience in Balfron. They get to set off through the woodland in search of Santa’s woodland home on a tractor! Meet Mr Claus in his cabin and tell him what presents you wish for this year before enjoying some festive nibbles.
Or visit Camperdown Wildlife Centre in Dundee to meet Santa.
After your time with Santa, which includes free face painting and kids activities, you can then explore the rest of the park and meet animals including a donkey, a bear, otters and meerkats.
Combine a love of locomotives with a visit to Santa on board a steam train at Bo’ness Railway. Santa Steam Trains will chug the tracks every weekend throughout December from Bo’ness Station. bkrailway.co.uk