Best Spots To Visit In London & Edinburgh This Christmas
Here at Ruffians we’re very lucky to call two of Britain’s Capitals home. Edinburgh and London are two of the most iconic cities in the World, with millions of visitors a year, and for good reason!
What could beat taking in the views from Arthur’s Seat or Parliament Hill? Or getting hold of some top notch street food from the huge selection of vendors at Borough or Stockbridge Markets? Then there are all the legendary attractions - the Castle, Buckingham Palace, Royal Mile, Big Ben - the list goes on.
However, for us, there is one time of the year when both of these incredible cities really come into their own - Christmas. The atmosphere is truly special during the festive period, with buzzing crowds of all ages taking in the vibe, you won’t be struggling for things to do to get you in the yuletide spirit.
Grab yourself an eggnog and read on, for these are our top recommendations on the best spots in these iconic cities to visit for Christmas this year.
Kew Gardens (London)
Situated in an affluent, leafy corner of South West London, Kew Gardens is a great place to visit at any time of year.
The huge site contains one of the highest concentrations of plant life anywhere, from colossal ancient trees to rare tropical flowers in one of the impressive glass houses. There are also a host of attractions including The Hive, Great Pagoda and Treetop Walkway which are open year-round.
The park takes on a special, very different perspective during the festive period, the only time of year when it opens it’s gates in the evening darkness. The whole place is illuminated with sparkling lights and seasonal sounds fill the air, giving it a magical feel.
There are also special touches such as stalls offering mulled wine and hot chocolates to warm the cockles and a roaring fire in the Fire Garden. Even old Saint Nick himself makes an appearance, making it a great experience for kids too.
George Street (Edinburgh)
Edinburgh’s Christmas illuminations stretch across the city, but some of the most impressive are on George Street, one of the most attractive shopping streets you’re ever likely to see.
A huge selection of sparkling bulbs light up the stunning Georgian architecture that is typical of the area and the famous Dome even has its iconic pillars wrapped in a tinsel-effect.
Once you’re finished basking in the glow then why not head over to the ice rink in the shadow of the aforementioned pillars? Finish with a glass of bubbly or a spiced hot drink from one of the surrounding festive stalls, what could be more of the season?
St. Pauls Cathedral (London)
What could possibly make you feel more Christmassy than belting out a carol or two in a holy building? We’ll tell you what; if that holy building happens to be one of the most iconic in the world.
St. Pauls Cathedral opens its doors to the public a few times every year on the lead up to Big-C for free, non-ticketed carol events. There’s even a service on Christmas Eve which’ll give you more festive feels than chatting to the rotund red fella over a glass of port and a wedge of stilton.
Be warned though, if you want to partake then you’ll have to get here early and queue as demand is high. Pull on that big winter coat and get a Thermos of something warm at the ready.
East Princes Street Gardens (Edinburgh)
Christmas markets are a big thing these days. Once bonfire night is out the way then temporary huts and grottos pop-up as plentifully and quickly as cold and flu bugs at this time of year and the results can be, well, mixed.
There’s a fine line between being festive and charming or cheesy and tat-filled. Thankfully, the market at East Princes Street Gardens has managed to navigate this tightrope perfectly.
The lovely location helps, as do the delicious aromas of spiced apple cider, waffles and bratwurst emanating from German style wooden stalls. There’s also a great selection of local artisans and craftspeople peddling their wares, ideal for a unique gift for that tricky Secret Santa.
Hyde Park (London)
In one of London’s more unusual Christmas traditions, the Serpentine Swimming Club brave the elements for a 100 yard swimming race in the outdoor lido at 9 a.m. sharp on Christmas morning for the ‘Peter Pan Cup’.
This frankly crazy event has been an ever present in the cities festive calendar since 1864. No need to add Speedo’s to your Christmas list just yet though, it’s strictly spectators only unless you’re a bonafide (and particularly hardy) member of the club. Phew.
Waverley Station (Edinburgh)
Board a train at Scotland’s second busiest station and standardly you could be heading anywhere from Inverness to Penzance. However, during December there is an option to embark on a trip to somewhere even further afield, yep - you guessed it - “North Pole”.
The Polar Express is a wholesome family trip which consists of an hour long loop starting and finishing at Waverley. It’s a full-on festive theatre show on wheels, with actors playing out scenes from the famous movie in the aisles as you trundle along. Chuck in some cookies, hot chocolate and the big chap himself and you’ve got yourself a damn good time.
Not one to get caught fare hopping on though, chances are you’ll end up with a one way ticket to the naughty list.
Ruffians Barber Shops (London & Edinburgh)
Last but not least, nothing to add here except for a shameless reminder to book in for your Christmas trim.