The Living Rock goes in for Christmas in a big way. By December hours of daylight have reduced to six. A little something is needed to tempt us away from hibernation, and, like moths to a flame, we are drawn out of our homes by a sea of lights.
Over the past decade Edinburgh’s Christmas market has grown, from a few stalls selling bratwurst, mulled wine and carved wooden toys, to a full blown winter wonderland, a bombardment of the senses, complete with fairground rides, ice skating and hundreds of booths selling everything from arts and crafts to burgers and chips. The market treads a fine line between fun and overwhelming.
A few streets away the riot of colour and light continues with a relatively recent addition to the city’s Christmas offerings; the Street of Light. You can purchase tickets to walk between the neon decked structures and to listen to a variety of local bands but really it is just as satisfying an experience from the outside. The lights dance in time to the music that is played and, when I was passing, the combination of colours, shapes, technical wizardry and lively bhangra music was enough to raise a smile from even the most miserable Scrooge.
If you are looking for a slightly more relaxed Christmas offering, the city can provide that too. Walk up The Mound from Princes Street, at the far end of the market, and you will reach an eighteen metre Christmas tree, gifted each year to Edinburgh by Hordaland County Council in Norway, in recognition of Scotland’s assistance to Norway during the second world war. Tastefully bedecked in white lights, the foot of the tree is a great vantage point from which to watch the bustle below.
Another oasis is the central courtyard of the University of Edinburgh’s Old College. The building is undergoing a major renovation project, the first step of which was to lay grass in what had previously been a paved area, used for parking. The transformation is very welcome and currently further enhanced by the presence of a rather grand Christmas tree.
As is often the way with the Living Rock, there is a Christmas sight to suit everyone’s taste, so long as you know where to look.