From the Borders to the Orkney Islands, discover all the Christmas traditions across Scotland

Winter Wonderland

This month, as part of our Christmas competition, we’ve been asking our followers about the Christmas traditions in their towns, villages and neighbourhoods here in Scotland.

The response has been so good, that we wanted to share them with you and spread the Christmas magic across Scotland.

Everyone in Scotland knows about the Christmas Market that takes place in Edinburgh, with rides and the Big Wheel. But you might not know that every year there’s a light show with music, the museums do crafting sessions, and they held a Big Sleep in the Park to raise money to eradicate homelessness.

Glasgow is famous for the Christmas Markets as well, the pantomime and the lights along Buchanan Street and George Square, but there are more things going on. For example in the Gorbals all the community living there gather round the Christmas tree when the lights get switched on with their cups of tea and sing Christmas songs. The community in Ballieston take their Christmas decorating seriously, with the houses looking like a scene from Home Alone!

In Milngavie there’s the Makers Market which is a treasure trove of handmade Christmas goodies found in Scotland. This year in Greenock, there’s a restaurant that will open at Christmas to serve 3 course meals donated by the community for those who are alone during the festive time.

In Giffnock the Christmas festival has singers, circus performers, cheerleaders, fairground rides and of course Santa, the perfect plan for a family day out!

We found that in Oban, Christmas begins with a community-run Winter Festival that has a reindeer parade and at the Christmas market, the Hot Toddy from Oban Distillery is the must-have drink!

In Inverness the switching on of the lights has a torchlight procession, pipe band dressed in festive costumes and Santa turning on the lights. And they have an ‘Elf on the shelf’ hunt in the Victorian Market. It sounds amazing!

If we move up north, to Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, the Christmas day tradition is to play a game called ‘The Ba’. It involves two teams of boys and men (the Uppies and the Doonies) who are pitted against each other in a battle to get a leather ball to one of two locations at either side of the town. The struggle can last hours, with the ball often disappearing, only to emerge suddenly from the crowd and cause a scuffle. Fortunately, nearby cafes open to provide the excited onlookers with warming tea and bacon rolls. The team who achieve victory choose a winner from amongst themselves, who keeps the ball as a trophy.

In the Borders, apart from a big Christmas lights switch on and bands playing music during the festive period, we heard that a lot of the local people living there help the homeless by giving them food. Now that’s the real Christmas spirit!

A really fun tradition happens in a small town called Burghead on Christmas day, people go there to jump off the pier into the freezing cold sea wearing various funny outfits for charity and then everyone heads to the local pub to warm up!

Aberdeen looks so Christmassy, with a Santa parade, the German style market and of course the mulled wine! A must for the colds nights! Mulled wine and mince pies are also part of the typical food that you can find in the Christmas market in the small village of Dairsie in Fife.

If you go to Perth you’ll see ice sculptures on the streets and on Christmas Eve there’s always carol singing at St. John’s Kirk. And one of our followers told us that her neighbour is decorating the communal areas with lights, baubles and a tree, just to make the neighbourhood look more festive.

In Lanarkshire there are a lot of local events, such as bedtime stories with Santa, carol singing, reindeer day plus Christmas lights switch on, market stalls and pantomime!

As you can see Scotland knows how to celebrate Christmas!! And the good thing is, that although in every town, village or neighbourhood there are different traditions, all of our followers agreed on one thing, they love celebrating Christmas with their families and beloved ones.

If you want to share your Christmas memories with us go to our competition blog post and you could even win £100 voucher to spend in Marks and Spencer.

2 Responses to “From the Borders to the Orkney Islands, discover all the Christmas traditions across Scotland”

  1. Nicola Clark says:

    Here in East Kilbride Santa and his reindeers had a parade to his grotto which is in the shopping centre
    Then the following week Santa switched on the Xmas tree (light a life tree for St Andrews hospice )and the lights within the old village area and the main route to the shopping centre
    There we had a Xmas market and a funfair for the children☃️

  2. Thank you very much! There is a market this Saturday 23 December 11am-4pm at Milngavie Town Hall (across the street from Milgnavie train station).

    Hope to see you there. All of our market dates are on

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