Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is said to be one of the largest New Year parties in the world with an estimated 150,000 people expected to visit the city.

Here are my top places to visit making the most of this beautiful city when visiting with your family during Christmas and New Year.

1. Hogmanay Torchlight Procession

This is one of the most incredible experiences you can do as a family during the New Year which starts the Hogmanay celebrations on the 30th December. Buy your torch tickets in advance as they can sell out quickly. (you can purchase tickets here)

The torch lit procession has such a happy, celebratory atmosphere as you follow the procession carrying torches through the city and up onto Calton Hill where you enjoy traditional music followed by stunning fireworks.

2. Bairns Afore

This great event for families returns at this years Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.  On the 31st December at 5pm you can celebrate with the kids, with spectacular fireworks and family entertainment, and all afore bedtime hosted by Forth One’s Mickey Gavin.

Franz Ferdinand headlines the main stage in West Princes Street Gardens, and whats fab for children is that they will hear a mashup of Disney classics with their favourite pop anthems for an hour of sing-a-long fun for all the family.

Then it’s time to look up and celebrate the end of the year and the start of the new, with a special early fireworks show lighting up the sky over Edinburgh Castle.


3. New Years Eve Midnight Fireworks

Although the evening Hogmanay street party is perfect for adults with Franz Ferdinand headlining the concert at Princess Street Gardens, its not recommended for children.

TIP – For families wanting to take part in the midnight celebrations and to get a great view of the fantastic fireworks take a trip up Calton Hill or Arthur Seat. Both offer tremendous views of the castle, the city and the fireworks.

The scene of New Year’s eve fireworks over Edinburgh castle bringing in the New Year is one of the most memorable scenes shown across the world.

4. Winter Wonderland

East Princess Street Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland which is a must visit for families.

Our girls love this part of Edinburgh which has been transformed into a winter wonderland with a Christmas market, Christmas tree maze, ice rink, fairground rides, star flyer and the giant ferris wheel providing a fantastic vantage point to see this fantastic city.

5. Panto – Beauty and the Beast – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

This has been crowned as the best panto in Scotland with a truly magical mix of humour, fun and music. This is very popular and if you are lucky to be able to get tickets then it’s well worth a visit.

This year’s performance at the Kings Theatre is Beauty and the Beast and what makes the panto such a success in Edinburgh is its tried and tested cast including Allan Stewart (Aunty May) and Grant Stott (Fleshcreep) who make this an event that is not to be missed.

Kings Theatre Edinburgh, Edinburgh South – Tickets – £17.50 – £35.00*

6. Ice Skating with a difference

What makes ice skating in Edinburgh with children a unique experience is the  circular ice rink in St Andrew Square.  Its such an experience to be able to get your skates on and glide around the historic Melville Monument.

Tickets from £5.00 – ends the 6th January 2018

7. Giant Lanterns of China 2018 at Edinburgh Zoo

This winter,  The Giant Lanterns of China returns to Edinburgh Zoo, an installation of over 450 dazzling lanterns – very similar to Longleat Festival of Light in Somerset, England.  We love Edinburgh Zoo and this great new attraction adds a new unique experience.  These fabulous displays have been expertly created by 150 Chinese craftsmen from Sichuan, putting in a total of over 25,000 hours of work to create these works of art.

These enchanting sculptures of light include over 200 large scale animal lanterns including giant pandas, lions, penguins and flamingos. Surround by beautiful backdrops of insects, Chinese heritage symbols and stunning traditional archways to guide you around the Zoo.  Read our review on what to expect

01 December 2018 to 17 February 2019

8. Edinburgh Castle – A Very Mary Christmas

With it domineering over the city on an ancient volcanic crag, no visit to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the Castle. Over the Christmas period you can join in the fun fun and see how Mary Queen of Scots would have celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas with her courtiers.

A visit to Edinburgh Castle is such a fantastic day out for families and one that the girls loved as you learn about its history, see the Scottish crown jewels, the Stone of Destiny, walk on the battlements and again fantastic views of the city of Edinburgh.

Buy Tickets

9. First Footers Family Ceilidh

Experience the first celidh of 2019 at this free event that all the family will love!  Held at the magnificent McEwan Hall, blow away the Hogmanay cobwebs with your nearest and dearest, old and young and start the year off the right way with a wee dance to the foot-stomping live music of the brilliant Ceilidh Minogue.

1 January 2019, 12.30pm – Update – Tickets for this event have sold out. However additional tickets may be available from the box office.

10. Hogmanay Family Ceilidh

Take part in a ceilidh session especially for wee ones at the National Museum of Scotland and get your toes tapping to some live traditional music and make a robot resolution! This free event looks so much fun and will be a perfect start to the Hogmanay celebrations with children.

31 Dec 2017 – 14:00 – 15:30pm National museum of Scotland free & Unticketed

11. Message from the Skies

In this event you are taken on a literary journey through the city,  reading a new story written by celebrated Scottish crime writer Val McDermid.  What makes this free event which starts on New Years Day special is that it will be projected onto Edinburgh’s greatest buildings and landmarks.

1 January – 25 January – from dusk until 10pm – Free

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