There's no better place to celebrate
From quirky traditions to festive breaks
Before 1958, Christmas in Scotland was a very frugal affair, celebrated behind closed doors without so much as a cracker in sight. This was due to the Scottish Presbyterian Church enforcing the Reformation’s ban on Christmas well into the 20th century. Fast forward to 1958, when the ban was lifted and the Scots started to fully embrace the festive spirit.
The Scots’ somewhat Scrooge-like approach to Christmas in years gone by was in stark contrast to their full-throttled New Year celebrations. Known as Hogmanay, it's the country’s biggest party, celebrated throughout Scotland with a bang – fireworks, bonfires and plenty of whisky. Its origins reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with wild parties in late December, and it's a date that has become steeped in tradition. One of the most tuneful is the singing of Auld Lang Syne, a poem written by Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns in 1788. At midnight, revellers link arms and sing the famous verse to bring in the New Year.
Once the New Year has been welcomed in, enter another time-honoured tradition – the First Footer. Traditionally, this is the name given to the first person that arrives on your doorstep after the stroke of midnight. They are expected to come with a gift, such as coal or peat, and food, such as shortbread or a black bun, salt and a wee dram of whisky. Their arrival and gifts ensure warmth, comfort and good luck over the next 12 months.
Visitors from all over the world flock to Scotland to take part in our legendary Hogmanay celebrations because there’s no better place to be to see in the New Year.
Now, as the days shorten, preparations for both Christmas and Hogmanay are in full swing. From mid-November, you will find a glittering array of Christmas markets and winter festivals with funfairs, cool ice rinks, warm mulled wine and even warmer hospitality.
The Edinburgh Winter Festival
The 2022 Edinburgh Winter Festival will take place from the 19th November to the 3rd January. Core festive attractions will be on offer, including the Christmas Market and funfair attractions in East and West Princes Street Gardens and on the Mound, an ice rink, new lighting and projections on George Street, the Festival of Kindness charity installation in St Andrew Square and a selection of free festive events and shows for families at the Ross Bandstand, such as the traditional Nativity Carol Concert.
Where to stay this festive break
Luxury Scotland members are offering a range of wonderful breaks over the festive season, so if you haven’t already made your plans, check out some of these enticing options:
Christmas at The Machrie Hotel on the Isle of Islay
Experience true escapism with a magical Christmas break on the stunning island of Islay at The Machrie Hotel. It's the perfect spot to relax and unwind by a crackling log fire and catch up with friends and family over the festive break.
Hogmanay at Glenapp Castle
If you’d like to see in 2023 in a castle, Glenapp Castle’s 3-night New Year House Party is guaranteed to offer you a true taste of Scotland – and memories for a lifetime. Discover luxurious bedroom suites, traditional pipers, whisky, fine food, a curling bonspiel, star gazing, champagne and, of course, Auld Lang Syne.
Christmas at Murrayshall Estate
A choice of festive activities means you can cosy up indoors with family board games alongside a roaring fire or head outdoors and breathe in the crisp wintry air with walks through the 365-acre estate and the Perthshire countryside beyond. The scene is set for a very merry Murrayshall Christmas! Download the brochure here.
A Hogmanay Break at Schloss Roxburghe Hotel.
Enjoy a two-night stay in a beautiful Scottish country estate including all food and entertainment in the heart of the Scottish Borders.