Over six weeks, Scotland’s Capital city transforms into a magical winter wonderland. The city offer no shortage of things to see, do and enjoy with a programme designed to get you into the Scottish festive spirit.
Breather in the scent of Christmas with a stroll though the city’s cinnamon-fueled markets, a mug of glühwein or hot chocolat in hand. Marvel at twinkling ice sculptures celebrating some of Scotland’s most famous citizens in the Ice Adventure, visit the Gian Advent Calendar, or treat yourself to a spectacular show at the Festival Square.
For festive thrill seekers young and old, discover the Star Flyer and the Yeti, take a spin on the the Big Wheel and Carousel, and don your skates on the oval Ice Rink.
Forget the Christmas coffee cup or the first mince pie – the switch on of the High Street lights marks the true beginning of the festive season. Visitors and residents came together to celebrate the start of Edinburgh’s Christmas season.
The festivities, which will last for six weeks, went into full swing as a 20,000-strong crowd met in the city centre for an afternoon of free music, dance and celebrations. Alongside the opening of the annual markets in Princes Street Gardens, the event marked a weekend where families across the city began to prepare for the big day. Tonight’s event, dubbed Light Night, is the latest in a line of attractions designed to foster community spirit on George Street and the surrounding areas. Throughout the afternoon, choirs and dance groups came from across Scotland and braved the freezing winter weather to perform.
Did you know that the City Chambers, formerly the Royal Exchange, on the Royal Mile is built over an underground network of narrow streets where real people lived, worked and died between the 17th and 19th centuries?
The Old Town of Edinburgh is built on a volcanic rock just down from the castle. The main road is the Royal Mile, where a series of lanes and alleyways, called closes, extend out from each side. In order to develop the Old Town within the confines of the city’s defensive barricades, the authorities came up with a solution at the beginning of the 17th century to build tenement housing both upwards to the sky and down through the undergrounds, carving deep streets into the city.
Who could ever have imagined that real underground life would start bustling beneath the city?
Later, during the 19th century, with the increasing development of the city through the New Town and with new buildings such as the Royal Exchange, the closes were progressively buried and closed. Nonetheless, some of these alleys have survived almost unchanged through the last 250 years.
One of them has recently opened to the public: Mary King’s Close. It was the busiest and most vibrant of the closes at that time. Named after the most prominent businesswoman in the fabrics and sewn materials trade in the 1630’s, the close and its neighbours became a famous place which founded the city’s association with myths of plague victims, quarantines and mysterious tales of ghosts and murders.
Discover the true stories of the close with The Real Mary King’s Close attraction which gives tours of the ruins of several remaining underground closes: Mary King’s, Pearson’s, Stewart’s and Allen’s. You can find the entrance through Warriston’s Close and Writer’s Court near the City Chambers.
Scotland Loves Anime returns for an eighth year and is crammed with both new and classic films this year!
The Edinburgh weekend runs from the 16th to the 22nd of October at the Filmhouse Cinema and the schedule runs as follows:
MONDAY 16TH OCTOBER
18:15 – YOUR NAME [DUBBED]
TUESDAY 17TH OCTOBER
18:00 – A SILENT VOICE [DUBBED]
WEDNESDAY 18TH OCTOBER
20:45 – RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION [DUBBED]
THURSDAY 19TH OCTOBER
20:30 – RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA [DUBBED]
FRIDAY 20TH OCTOBER
15:45 – EUREKA SEVEN HI-SPEED EVOLUTION: RENTON
18:15 – TOKYO GODFATHERS
20:45 – NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL
SATURDAY 21ST OCTOBER
13:00 – VENUS WARS
15:30 – FIREWORKS
18:00 – LU OVER THE WALL
20:30 – TOKYO GHOUL – LIVE ACTION
SUNDAY 22ND OCTOBER
13:15 – KIZUMONOGATARI PART III
15:30 – MIND GAME
XX:XX – VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST
20:45 – OSAMU TEZUKA’S METROPOLIS
Scotland Loves Animation is a charity promoting animation as art. For the last seven years they’ve been running film festivals, workshops, exhibitions, graduate showcases and other events in Scotland to appeal to all ages and tastes. The annual film festival, Scotland Loves Anime, has become renowned as the UK’s top film festival for Japanese animation.
With its grizzly history of battles, grave robbers, serial killers and executions, it’s no wonder that Edinburgh is a hotbed for paranormal activity. It regularly comes top in the list of the UK’s most haunted places and has attracted TV production companies and paranormal specialists from all over the world. With Halloween around the corner, now is the perfect time to explore these spooky places and see for yourself!
It has been the site of several bloody battles, sieges and executions over its 2,000 year history so it’s no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is one of the most haunted places in the city. There have been reports of unexplained noises such as knocking, drumming and footsteps, as well as sightings of mysterious orbs. In 2001, a team of scientists carried out an investigation into the paranormal activity and their findings appeared to confirm the stories.
Often described as Scotland’s most haunted pub, part of The Banshee Labyrinth is located in some of the city’s underground vaults. It is also rumoured to be occupied by a banshee! The story goes that a group of workmen once heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the depths of the pub and a few hours later one of the men found out that a member of his family had died. There are also reports of drinks flying off tables and smashing into walls.
It is said to be the oldest pub in the centre of Edinburgh with parts of the building dating back to 1516. With so much history, it’s no wonder that patrons and staff have experienced some paranormal activity over the years! Reports of shadowy forms, unexplained banging noises and slamming doors are just some of the incidents attributed to this pub’s spooky reputation.
4. Greyfriars Kirkyard
This has been a graveyard since 1562 and is the resting place of numerous notable Edinburgh residents, including poets, historians, architects, inventors and the much-loved Greyfriars Bobby! However, the hauntings are only said to have occurred since the late 1990s when a homeless man broke in to the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie. Since then, there have been reports of visitors leaving with bruises scratches and cuts, leading to rumours of a poltergeist living in the Kirkyard.
There are many ghost tours, which explore the city’s underground vaults, and numerous reports of paranormal activity. A live investigation on the Vaults was carried out by the TV show, Most Haunted in 2006 and it is rumoured that the infamous Burke and Hare stored the bodies of their victims here before selling them to the medical school.
So, if you’re a seasoned ghost hunter or a complete sceptic, make sure you check out these most haunted spots!
The Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour is a theatrical sightseeing tour, taking you on a journey around the darker side of Edinburgh. Your creepy conductor shows you the sights onboard a classic 1960s Routemaster bus as you experience the travelling ghost tour of Edinburgh. Learn about witches, grave robbers, plague and of course the ghosts that reside in the most haunted city in Europe. A comedy horror show as you travel around the city, this is the perfect way to see Edinburgh and discover it’s dark and unusual secrets.
This sightseeing bus tour is a journey around Edinburgh’s gruesome past, while seeing the city’s most famous sites, including Edinburgh Castle, The New Town, Grassmarket, Greyfriar’s Kirk, The Old Town, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. The Conductor will show you where the murders, tortures and executions took place – and where certain restless spirits still linger. Hear about Edinburgh’s grisly history, from Burke and Hare to the hundreds of women drowned or burned as witches. There are also surprises onboard the bus – it was indeed once a funeral bus, so it’s not a surprise that the dead may have left an imprint on the vehicle .
Enjoy this spooky ride aboard the only surviving Necropolis Bus. The Necropolis Bus Company began in the 19th century as a private funeral bus service carrying the deceased, pallbearers and mourners to the final resting place. Painted in the traditional midnight black of all the Necropolis Routemaster buses, decorative features include lamps and window curtains. In 1967, the entire fleet was destroyed in a mysterious fire… only one bus survived. Will you?
Tours Depart From
Sunday to Thursday 18:00, 19:30
Friday and Saturday 18:00, 19:30 and 21:00
Child (under 15) £12
Children aged 15 and under must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Travel before 31st August and receive a Free guide book.