You might have just finished packing away your Halloween costume, but Christmas is already in full swing in St Andrews. If the lights hanging over Market Street didn’t give it away then the holiday cups at Starbucks and the Christmas tree in Tesco definitely did. The lack of a holiday in between October and December, save for the Thanksgiving dinners held by pockets of Americans, means that there is nothing keeping the holiday season from creeping up earlier into the year.
A perfect way to capitalize on this premature celebration of the holiday season is to attend the Edinburgh Christmas Market. The festival, whose lights switched on just this past Sunday in front of a crowd of 20,000, is a six-week celebration of the holiday season. Beginning in mid-November and running through January its opening hours are from 10 am to 10 pm every day meaning that there’s plenty of time to stop by! It is the second largest Christmas market in the UK, and people come from all over to take in the lights and walk through the markets. The scale of the festival is proven by the value of its attractions and festivities, which is estimated to be over £113 million this year.
East Princes Street Gardens, where the festival is held, is easily walking distance from the city center. One can follow the market’s stalls through the winding streets of Edinburgh shopping and eating for hours. Popular dishes will make reappearances due to high demand from last year. Luxury macaroni and cheese, vegan pigs in a blanket, and famous fish and chips are just a few things you’ll encounter if you wander through the booths. Those looking to have a taste of seasonal drinks should search for the hand-crafted wild elderberry liqueur by Aelder or the Johnnie Walker Hot Apple Toddy at the Bothy Bar on the Mound.
Though the market seems to be the most popular aspect of the festival, there is more than just holiday shops, good food, and booze. There are rides and attractions for all ages. The most well-known of these is the Forth 1 Big Wheel, a Ferris wheel that boasts amazing views of the city of Edinburgh. There are also silent discos, art exhibits, and Santa’s workshop. The shows are also a great way to pass the time and get in the spirit of the holiday season. The Royal Lyceum Theatre will put on a production of An Edinburgh Christmas Carol this year. While the market is free, these extra attractions will set you back a few pounds each.
The festival is a perfect opportunity for students to escape the bubble of St Andrews in between the final week of classes and the beginning of exams. Take the time to relax and revel in the holiday season, then return to St Andrews with a renewed energy for final assignments and exams.