It’s that time of year again when small signs of Christmas start to appear and that warming sense of celebration begins to kick in. Tree decorations, festive homeware and the annual Christmas jumpers are already on the shelves, festive food adverts are creeping onto our screens, and the jolly Christmas jingles are already being aired – how can you not get in the mood?
There are a multitude of Christmas markets in Scotland in 2023, offering everything from seasonal produce and hand-crafted gifts to winter fashion and, most importantly, tasty treats and mulled wine! These markets are Scottish Christmas traditions and are the best way to ditch the hustle and bustle of retail shopping and have a more laid-back and cultured festive experience.
We have compiled this guide to help you plan your next festive outing which could tie in nicely with a winter break in Scotland.
Oban Winter Festival
Where: Oban, West Coast
When: 17–26 November 2023
On the west coast of Scotland, there is a vibrant fishing town called Oban which hosts an annual ten-day winter festival celebrating the town's unique culture and community with street parades, reindeer, performing arts, pipers, arts and crafts, ceilidhs and family fun. Celebrated throughout the town during the Oban Winter Festival, local eateries, pubs and venues get involved creating an atmosphere like no other. The best way to get about is by foot and this will ensure you don’t miss out on the fun found behind every corner.
Make sure you don't miss the Haggis and Whisky Festival – there is haggis hurling to be done! Great shopping, restaurants, bars and surprise performances are all waiting to be discovered, and the light festival in Glencruitten Woods offers a night-time walking event complete with a light show! Public transport is even arranged to get you there. This is the perfect excuse to visit this amazing part of the world and enjoy an event which you can dip in and out of as well as explore the wider area.
- Highlight: The reindeer parade will get the children excited for Santa’s impending visit and the firework display is one to watch.
- The easiest way to get there: The train from Glasgow is the easiest and most scenic way to reach Oban. A car would also be convenient, especially if you have planned accommodation on the outskirts.
- Cottage nearby: Dail na Mara, sleeps 4
Edinburgh’s Christmas Market
Where: East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
When: 17 November 2023–6 January 2024
This Christmas market runs in the bustling heart of Edinburgh. Boasting a brilliant location centrally positioned on Princes Street, you can enjoy pretty views over to Old Town and iconic Edinburgh Castle. With no limit to how long you stay, this market is the perfect place to soak up a festive atmosphere whilst enjoying tasty treats like freshly made crepes, gingerbread, sugar-coated churros, marshmallow sticks and rich hot chocolate. The stands selling hand-made crafts, leather bags and jewellery offer the perfect solution for unique gifts whilst the ‘Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar’ welcomes you in for a cosy mulled wine and a place to rest the legs.
Edinburgh’s market is well known for its impressive range of rides, some of which take you high above the city where you can take in the amazing views. The carousel, Christmas tree maze and Santa Claus Land are there for the smaller members of your party so everyone will have fun during their visit.
While you’re there:
Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle’s Castle of Light show. This ticketed event sees the mighty fortress illuminated in a spectacular after-dark trail. Dates: 24–25 November; 1–3, 8–10, 15–17, 21–23 and 27–30 December 2023; 2–3 January 2024.
- Highlight: The Big Wheel – try it at night time to get twinkling views of the capital city.
- The easiest way to get there: Waverly Station is very close, so we suggest travelling into the city by train or bus. Parking is limited and time will be wasted trying to find a spot!
- Cottage nearby: The Albany, sleeps 5
Traquair House Christmas Fayre
Where: Innerleithen, Scottish Borders
When: 25–26 November 2023
A slightly smaller event, but by no means less magical, Traquair House in Innerleithen bedecks its walls in a way that is reminiscent of the Victorian era to bring you and the kids a day of Christmas merriment. Traditional wreaths, mantle dressings, hanging stockings, Christmas trees and pillar candles are all things you would expect to see during this day-long event in the oldest inhabited house in Scotland.
With performances from local choirs and the silver band taking place in this traditional Scottish house, you are sure to get into the spirit of a joyful family Christmas. These smaller events are perfect for younger children and, with Santa's Grotto, puppet shows, chestnut roasting and home-cooked lunches to enjoy, this will be a memorable day for you and your loved ones. And for the adults? Well, there will be many photo opportunities and mulled wine on hand!
- Highlight: Santa's Grotto will put a smile on every child’s face.
- The easiest way to get there: By car or bus. You can get a bus from Edinburgh to Innerleithen and from there, it is a 15-minute walk on a footpath, or you may prefer a taxi.
- Cottage nearby: The Old Larder, sleeps 4
Logie Steading Christmas Market
Where: Forres, Highlands
When: 25 November, 2 December, and 9 December 2023
Following several successful years, Logie Steading will be hosting its charming Christmas market again this year. Situated on the border of Inverness-shire and Morayshire in the Scottish Highlands, this market brings together people from all regions to celebrate good food, talent and everything Christmas.
A luxury shop and café by trade, this venue already has everything to make this indoor market special and you will marvel at the standard of festive decoration throughout. With over 50 stalls, you will find hot food, drink, jewellery, homeware, and arts and crafts, with all exhibitors putting an emphasis on handmade and local. This is the perfect event to soak up festivities and find unique gifts for those you keep close.
- Highlight: The stylish café offers a nice place to take some time out with a coffee and cake, or a larger meal if needed.
- The easiest way to get there: By car due to the rural setting. Just 6 miles south of Forres, Logie Steading is well-signposted off the B9007.
- Cottage nearby: Chadwick Steading, sleeps 2
Drumlanrig Christmas Fair
Where: Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
When: 1–2 December 2023
Set against the backdrop of the majestic Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, this is one of Scotland’s finest indoor Christmas markets. It exhibits fine food, music, accessories and crafts from an array of local artisans.
With on-site entertainment like Santa's Grotto and Clydesdale horse and cart rides, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy and one thing not to miss is the exciting light-up of the Christmas tree. The magic is only enhanced by the unique setting with views out across the Nith Valley where the market is set in a marquee in front of the beautifully lit castle. If you are looking for a market on a smaller, more local scale, then this weekend winter wonderland affair is the perfect option for you.
- Highlight: The Clydesdale horse and cart rides will offer a nice spell of fresh air.
- The easiest way to get there: Set in rural Dumfriesshire, the easiest option is by car however a bus service does run from Dumfries and Ayr (no. 246) which will take you to the estate entrance. A taxi ride is also an option.
- Cottage nearby: Galloway Townhouse, sleeps 5
George Square Christmas Market
Where: George Square, Glasgow
When: 1 December 2023–7 January 2024
George Square sits at the centre of Glasgow with Queen Street railway station bringing in visitors from all over the world – what better spot to host a Christmas market? The square comes alive in December as traders from across the globe come to exhibit their finest festive produce and crafts for you all to enjoy. A day can be spent browsing the individual stalls filled to the brim with trinkets, hand-crafted gifts, winter accessories and festive homeware.
Christmas delicacies will be on offer at the food stands where you can sample everything, from cheese to chocolate. Hot dogs and burgers are there if you need something more filling and a warming glass of Glühwein is the perfect tipple to sip on whilst you potter about. There are a range of different rides and entertainment keeping every age of your gathering happy! If you want a taste of vibrant city life mixed with Scottish Christmas cheer, then this family-friendly market is the one for you.
While you're there:
After a spot of Christmas shopping, head over to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum's ticketed Elfingrove event. Skate under the stars on the ice rink, ride the magical Snow Wheel and enjoy a bite to eat in Candy Land. Dates: 24 November 2023–3 January 2024.
- Highlight: The stunning 15-metre tall, fully decorated Christmas tree.
- The easiest way to get there: Queen Street railway station opens onto George Square so if you are coming from out of town, a train or taxi would be advised.
- Cottage nearby: Lochview Oakwood Lodge, sleeps 4
Christmas breaks in Scotland
The Scots love Christmas and take much joy in getting together and celebrating with their families, friends and local communities. Like most countries, we have our own Scottish Christmas traditions and welcome you to come and join in the fun.
Take a look at our selection of cosy holiday escapes for winter breaks and larger family homes for the Christmas holidays in Scotland.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.