Edinburgh is bewitching at all times of year but arguably the most captivating time is before and during Christmas. From early December the area in Princes Gardens is turned into an enchanted frozen amphitheatre. The faerie wonderland buzzing with a German Christmas market and overflowing with handmade, wooden and delicate trinkets, along with carnival rides and a gigantic ice-rink.
This is undoubtably the highlight of what can be a murderously cold, dark and frozen part of the Scottish winter. Everything is shrouded in mist which can be quite atmospheric. Although it’s not long before the powdery flakes of the first snows turn to sludge underfoot.
Looking back on my time in Edinburgh, where I lived for several years, I found these photos and I was instantly back there, trudging through knee high snow in the dark and then coming upon this glittering, luminous wonderland.
I used to trudge to early shifts at work in outer Edinburgh and felt like a slowly defrosting million year old cave woman each morning.
Despite the punishing, isolating and paralyzing cold, one thing would never fail to pep me up. Going to the Christmas markets, and seeing the hub-bub and Christmas spectacle. It was the very definition of hygge or cosiness, which I covered in another article at length. It heartened me and gladdened my soul.
There was nothing at the markets or carnival I wanted or needed, it was just a lovely place to mill about and spend some time and perhaps enjoy some hot spiced gluwein, hot ginger ale or a fortifying and smoky dram of whiskey. Custom Christmas gingerbread with ‘I love you’ written in icing- sugar in German, French and Scots were a favourite gift. Romantic by nature, the Christmas markets and the ice rink were a place to indulge in a tangible feeling of nostalgia and to hold your dear ones closer to you.
I would arrive home to my cold Edinburgh flat and feel instantly revived and reborn. The magic of the Christmas markets was never fully unveiled to me. There was an unassailable atmosphere and the feeling that despite the piercing ‘baltic’ winds, that I could cultivate and enjoy that feeling of cosiness and carry it in my heart until the first sprouts of spring arose again.