Winter is a fantastic time to visit Edinburgh, the spectacular capital city of Scotland. The average temperature of five degrees centigrade converts to a respectable 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Misty mornings complement the brooding atmosphere of the medieval castle. Brace for the cold north or east wind and keep a warm garment handy. Better yet, duck into one of the cosy pubs for a chill-chasing brew.
The castle that dominates Edinburgh’s skyline is built on Castle Rock, a stronghold for over 3,000 years. Archaeological evidence shows that the site was occupied as early as 900 BC, the late Bronze Age. The Roman Occupation during the first and second centuries produced a thriving fortified community known as Din Eidyn, the fort of Eidyn. The Angles christened the place Edinburgh around 638 AD.
The castle, which was taken only twice during its long history, draws well over a million visitors each year. The oldest existing building on the site is St Margaret’s Chapel, built in the early 12th century. Most of the other buildings were built after the Lange Siege, when the fort was largely destroyed during the 16th century.
The town built outwards from the castle, beginning with the Lawnmarket area. The Old Town centre boasts tightly packed historic buildings that line the Royal Mile. At the foot of this street stand the Parliament and the Palace of Holy Roodhouse. Steep, winding streets characterize Old Town.
With the crowded conditions of 1766, a competition for building plans was held, and New Town was born. Princes Street is central to this village within the city, with its stately Georgian architecture and stylish modern stores.
Shopaholics will especially appreciate the West End boutiques, particularly William and Stafford streets. Many dining choices await the visitor here, only a few minutes’ walk from Princes St.
The quaint cobbled streets of the Grass market were once the site of executions and a medieval marketplace. This is another excellent area for shoppers and diners who appreciate the history-laden atmosphere.
Shoppers will also enjoy Stockbridge with its stores featuring vintage clothes, antiques and unique arts and crafts. Leith, the city’s seaside quarter beckons with serene waterfront views and stylish boutiques interspersed with historic sites.
A winter visit to Edinburgh may coincide with its world-famous festivals, starting in late November with Light Night, when the city sparkles with the first display of festival lights and performances. St Andrews Day soon follows. This weekend-long celebration of Scotland’s patron saint culminates in a spectacular fireworks display and the procession along the castle esplanade, complete with glowing lanterns made by school children.
Festival continues with the outdoor Christmas markets, highlighted by the skating rink and the Edinburgh Wheel. Finally, Hogmanay brings in the New Year in spectacular style. The fun begins with a torchlight parade led by “Vikings” down the Royal Mile, culminating in a fireworks display. From street party to a candlelit concert at St Giles Cathedral, the Hogmanay celebration extends for three days. Witness the Looney Dook, brave souls who immerse in the waters of the Forth and earn money for charity. Ice skate under the famous Edinburgh Wheel. This is a new year’s celebration you’ll never forget.
January 25 brings Burns Night, which annually honours the poet Robert Burns. Edinburgh Castle Pub hosts a celebration complete with bagpipes, poetry and buffet for a $10 ticket. Many Edinburgh residents throw their own Burns Night dinners. Join in a reading of “Ode to Haggis” and celebrate Rabbie in style.
Edinburgh is an ideal winter destination for history buffs, shoppers and partygoers alike. Chase away the gloom with a rousing chorus and a warming drink. It’s a winter lover’s paradise.
Sarah writes on behalf of Reserve Apartments a serviced apartments website which can help you to find accommodation for your holiday or business trip. Looking for quality Edinburgh apartments? Visit ReserveApartments.co.uk for their latest offers.