Edinburgh Christmas 2014 celebrations includes two main markets being held every day from the 21st November 2014 to the 4th January 2015. These are The European Christmas Market and The Scottish Christmas Market. Both are open 10am-10pm.
December 1st arrived, the countdown to Christmas had begun so I took the train from my Northumbrian home, across the border to Scotland's Capital.
As I stepped out of Edinburgh Waverley Station on to Waverley Bridge, the European Market was in front of me, just footsteps away in East Princes Gardens (from Waverley Station cross the road at Waverley Bridge and you are there!) A kilted Piper stood at the entrance providing a truly Scottish welcome.
Entering the European Market was a true treat to the senses/ Aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, mulled wine, spiced apples and candy wafted from the stalls, combining to create a scent which could only be described as Christmassy!. The Sparking lights from the wooden decorated stalls provided a warm glow on what was a cold Winter day, whilst the sounds of skates on the open air rink and the chatter from excited children brought back memories of my own childhood at Christmas time..
The location of the European Market is rather idyllic which undoubtedly adds extra sparkle to the Market -. East Princes Gardens lie in a valley which divides Edinburgh's Old Town from the New Town. From the gardens there are beautiful views of both these areas as well as the spectacular Edinburgh Castle which towers above the gardens. Edinburgh's famous shopping street Princes Street runs parallel to East Princes Gardens, with parts of the Market spilling out on to Princes Street.
East Princes Gardens stretch from Waverley Bridge to the Mound – where the Scottish National Gallery is sited. The gardens are tiered into three levels, the market stalls stretch the entire length of each tier.
The first tier is at street level. it consists of an open air Ice Skating area, rides such as the Big Wheel and lots and lots of stalls, selling everything from cooked and uncooked food, to crafts, toys, clothing, the list is endless! Walking along the first level, visiting the variety of stalls was like take a quick trip around Europe!. There was sizzling German Sausages, next to an Irish Stall devoted to Guinness Products, then a stall brimming with colourful ceramics from Southern Europe, beside another stall crammed with Scandinavian knitwear, alongside a Swiss stall with wooden toys, next there was olives from Greece, Every Part of Europe was represented here.
The Second tier continues with the variety of stalls selling an endless array of products.
The lowest level in the widest part of the valley is devoted to children. Here Santa land can be found!. There is Santa's Grotto, a Christmas tree maze, each tree bearing sparkling lights, there are reindeer roundabout rides and a separate market devoted to the needs of their customers – children's toys, games, sweets are plentiful here. A miniature railway – the Santa train provides rides around this area.
For the less mobile What I like about East Princes Gardens, is it is lined with wooden park bench style seating, and the seating is in abundance!. This means for those like myself (I have arthritis) there are plenty of places to stop and sit a while, so the whole of the market can be visited without aching legs!. On the first level I saw mobility scooters being used, even with the stalls there was sufficient space for the scooters to be used.. It should be noted there are steps or banks to the lower levels,
The second market – The Scottish Christmas Market at St. Andrews square is just a short walk from Princes Street. Turn off Princes Street at St Andrews Street and St Andrews Square is not far- It is within walking distance from the European Market, but for those not wishing to walk, there are taxi's on Waverley Bridge. St Andrews Square is one of Edinburgh's most prestigious squares surrounded by gardens.
There is level access to the Scottish Christmas Market and the entire market is on one level. The market is crammed with stalls selling Scotland's fine produce, with a central area containing seats and tables for people to enjoy the variety of cooked food on offer. There are also rides such as Helter Skelter, as well as an open air ice rink here too. I enjoyed browsing the handmade Scottish jewellery stall, the Fudge stall was quite a temptation as was the Scottish Shortbread stall!. Scottish knitwear with its fascinating designs was for sale – jumper,s hats, scarves, gloves, socks. Scotland's delicious cheeses were for sale as was their fine seafood.
I visited both these markets in the afternoon so I had the benefit of seeing them in daylight, as well as when it got dark just after 3.30 pm. It was when it got dark that the markets took on an extra appeal, they seemed to come alive then, the bright twinkling lights of the market against the dark sky certainly made them very magical and enhancing the cheery atmosphere.
Entry to both markets is free, although there are charges for some of the children's activities and rides.
To complete the shopping experience I ended by visit to Edinburgh by a visit to my favourite Edinburgh Shop – Jenners of Edinburgh which on Princes Street is just opposite The European Market. . Jenners is Edinburgh's oldest department store and is known for being beautifully decorated at Christmas. Simple exterior lighting provided a warm red glow over the outside of this large stone building. I walked inside, through the first department into the Great Hall from which all floors and the roof can be seen. Here white and silver sparking decorations draping the walls from top to bottom ensured Jenners retained their reputation for their simple but elegant shop decoration. On the top floor of Jenners is their tea room, which I am told serves a rather nice afternoon tea and from which there are wonderful views of this part of the city.