The best things to do in Scotland this Christmas season
Scotland is the perfect place to visit during the winter months, with festive activities taking over across cities – just make sure you pack your big coat.
With three of our prestigious hotels based in Scotland; Eurocentral, Edinburgh and Glasgow, you could say we know a thing or two about the best festive spots to visit, and because your convenience is our top priority, we’ve hand-picked ten of our favourite winter activities for 2023 that you won’t want to miss out on.
Dakota Hotels is perfectly located for you to enjoy all Scotland has to offer while having a luxurious haven to retreat to after a day of exploring this winter season. Make the most of your visit with our range of exclusive specials – including brand-new festive packages, decadent dining experiences, and luxurious private events, designed to make your holiday adventures a touch more magical.
1) Edinburgh Christmas Markets 2023
The Edinburgh Christmas Markets are back for 2023 – running from 17th November to 6th January there is plenty of time to fill your festive boots. The markets are not only a shopper’s paradise, with hundreds of stalls stocking unique and handcrafted treasures, but also a haven for foodies and a hot spot for experience seekers with classic fun fair rides and live events. Oh, and did we mention the hugely popular Edinburgh Ice Rink will be returning – even bigger and better than before? You can find this year’s markets located across East Princes Street, West Princes Street, St Andrew Square, George Street West, and Castle Street. Last year, over 2.5M visitors enjoyed the festivities in the capitol, with this year set to be even bigger – so pre-planning your visit is essential. Located just a 30-minute drive from the centre, Dakota Edinburgh is ideally located for a day out to the markets, whilst being the ideal spot to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre. Book our ‘Tis The Season package and enjoy a festive overnight stay, dinner in the Grill, and a fully cooked breakfast before you depart – the ultimate Edinburgh Christmas staycation awaits.
2) Glasgow Candlelight Concerts
Picture this: a sea of hundreds of enchanting candles, flickering and dancing to the sweet symphony of a string orchestra playing renditions of your favourite popular music as you’ve never heard it before – this could be your reality, thanks to the Candlelight concerts taking place around Glasgow. It’s no surprise that Candlelight concerts have become renowned date night destinations across the city – with the promise of a memorable evening and a truly unique experience it’s the perfect activity to enjoy with a loved one. Elevate your next date night and make it a truly indulgent experience with the addition of Dakota Glasgow’s Date Night special. Enjoy an overnight stay in one of our luxurious rooms, dinner allocation in the Dakota Glasgow Grill, a fully cooked breakfast the following morning, and a complimentary late check out. The perfect date night awaits, book your stay with us today.
3) Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party
Arguably one of the world’s greatest New Year celebrations, the iconic Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Be prepared to see the skies of Scotland lit up by the world-class firework display as thousands of visitors prepare to say goodbye to 2023 and welcome in 2024. A plethora of entertainment is available throughout the evening with live music, funfair attractions, delectable street food, and festive beverages on hand to keep your spirits high the whole evening, as you sing and dance the night away at Scotland’s biggest street party. Looking for something to give your New Year a little extra seasonal magic? The Dakota Edinburgh Hogmanay Sleepover package includes a stay in one of our luxury rooms for two, £30 dinner allocation each for the Dakota Grill, fully cooked breakfast the following morning, and late checkout, so you can start the new year feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Book your Hogmanay Sleepover special now and enjoy a truly spectacular start to 2024.
4) Glasgow’s Irn Bru Carnival
It’s no secret that winter in the North comes with some brisk weather – so if you’re looking for some indoor entertainment to get away from the cold, the Irn Bru Carnival could be just what you’re looking for. Coined as Europe’s largest indoor funfair, visitors can expect an electric atmosphere, buzzing with funfair rides, gigantic inflatable play areas, and carnival game stalls – it’s the ultimate family day out in Glasgow. The carnival is only around for a limited time this winter, opening its doors on the 22nd of December and closing 14th of January so make sure you get tickets early to secure your visit. Make a day of it and enjoy all Glasgow has to offer this winter – when you’re ready to unwind for the evening Dakota Glasgow is perfectly located just a short 10-minute drive from the Scottish Entertainment Centre, making it the perfect base to explore the city’s festivities. Book your overnight stay with Dakota Glasgow and do the holiday season in style.
5) Edinburgh Castle of Light – Magic and Mystery
The Edinburgh Castle is a landmark destination in the city, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year – but have you ever seen the world-famous castle lit up by nightfall? Now is your chance to do just that, thanks to the Castle of Light: Magic and Mystery – a dazzling display of projections that illuminate the castle grounds, creating a mesmerising Christmas light trail for you to enjoy. The outdoor event is set to start on the 24th of November and run until the 3rd of January and is the perfect family outing for the winter season, see a stunning piece of Scottish history as you’ve never experienced it before. Set the tone for an evening of merriment and join us at Dakota Edinburgh for some fine festive dining and spiced cocktails – warm up from the inside out before you set off to explore the beauty of Edinburgh at night. Make your reservation for your festive dining experience, today.
6) Glasgow Ski Centre
Nothing says it’s holiday season like some winter sports – if you’re a fan of adventure, strap on your skis and head down to the Glasgow Ski centre for a fun-filled afternoon on the slopes. Well equipped with 3 different slopes for beginners, intermediate, and experts, no matter what your skill level, you can enjoy the experience all the same. Gather your friends and family and take part in group lessons, tubing parties, freestyling, and race training – there are mountains of fun to be had. If you’re feeling the chill after spending the day on the slopes, the Dakota Grill serves as the perfect cosy destination to unwind. Located a 10-minute drive from Glasgow Ski Centre, we’re the perfect base to enjoy some decadent festive dining and warming cocktails as you reminisce on a day of family fun. Book your festive dining experience with us today.
7) Christmas at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Opening its doors for the seventh consecutive year with an all-new Christmas light trail for you to enjoy is the Christmas Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, a festive must-see for city centre visitors this 2023. With new installations fitted from all around the world viewers can expect some real outdoor holiday magic, with floating fixtures and mesmerising displays designed to highlight the beauty of some of the most popular botanic attractions the garden has to offer. In keeping with the sustainable ethos of the gardens all the installations this year are low energy to be sympathetic with the environment – with proceeds from the event helping to fund the important conservation work of the Botanics.
8) M&D’s Scotland Theme Park – Believe in Santa
Looking for a magical Christmas experience for the whole family – without a trip to the busy cities? Motherwell’s M&Ds Scotland Theme Park is hosting their ‘Believe in Santa’ event again this year – promising even more festive sparkle than before. Opening from the 25th of November to the 24th of December it’s a festive extravaganza not to be missed – with fun fair rides, arcade games, and the unique opportunity to visit Santa’s Workshop and his reindeers, it’s a family favourite destination for the holidays. If you’re looking to add something extra special to your visit M&D’s ‘On Ice’ is back by popular demand – strap on your skates and glide under the stars at the open-air ice rink. Dakota Eurocentral is just a short 5-minute drive from the Theme Park – so when you’re full to the brim of Christmas cheer you can retreat to your tranquil base and enjoy an evening of relaxation as you reminisce on the day’s events. Book your overnight stay at Dakota Eurocentral, or take advantage of our festive specials.
9) Christmas Shopping at Buchanan Street, Glasgow
The season of gift-giving can only mean one thing – shopping, and lots of it. Luckily, Scotland is well equipped with hugely popular shopping destinations across the country – Glasgow’s bustling Buchanan Street being one of the most frequented shopping destinations. Packed with familiar high-street names and exclusive designer outlets travelers can shop ‘til they drop whilst appreciating the beauty of the local Victorian-style architecture. During the holiday season, you can expect the streets to be lit up with festive shop front displays and dancing streetlights – whilst local entertainers surprise and delight with performances for passers-by. When your feet are aching and you’re ready for a well-deserved break Dakota Glasgow offers a serene escape, just a short ten-minute walk from the high street. It’s time to sit, back, relax and enjoy some festive dining and spiced cocktails, the perfect Christmas-y end to the day. Book your festive dining experience with us today and enjoy all the flavours of the season prepared with premium quality ingredients.
10) Christmas in Luxury with Dakota Hotels
If you’re looking for a more laid-back, luxurious festive experience – Dakota Hotels is the perfect escape for you. We have exclusive seasonal offerings across Eurocentral, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, from unforgettable dining experiences to luxurious overnight stays – there truly is no place like Dakota to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. Gather your loved ones and book a decadent private dining experience at Dakota Edinburgh, treat yourself to a dreamy overnight stay with our exclusive festive specials at Dakota Glasgow, or get the party started with extra special New Year celebrations at Dakota Eurocentral’s Hogmanay ball. Peruse our festive brochures and conjure up your perfect festive staycation in Scotland – it’s time to indulge, unwind and relax.