Scotland’s Winter Festivals 2016/2017

Celebrating St Andrew's Day in St Andrews. Pic by Jane Barlow

Make sure you top up your supply of #ScotSpirit this winter by visiting as many of Scotland’s Winter Festivals as you can!


Between raising the roof for Hogmanay and raising a dram in honour of the Bard on Burns Night – it’s fair to say that Scotland does a celebration well.


Here’s our guide to Scotland’s Winter Festivals 2016/2017.



Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light


The sky will light up with fireworks and Irvine’s historic waterfront will shimmer into life this St Andrew’s Day withIllumination – a four-day art and light spectacular marking Scotland’s 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Where: Irvine, North Ayrshire

When: 30 November – 3 December 2016 

Edinburgh’s Christmas


Edinburgh’s Christmas has two festive markets: the European Christmas Market in East Princes St Gardens (19 November – 7 January), and the Scottish Market at George Street (26 November – 24 December).  The Street of Light is once again illuminating George Street in a canopy of light synchronized to music and this year’s packed theatre programme in the new Festival Square Theatre promises magic, music and Five Guys Named Moe!

Where: Edinburgh

When: 18 November – 7 January

Glasgow Loves Christmas


Glasgow Loves Christmas sees magical events, shopping and festive fun happening in the heart of the city.  Head to the Christmas Market in St Enoch Square for festive gifts and treats or get on Santa’s good list by taking part in this year’s Santa Dash on December 6 to raise money for good causes.

Where: Glasgow

When: 13 November 2016 – 17 January 2017 

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay


Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is Scotland’s world-famous New Year festival.  Join the enchanting Torchlight Procession as it passes through Edinburgh’s Old Town on 30 December, before grabbing your ticket for the famous Hogmanay street party and a spectacular fireworks display on 31 December.  Watch headliner Paulo Nutini at the Concert in the Gardens on New Year’s Eve too.  On 1 January, brave souls can take a refreshing (read icy cold!) dip in the Firth of Forth during the annual Loony Dook.

Where: Edinburgh

When: 30 December 2016 – 1 January 2017

Family Hogmanay in the Honest Toun


The Brunton, Musselburgh, hosts a day packed with family-friendly activities to celebrate Hogmanay. Ticketed activities and events run from 11am – 5.30pm with an early evening free Lantern Parade and spectacular free Fireworks Display at Fisherrow Links.

Where: Musselburgh, East Lothian

When: 31 December 2016

Stirling Winter Festival


With a host of great events taking place over the St Andrew’s Day weekend, artist-led creative workshops throughout December and a carnival of light and sound at Hogmanay, Stirling Winter Festival makes for a wonderful family event.

Where: Stirling

When: 20 November – 31 December 2016

Big Burns Supper Festival


The Big Burns Supper Festivais the world’s biggest Burns Night celebration and features a nine-day programme of music, cabaret, comedy and theatre, including the biggest street carnival in Scotland with over 5, 000 participants.

Where: Dumfries & Galloway

When: 20 -28 January 2017

Alloway 1759  


Alloway 1759 is a unique commemoration of the birthplace and the life of Robert Burns.  Discover special illuminations, be enchanted by mischievous sights, sounds and entertainment as historic landmarks come alive – and be amazed by the Alloway 1759 Haggis Hurling Championships!

Where: Ayr

When: Throughout January

Burns Unbound – National Museum of Scotland


Celebrate the national Bard with a packed programme of performances and activities for all ages.  Burns Unbound will celebrate the best contemporary and traditional Scottish music and the spoken word of Burns in the iconic setting of the National Museum of Scotland.

Where: Edinburgh

When: 22 January 2017



For more information on festive events in Scotland, and to download VisitScotland’s A-Z of Winter in Scotland, please visit   


Wendy Glass