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Wrap Up Warm for Christmas Shopping in Edinburgh's Winter Wonderland



Edinburgh is a beautiful city at any time of year, but it really comes into its own in the run up to Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year’s). The city is decked in lights and a host of attractions are laid on to get everyone into the festive spirit and to encourage shoppers and revellers into the centre of town.

Between 30 November and 24 December the Royal Mile from the City Chambers to the Trongate will be illuminated by over 60,000 lights for the Virgin Money Street of life, a free event. The lights in the capital are turned on in another free event on November 22, which culminates in a spectacular fireworks display. The center of Edinburgh is transformed into a winter wonderland with a fairground, an ice rink and a sixty meter high star flyer which offers breath-taking views of the city. There will also be a host of festive shows at the Spiegeltent.

Shoppers will be spoilt for choice over the Christmas period. Pick of the bunch are the beautifully lit Christmas Markets in Princes Street Gardens and St Andrews Square, which offer a wide variety of festive treats and wonderful present ideas. Or perhaps escape the chilly winter air in Edinburgh’s iconic department store, Jenner’s, to pick from a huge range of Christmas goodies. Traditionalists will find all of the hand painted gifts and decorations they could ever want in the Nutcracker Christmas Shop.


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Worthy winners of Best Newcomer (Scotland & North England) at the Greats Gift Retailer Awards 2010, Eero and Riley is home to a wide array of quality and contemporary home ware, local crafts and gifts. As well as beautiful homemade cards and stationary, high quality ceramics and quirky jewelry they offer a number of rather more unique items such as personalized baby blankets and very reasonably priced designer handbags. They also feature a number of quirky items such as upcycled "clootilugs" (birds and brooches made from recycled cloth) and incredibly cute ceramic piggy banks which alone are worth the visit.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Eero & Riley has a great selection of quirky and humorous gifts which make perfect Christmas presents.

Simon's expert tip: Less known to tourists due to its location on East Road, but a hidden gem which is well worth a look.

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John Lewis is a superb Edinburgh department store, in fact it is the largest department store in Scotland. You'll find it at the East end of Princes Street within the St. James Center shopping mall. There are several floors serving everything from electronics to bed linen. There is also an excellent toy department and the store is family friendly, with great nappy changing facilities, and a comfortable cafe and restaurant. You'll find helpful staff and a great range of goods on offer here. If you want to find everything under one roof then John Lewis is your best bet for success.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: With a great selection of gifts and goodies John Lewis is an excellent place to shop for Christmas.

Simon's expert tip: Head to the top floor for a great restaurant and stunning views over the city.

Read more about John Lewis →


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Portobello/Joppa/Musselburgh


Cove is a delightful gift shop located on Portobello High Street, a short bus ride from the city center. Cove is brimming with retro toys, beautiful cards and delightful gifts and the staff are always friendly and eager to help. Many gifts are themed to the season, so you will want to visit again and again. As most of the items are made by independent producers Cove is the perfect antidote to city center weariness and the endless parade of familiar brand names. Check out their Facebook page for updates on special events and new lines of gifts and toys - you will be glad you did!

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Cove is a wonderful independent retailer with a host of gifts and toys

Simon's expert tip: If you are having trouble choosing, as the staff for help - they often have other goodies not on show

Read more about Cove →


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It is Christmas all year round in Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe on the Royal Mile and you will always receive a hearty welcome. This quirky little shop has been selling traditional Christmas decorations and gifts for over two decades and remains as popular as ever. They have a huge range of beautiful hand painted wooden toys and ornaments, bells and chimes, candles and cards, and some really cute embroidered tartan themed gifts and decorations. The shop does tend towards a rather kitsch shortbread tin depiction of Scottish culture, but it is all in good fun and tourists will find it a wonderful place to browse.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe has been celebrating Christmas on the Royal Mile for over two decades.

Simon's expert tip: Worthy of note, even if it is not to everyone's taste, is the range of Christmas tunes played on the bagpipes!

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Present Boutique, just off the Royal Mile, is a lovely little gift shop filled with quirky and humorous gifts. The stock has a notably retro, kitsch feel to it and there are many unusual items, including hand-painted balloons, genuinely unique jewelry, and original handmade cards. They also offer an impressive range of gifts for pets, many of which have been tested by the owner's dog Bunty who is often to be found relaxing in her basket in the shop. Present Boutique is also very proud of its eco credentials and social conscience, with many gifts sourced locally from co-operatives and ethical producers, and a commitment to use recycled raw materials and no plastic bags.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Present Boutique has great vintage and retro gifts and is one of the few shops to also cater for pets.

Simon's expert tip: Check out the cool range of dog t-shirts – the perfect gift for your favorite pooch.

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Hannah Zakari is an independent boutique specializing in quirky and handmade items from indie designers. The name of the shop derives from the Japanese term "hanazakari" meaning blossoming, and its owner Rachael Lamb is dedicated to supporting independent artists. The result is an impressive range of jewelry, handbags, accessories, home ware and art, which is both beautiful and unusual, and has caught the eye of publications such as Vogue, Grazia, The Guardian, Your Cat and Tatler. This treasure trove is located on Candlemakers Row, close to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and is a great place to buy a unique gift.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Hannah Zakari is an independent boutique selling beautiful and unique gifts and jewelry.

Simon's expert tip: Look out for the wonderfully named "Designosaur" jewelry which appeals to the big kid in all of us.

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Bliss is a wonderful little gift shop situated in Stockbridge. It has a great range of jewelry, handbags, candles, handmade soaps, handmade cards and quirky home ware, making it the perfect place to pick up a gift that is a little out of the ordinary. However, where it comes into its own is in the gifts for little ones, including beautiful wooden toys and soft toys. There's also a great selection of gorgeous clothes for babies and children, such as super cool Rockstar babygrows and lovely soft nightwear for toddlers. If you are looking for a gift for a newborn or young child Bliss is definitely the place to start.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Bliss is a great place to get cute and unusual Christmas presents for babies and toddlers.

Simon's expert tip: Don't miss the irresistibly cute Starchild shoes for babies.

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They celebrate Christmas all year long in the Nutcracker Christmas Shop and the wide range of decorations and gifts is bound to raise your Christmas spirits. This little gem of a shop stocks a range of delightful and quirky hand-carved wooden nutcrackers by Steinbach and Ulbricht in Germany, and some beautiful and delicately carved wooden nativity figures in cute little wooden nativity stables. They also have a great selection of Christmas stockings and a remarkably wide array of table decorations and hanging decorations for your Christmas tree. The shop has a magical atmosphere, complemented by the enthusiasm and warmth of the staff who never seem to tire of Christmas music!

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The Nutcracker Christmas Shop excels in traditional hand-carved Christmas gifts and decorations.

Simon's expert tip: The range of quirky, and sometimes even slightly creepy, nutcrackers makes a great talking point at Christmas parties.

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Jenners is an old-fashioned department store on Princes Street. It dates back to 1838 although the current building opened in 1895. It is a stunning Edinburgh landmark and is well worth a visit simply to enjoy the architecture and the nostalgic department store feel. The store has been family-owned for most of its history but it was acquired by House of Fraser in 2005. Thankfully it still enjoys a unique identity and you'll find a wide range of clothing and goods within, including a great toy department. It is something of a labyrinth within so you can get lost easily, be prepared to take your time browsing everything this store has to offer.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Jenners has a stunning selection of Christmas gifts and one of the largest Christmas trees you are likely to see anywhere.

Simon's expert tip: The best time of year to visit Jenners is definitely Christmas time when they erect a huge tree and decorate the store in lavish style.

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Every year, between November 22 and January 5, the center of Edinburgh plays host to a collection of wonderful Christmas markets. The European Market stretches from the National Gallery on the Mound all the way along Princes Street Gardens and right up to St Andrews Square and features a host of gorgeous wooden toys and ornaments, German artisan delicacies, including sausages and gingerbread, and a wide range of arts and crafts stalls. The Children's Market in St Andrews Square sells beautiful hand crafted toys and offers little ones a chance to express their artistic side with a craft workshop and a gingerbread decorating workshop. Finally, there is the Scottish Market also in St Andrews Square with a plethora of Scottish goodies, including craft beers, local delicacies, clothing and jewelry. Great for shopping and browsing these markets are a fine way to get into the festive spirit.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The Christmas Markets in the center of Edinburgh are jam packed with lovely goodies and festive treats guaranteed to get you into the holiday mood.

Simon's expert tip: The markets are open between 10am and 10pm, but if you want the full experience head there in the evening as the lights twinkling in the trees are simply beautiful.

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Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

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