Scottie's Photo Diary

- Edinburgh Christmas Lights

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 project. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels which can be shared by everyone!

This is a selection of photographs I took of Edinburgh Christmas Lights in December 2016.

Princes Street Gardens

The Ferris wheel close by the Scott Monument is 42 metres (nearly 140 feet) tall, the wheel has 27 rotating Gondolas to take the passengers for a unique view over the city.

Jenners department store, now part of the House of Fraser group since 2005, has its own unusual colour scheme, seen behind the Ferris wheel. Jenners has been in that location Princes Street since 1838 (although the original building was destroyed by fire 1in 1892. In those Victorian days the female figures around the building serving as an architectural support were used at the insistence of Charles Jenner 'to show symbolically that women are the support of the house'.

While there are other parts of central Edinburgh that have major lighting displays it is Princes Street Gardens which has grown over the years into the centre-piece of the Christmas lighting displays. Running along Princes Street, the main retail shopping centre in the city and overlooked by Edinburgh Castle, with the Scott monument (which often think looks like a Disney castle), the giant Ferris wheel, the merry-go-round, "Santa Land", the European Market and - in recent years - the "Sky Flyer" whirling its screaming passengers round high in the sky, there are sights and sounds for all! At 200 feet high, however, the Scott monument rises above them all.

While looking for an interesting angle for a picture of the Ferris Wheel I noticed the statue of Adam Black who was twice Lord Provost of Edinburgh in the 19th century overshadowed by the wheel. I wondered if he would have approved of the commercialisation of the city in this fashion. But as a founder of the A& C Black publishing company which produced the 7th to 9th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, perhaps he would have been very much in favour!

Beyond Princes Street Gardens lies the Balmoral Hotel (with its clock traditionally kept two minutes fast to encourage intending travellers to hurry up if they were a bit late for their train!). The lights in the right foreground are from some of the platforms in Waverley Station. Built in 1846, I sometimes wonder if the railway company had to apply for planning permission today to run a railway line through Princes Street Gardens, below Edinburgh Castle, what the answer would have been? As it was, even in Victorian times the line had to stop at Haymarket, short of the Princes Street Gardens. It was only later that planning permission was granted for the extension with a deep cutting to disguise its presence (smoke in the days of steam trains was a bit of a give-away!)

The hill which rises up from Princes Street Gardens to the castle is called "The Mound" and each year a large Christmas tree is located near the top of the slope. This is the view from jut above the tree looking down at the lights below. The neo-classical buildings are the National Gallery of Scotland with the Royal Scottish Academy behind, both buildings designed by William Henry Playfair.

In the lowest part of Princes Street Gardens a maze is lit by thousands of bulbs as a major part of "Santa Land" created especially to entertain the younger visitors!

The Scott Monument with the white Carrara marble statue of Sir Walter underneath shows up quite well but the "Star Flyer" modules became a blur as they sped round.

George Street and Street of Light

The previous "Street of Light" installation on the Royal Mile was a disappointment as the lights only came on for a short time. In its new location in George Street its 60,000 lights created a stunning canopy of light and was impressive as soon as it got dark. At times, the lights were synchronised to music by choirs and musicians and there was a "Scottish Market with various stalls selling food and souvenirs.

There are 24 arches each 19 metres (62 feet) high covered in a total of 60,000 bulbs. The lights were accompanied in the evening by taped music from local choirs and bands including the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, Blaziní Fiddles and Scotlandís very own bhangra group Tigerstyle.

The light show ran from 21 November - 24 December. There is a video of part of the show at YouTube

Further along George Street the twinkling lights on the bare "branches" almost seem pedestrian by comparison with the "Street of Light" display!

Originally a branch of one of the Scottish banks, this building never had Christmas decorations like these round its neo-classical columns - now the "Dome" restaurant and bar.

The venerable George Hotel (now branded as "The Principal Edinburgh" has added to its display of lights this year. Originally built in the 1780s as individual town houses, the buildings have been insurance offices, lodgings, and an artist's studio as well as a hotel.

In Georgian times the poet Robert Burns paid many visits, here as did the author Sir Walter Scott. In more modern times celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Kylie Minogue have visited. The modern "Principal Edinburgh" The Principal Edinburgh was voted Best Hotel in Edinburgh at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2009.

When known as the The George Hotel, their in-house restaurant, the Tempus Bar & Restaurant, was voted Best Bar and Lounge at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2009. The restaurant and bar has now been renamed "The Printing Press". The name gives a nod to the building's rich history - Number 25 was home in the 1780s to the acclaimed novelist Susan Ferrier, the equal of Jane Austen according to Sir Walter Scott. Late in 1840, records show one John Oliphant living there and Oliphant´s and Ferrier´s descendants founded Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, one of Scotland´s most prestigious publishing houses.


St Giles Cathedral on High Street is always floodlit at night in the winter months but the addition of a decorated Christmas tree adds to the Festive air.

This picture of the ornate statue of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch may well feature in a future Clan Scott Scotland Pictorial Calendar which is made available only to Members of the Clan Scott Scotland organisation.

Edinburgh Castle, high above Princes Street and the festivities taking place in Princes Street Gardens creates a unique back-drop to all the entertainment taking place below

Originally described as a "German Market" there are more stalls than ever selling food, drink and souvenirs to the late night crowds thronging the concourse and it is now as a "European Market".

Once the UK is no longer part of the European Union, I wonder if these stalls will remain and whether the Europeans who come over for the event will need a special visa to get into the UK?

This is a map display showing the location of the various events in Edinburgh city centre.

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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