Eight festive things to do in Aberdeen

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Aberdeen! As the holiday season approaches, the Granite City comes alive with an array of exciting events and activities for locals and visitors alike. Whether you are seeking family-friendly fun, or simply looking to embrace the festive spirit, this blog shares the 8 of the best things to do in Aberdeen during Christmastime.

Enjoy a trip to Aberdeen’s Christmas Village where there is fun for all the family, from the fairground rides and ice-skating, to delicious festive food and drinks.

The Christmas Tree at Castlegate photo © Copyright Amy Leith

1. See the impressive Christmas lights on Union Street

The first thing we recommend doing is to take a stroll down the Granite Mile to admire the beautiful Christmas lights (as seen in the header image). The twinkling lights create a spectacular display, setting the perfect backdrop for a leisurely evening walk. After enjoying the dazzling lights, be sure to visit the 35-foot-tall Christmas tree at Castlegate (at the eastern end of Union Street), which is donated every year by Aberdeen’s twin town of Stavanger in Norway.

2. Watch a Christmas carol concert at Duthie Park

Attending the Christmas carol concert at the David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. The Winter Gardens is a popular spot in Aberdeen, renowned for its indoor plant collection and beautiful Victorian features.

This free event will take place on Saturday 16th December 2023 at 11am, 12:15pm and 3pm. Attendees can sing along to some popular Christmas carols to the accompaniment of the Bon Accord Silver Band. Spaces are limited to around 200 people per performance, and it is organised as a first-come, first-serve basis.

Walking through Aberdeen’s Christmas Village photo © Copyright Amy Leith

3. Visit Aberdeen’s Christmas Village

Visiting Aberdeen’s Christmas markets is a must-do on this list! Located on Broad Street, the Christmas markets capture the magical feeling of the holiday season with something for the whole family to enjoy, from the festive fairground to the outdoor ice rink.

In the heart of the markets, you can find the ‘Village Square’ where you can enjoy a selection of street food including German Bratwursts, mulled wine, Dutch pancakes or even an indulgent Bailey’s hot chocolate, from a range of local food legends.

4. Visit Santa’s Grotto

Visiting Santa’s Grotto is a magical experience, especially for the younger ones in the family. Luckily, there are numerous places in Aberdeen where you can meet Santa and his elves, including the Bon Accord Centre, Codonas Amusement Park and Dobbies – just to name a few!

It is worth noting that a lot of Santa’s Grottos require pre-booking to guarantee your allocated time with Santa, so we always recommend that you plan your dates ahead of time.

Christmas markets are a great place for buying unique presents photo © Copyright VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

5. Do some Christmas shopping

Aberdeen is the perfect destination to do your Christmas shopping as it is filled with an abundance of unique finds. With three shopping centres (Bon Accord, Trinity Centre and Union Square) all within walking distance of each other, and charming independent retailers just off Union Street in the West End and along the nearby Rosemount.

The ‘Curated in the Quad’ is another great place to discover one-of-a-kind gifts, handcrafted ornaments and jewellery, clothing, as well as some yummy treats! Found in the quadrangle at Marischal College, this event will see a unique line-up of stalls each weekend in the lead up to Christmas with both new and established small businesses taking part.

You can read our guide to Christmas shopping in Aberdeen here.

His Majesty’s Theatre is a popular place to see a Christmas pantomime in Aberdeen photo © Copyright Bill Harrison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

6. Enjoy a classic Christmas pantomime

Aberdeen offers a variety of pantomime shows during the holiday season, providing entertainment for all ages. From classic fairytales to modern adaptations, these performances are filled with laughter, music and spectacular costumes. His Majesty’s Theatre, the Tivoli Theatre and the Aberdeen Arts Centre are just some of the main venues which are hosting these fantastic productions.

Whether you are cheering for the heroes, booing the villains, or joining in with the catchy songs, watching a pantomime is a heartwarming and entertaining way to spend an evening in Aberdeen during December.

7. Head out for a delicious Christmas dinner and festive drinks

Christmas is the perfect time to indulge and enjoy wonderful food, and Aberdeen has an abundance of restaurants and cuisines to pick from! There is something for every budget and dietary condition, ranging from fine-dining experiences to more traditional pub grub.

There are lots of independent restaurants in Aberdeen offering a Christmas-themed menu, as well as a variety of bars and late-night locations serving anything from cocktails to cask beer, with live music performances in many venues.

The ‘Christmas at the Castle’ event at Crathes Castle, Banchory photo © Copyright Christmas at the Castle

8. Enjoy a fantastic evening at ‘Christmas at the Castle’

For the third year in a row, the excitement of Christmas is coming to the beautiful Crathes Castle near Banchory, Aberdeenshire. From the 14th to the 24th December (on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), Crathes Castle will be adored with festive lights and decorations, creating an enchanting atmosphere for all visitors.

Guests can look forward to a spectacular illuminated trail around the grounds and gardens alongside magical characters and performers, and enjoy visiting Santa’s Grotto, fairground rides, market stalls and delicious street food. This event offers the perfect opportunity for friends and family to come together and create special memories amidst the beauty of the castle and its surroundings.

To find out more, please visit: https://christmasatthecastle.scot/

Amy LeithBy Amy Leith
A marketing student born and raised in Aberdeen with an admiration of the Scottish isles, desire to travel and see the world, a superior taste in music, enjoys cooking and socialising with family and friends.

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Header image: The Christmas lights on Union Street photo © Copyright Amy Leith