Celebrate the Traditions of Christmas at Scotland’s Best-loved Castles

by Lexa Pennington /
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Nov 19, 2009 / 0 comments


Where better to celebrate the traditions of Christmas than amidst the historic grandeur of Scotland’s best-loved castles?

The spectacular surroundings of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles are hosting some very special festive events designed to delight young and old alike.

The Story of Christmas - at Stirling Castle on Sunday 6th December and at Edinburgh Castle on Sunday 13th December - promises one of the most original highlights of the festive season.  In a packed programme of entertainment, the events comprise a series of amusing and informative shows illustrating how the celebration of Christmas has evolved over the centuries.

A cast of costumed interpreters portraying a host of historic characters will take visitors on a yuletide journey through the ages, from the origins of the festive season right through to the Christmas traditions of the present.  Lively performances at both attractions from 12.30 to 3.30pm will highlight how the season’s festivities have developed from early pagan ceremonies and Christian celebrations, through the dark days of Oliver Cromwell’s proclamation banning Christmas, to the times of Mary Queen of Scots and later, Robert Burns.

There’s also a focus on a Victorian Christmas - when most of our current festive traditions such as Christmas trees, cards and crackers date from – as well as a humorous look at a Christmas of the more recent past, in the 1970s, when Bay City Rollers LPs, lava lamps and chopper bikes featured highly on Santa’s lists.

The Story of Christmas is included in the cost of admission to Edinburgh and Stirling Castles.  Admission tickets can be bought in advance by visiting www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk or www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk

Historic Scotland events manager Nick Finnigan said: “We wanted to do something really different and completely original for our festive family event this year at Stirling and Edinburgh Castles, and ‘The Story of Christmas’ will be just that.

“We’ve some great entertainment lined up and lots of fun in store, but the events will also be educational as they’ll help young and old find out how the celebration of Christmas developed through history, and how some of our favourite festive traditions came about.”

And the highly popular tradition of carol singing is the focus of another seasonal treat at the two castles.

At Stirling Castle, on Sunday 13th December from 7.30pm to 9pm, the magnificent Great Hall is the setting for Christmas Carols at The Castle.  Award-winning Cadenza choir will be joined by a local children’s group and a costumed storyteller to perform Christmas choral favourites.  Tickets (priced £10 for adults and £8 for concessions and Historic Scotland members) can be purchased from Stirling’s Albert Halls, tel. 01786 473544.

And Edinburgh Castle’s stunning 16th century banqueting hall is the venue on Sunday 20th December for Christmas Carols In The Great Hall.  Come along to this free event, at 1pm, 2pm or 3pm, to enjoy the vocal talents of Edinburgh Grand Opera as they sing a selection of favourite carols, and make the most of the incredible acoustics of the Great Hall’s original hammerbeam roof.

Nick Finnigan said: “Both castles are outstanding events venues at any time of the year, but Christmas is particularly special, and for me, there’s nowhere more magical to celebrate the festive season.  Our family events and carol concerts are designed to enable everyone to experience a truly wonderful and memorable Christmas at these iconic Scottish castles. ”

·        Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s leading heritage attraction.  It offers a great day out, with a wealth of highlights to explore, including: The Honours of Scotland – the nation’s crown jewels; The Stone of Destiny – the coronation stone of the ancient kings of Scots; The Great Hall, Laich Hall, King’s Dining Room and St Margaret’s Chapel - some of the remarkable medieval rooms and buildings where kings, queens and great nobles wined, dined and worshipped; Mons Meg – a huge medieval siege gun; The One O’clock Gun – fired daily, except the Sabbath and certain holidays, as a time signal.

* Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture.  From the castle’s ramparts, visitors can take in views over two of Scotland’s most important battle sites – Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314).  The castle is at the head of Stirling’s historic old town.

* Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places

* Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

* Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.


All information contained herein provided by Historic Scotland