A look at 2007 Winter Festivals in Edinburgh...
"Life is not measured
by the number of breaths we take, but by
the places and moments
that take our breath away"
So begins Patricia Schultz' travel book, "1,000 Places to See Before you Die." Edinburgh - especially during its Hogmanay celebrations - is one of those 1,000 breathtaking places.
For the past seven years running, the Scottish capital has been voted the top UK city in Guardian and Observer reader awards as an inspiring destination year round. It recently was rated the UK's best place to live by a Channel 4 property programme.
Edinburgh has an especially cheery festive welcome at Christmas and New Year enticing some 500,000 UK and international visitors here between November and early January.
The winter season is an exhilarating time of year to experience cool shopping, cosy cafes, quaint old pubs, art galleries, gourmet dining, ghost tours - and the truly wonderful Winter Wonderland. This year the festivities all start with Light Night on Thursday 22 November when the lights on the giant Norwegian Christmas tree, an annual gift from Hordaland will be switched on.
One of the Winter Wonderland highlights is the Big Wheel erected beside the Scott Monument and rising to the height of seven double decker buses. Take a sky-high whirl, 108 feet up into the air for a bird`s eye view of the outdoor skating rink, funfair rides, carousel, bungydome and the sparkling fairy lights in the trees. Young children will enjoy visiting Santa and his herd of reindeer.
The Castle high up on the volcanic rock is the stunning fairytale backdrop for this outdoor Disney-style adventure playground for kids and adults alike. Princes Street Gardens at Christmas has been described as a spectacle to rival New York's Central Park.
"I can't think of anywhere more magical - my best memory of the city in winter is the sound of the carousel mingling with the bagpipes." Kate (UK visitor).
Browse around the traditional German Christmas market of wooden chalet stalls for gifts, chocolates, toys, candles and craftwork, and the Highland Village market selling fine Scottish clothing, cashmere, food and drink.
And there's a feast of entertainment around the city theatres. For musical fans, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat," starring Craig and Keith, the two Scottish finalists in the BBC TV show, Any Dream Will Do, will be showing at The Playhouse from 11 December to 6 January.
Other theatre entertainment includes the children's show, "The Snowman" at the Festival Theatre, King's Theatre pantomime, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and the Wizard of Oz at the Royal Lyceum. In early January, dance fans will enjoy "The Sleeping Beauty" performed by Scottish Ballet.
New Year Events
After Christmas we count down to Hogmanay as more visitors arrive in town. The four day New Year festival begins on 29 December with a Torchlight procession down the Royal Mile to Calton Hill. On the Night afore Fiesta (30th), join in the free for all carnival atmosphere on George Street, with street theatre, music and dancing.
On December 31st, Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party (ticketed event) attracts 100,000 young revellers every year from around the globe who love joining in the celebrations among a friendly Scottish and international crowd. It's a true party, with live performances by top bands and singers on various stages, a ceilidh and spectacular fireworks at midnight from the Castle.
"Edinburgh is the most beautiful city I've ever seen. Breathtaking. I've fallen in love with it. That majestic castle on the top of the rock is amazing." Hogmanay visitor from Milan
Edinburgh in the wintertime is the perfect destination for romantic getaways, Christmas shopping and family fun weekends. In a nutshell a unique, fun and magical festive treat for all ages.