Scottie's Monthly Photo Diary

- December 2014 - Edinburgh Christmas

I never go anywhere in Scotland without my camera and I take photographs wherever I go. Sometimes I go somewhere specifically to take photographs with a view to adding another page to the Rampant Scotland site. On other occasions I just see something that makes an attractive picture or else it's another graphic to add to the library to perhaps use on a future occasion.

This is a selection of photographs I took in central Edinburgh of the Christmas decorations. There is a commentary on each one.

A similar collection of Christmas themed graphics taken in central Glasgow is also available at .

I have often gone round central Edinburgh taking photos of the lights and festive attractions while the rain poured down and the wind made holding the camera in one hand and under a large golf umbrella in the other somewhat difficult. So it was a pleasure this year on the day when I was taking pictures to find the sun shining and the skies blue - even if it was a bit chilly!

Although most of the entertainment in the centre of Edinburgh is similar to last year, the organisers have "shuffled the pack" and there is a greater concentration in the higher section of Princes Street gardens, beside the main road. That sunshine and the blue sky produces a nice overview in this picture taken in the afternoon.

The skating rink is one of the attractions which has moved this year and it is now located beside the 19th century, but Disney-like Scott Monument. Having skated just once in my life I was impressed by the number of young children on the ice rink - though some were pushing model penguins to reduce the number of falls!

The picture reminded me that the clock on the Balmoral Hotel, beside Waverley railway station is always three minutes fast to encourage rail travellers to hurry up to catch their train! The other side of that coin is that, on occasions I have thought I had missed the train and started to slow down!
I'm still impressed by the zoom capability of my latest digital compact camera. Pocket sized, it can still take pictures equivalent to a 70X zoom lens of a digital single lens reflex. And with wi-fi, pictures can be transmitted to a mobile phone and sent as email attachments. Having taken the close up of the clock face (on the left) of the Balmoral (above) I couldn't resist going closer and took the graphic on the right. The original picture shows a few spots of rust on the hands of the clock! Not bad for a small hand held snapshot.

Before you ask - no, I didn't go on the Star Flyer. The chairs are 60 metres (nearly 200 feet above the ground and fly around at around same height as top of the nearby Scott Monument. Last year there were some "incidents" with the Star Flyer in Edinburgh and thee one in Cardiff this year developed a fault which resulted in the passengers being suspended in the air for about 15 minutes. Great for photos, I suppose...

Although more sedate, I didn't go on the Carousel either!

The "Children's Market" here was full of attractions for younger age groups including a train ride and an Ice Dragon (see below)

"Ice Dragon" - the imposing entrance.

This was really another train ride but pulled along by a dragon! The parents looked as though they were enjoying it as much as the kids!

Of course, in Scotland (on the same latitude as Labrador after all) night falls quite early in winter so by 4pm the Christmas lights were coming into their own. You can compare this night-time picture with the one near the top of the page showing where everything is in daylight. The carousel is in all its lit-up glory and the Star Flyer is whirling around beside the outline of the Scott Monument while the Balmoral Hotel (opened in 1902) was known as the North British Hotel until the late 1980s.

This view of the Prince Street lights and attractions was taken from further up the "Mound" towards the castle at the top. The Christmas tree is a gift every year from Norway - it is a symbol of Norwegian gratitude towards the United Kingdom for preserving Norwegian liberty during the Second World War. Trees are sent to London and Edinburgh as well as Coventry, Newcastle and Sunderland in England.

Just to add to the magic of Christmas, the moon began to rise into the sky from behind the Balmoral Hotel. If it had been the usual cloudy skies, of course, it wouldn't have been seen.

Not really lit up for Christmas, the Bank of Scotland Head Office is lit up at night most of the year.

George Street is another main thoroughfare in central Edinburgh. Many of the imposing large bank offices there have been sold in recent years and some - such as "The Dome" here, have become bars and restaurants.

The latest tourist attraction in Edinburgh is the new tramway system that runs from the city centre to Edinburgh airport a distance of 14 kilometres (8.7 miles). The scheme was initially estimated to cost 375 million in 2003, but by May 2008, when contracts were signed, the cost had risen to 521 million. After extra interest payments are factored in, the final cost is expected to top 1 billion. Construction began in June 2008, but the opening was delayed and it finally opened to passengers on 31 May 2014.

The German Market in Princes Street Gardens has been a feature of Edinburgh's Christmas for many years. The stalls sell mainly ornaments, clothing, food and drink.

There are a number of stalls selling various kinds of dolls - I particularly enjoyed the "Scotties" in this stall with pipes and drums!

Many of the stalls had wood carvings from Bavaria - these ones were all of Bavarian/Swiss style houses.

The Witchery Restaurant is on the Royal Mile near Edinburgh Castle and is popular with tourists. The building is said to be haunted by one of the thousand people who were burned for witchcraft on Castlehill in the 15th and 16th centuries. Celebrities who have stayed in the overnight accommodation at the Witchery include Andrew Lloyd Webber and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Edinburgh Castle is usually lit up at night even when it is not Christmas. Towering above Princes Street, it is a focal point during the fireworks display during the Hogmanay celebrations on 31 December each year. More people pay to go in to Edinburgh Castle than any other Scottish tourist attraction - and thousands more each year see it from the outside, while walking along Princes Street below.

If you want to read the other Diary entries going back to 2009, there is an Index page.

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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