EDINBURGH'S BIG FESTIVE PARTIES

In Edinburgh, the run-up to Christmas, and the New Year celebrations, are on a big scale, and attract visitors from many lands to the Scottish capital. First comes Capital Christmas (Nov. 27 – Dec. 24), with lights along Princes Street and the adjoining gardens switched on from the first day, and a huge ferris wheel turning until Jan.4. There will be an outdoor ice rink in East Princes Street Gardens, a German Christmas market, and a Santa Extravaganza (Dec.7).

At the castle, on its rocky outcrop above Princes Street, there will be Christmas at the Smugglers Inn (Dec. 7 and 21), “A Christmas Carol” (Dec.4,5,11,12,18 and 19), and carol singers and costumed entertainers (Dec 21). Website: www.edinburghscapitalchristmas.co.uk

The Scots have long made a big thing of welcoming the New Year, and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (Dec.29 – Jan.4) is probably the largest and most spectacular celebration of its kind anywhere. Each day there is a big free event: the Torchlight Procession and Fire Festival (Dec.29); the Night Afore Fiesta (Dec.30) with massed pipes and drums, the world’s biggest ceilidh, a Latin Carnival stage and street theatre, and 100,000 people at the Royal Bank Street Party (Dec.31); and New Year’s Day events including mass T’ai Chi Chuan and husky dog racing. A pass is needed for the street party, and tickets for three concerts on the same evening.

Website: www.edinburghshogmanay.org

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