It might not feel like the usual run up to Christmas but here at the Dunstane Houses, we’re determined to do everything we can to help you get into the Christmas spirit.
Our Christmas decorations are up, we have mulled wine in the bar and we’ve been busy over the last week or so catching up with our favourite festive attractions here in the city to share our up-to-date pick of how to celebrate given the ‘new norm’ we find ourselves in.
As ever, advance booking to the majority of our suggestions is highly recommended given ongoing restrictions.
1. AFTER-DARK FESTIVE FUN FOR THE FAMILY AT EDINBURGH’S BOTANIC GARDENS
Now in its fourth year, the Botanics’ after-dark Christmas trail provides families with a moment of festive escapism this Christmas season. From the 2 December – 3 January, wander beneath unique tree canopies illuminated in Christmas colour and immerse yourself in a world of giant baubles, dancing snowflakes and trees wrapped in ever-changing ribbons of colour. Afterwards, warm up with a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Book your tickets here.
2. THE PALACE OF HOLYROOD HOUSE
Mesmerized by the latest series of The Crown? Take a trip to The Queen’s official residence in Scotland’s capital, The Palace of Holyrood House, located at the end of the Royal Mile. Home to a number of festive activities this December, visitors can live Christmas-like-a-Royal thanks to a dedicated Christmas Trail through the Palace’s state apartments.
3. CASTLE STREET CHRISTMAS MARKET
Overlooking Edinburgh Castle, Castle Street Market returns once again this year from the 26 November – 23 December. Showcasing local Scottish produce and hand-crafted Christmas gifts, the alfresco festive market is the perfect spot for socially distanced Christmas shopping within walking distance from the hotel.
4. AN EDINBURGH ESCAPE HUNT
With Christmas parties on hold and festive frolics on the backburner, Edinburgh’s Escape Hunt provides families and social bubbles with an afternoon of excitement and ground-breaking missions. Work together as a team to find clues, solve puzzles and beat the clock – a welcome break from Netflix reruns and moth-eaten board games.
5. A WINTER’S WALK ALONG THE WATER OF LEITH
Moments from the hotel, the water of Leith walkway will take you right along to Edinburgh’s New Town and down to the docks of Leith. Perfect on a crisp winter’s day, why not stop by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for a warming hot chocolate en route. Bliss!
6. FESTIVE AFTERNOON TEA OR CHRISTMAS DAY LUNCH HERE AT THE DUNSTANE HOUSES?
Featuring a selection of festive sandwiches (that’s right, we’ve got turkey and cranberry on the menu especially), savoury bites and sweet treats (cue the mini mince pies, carrot & walnut cake and a festive Dunstane doughnut – yum!) plus our vast selection of St. Andrew’s teas, join us by the fire for a Festive afternoon tea like no other this festive season. Fancy a change of scene on Christmas Day, too? We’re also now pleased to be open for Christmas Day lunch (that’s right, no washing up!). Find out more about our afternoon tea here and our Christmas lunch, here.
7. EDINBURGH ZOO’S CHRISTMAS NIGHTS
From 20 November – 3 January, Edinburgh Zoo will be illuminated by a spectacular light trail taking you on a magical journey to the North Pole and back. Meander your way through Penguins Rock by moonlight and explore an enchanted ice forest on your way to Santa’s workshop. Oh, and for something extra special, be sure to book story time with Mrs. Claus!
8. DRIVE THROUGH CINEMA WITH THE PARKING LOT SOCIAL
Arriving at Edinburgh’s Dalkeith Country Park from the 16 – 24 December, the newly launched Parking Lot Social experience features a drive-in cinema (screening a number of Christmas classics including Elf, Home Alone, The Santa Claus and the Nightmare before Christmas), pre-show live DJs and a Christmas food market with local foodie favourites.
9. OCEAN TERMINAL CHRISTMAS MARKET
Taking place on the ground floor of the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, this year’s Christmas Market will take place from the 26 November – 23 December. Full to the brim with all things Scottish (we’re talking cakes, fudge, honey, jams, chutneys, calligraphy, woodwork, soaps and candles) the shopping centre is a short drive from the hotel and a must-visit this festive season.
10. GUIDED TOURS OF PICKERING’S GIN DISTILLERY
Eager to see how handcrafted gin is made? One of our favourite Edinburgh-based gins, Pickering’s, is offering a special, socially-distanced hour-and-a-half long tour this festive season. You’ll be shown Pickering’s unique distilling process and learn more about how best to determine your gin preference of choice with three tasting samples of take-away.