Scotland's Best B&Bs
The end of the year can be a most magical time with spectacular autumn colours across the forests and hills, the first sprinkling of snow on the mountain tops and the sound of a good crunchy frost underfoot.Many people prefer to visit at this time of year as the landscape is transformed.It is an especially popular time for photographers and wildlife watchers as well as skiers waiting for the first snow at Aviemore and Glencoe. Christmas Markets and Craft Fairs pop up giving you the opportunity to purchase Scottish gifts and produce for that unique Christmas present.
Many of our recommended B&Bs are open all year and are ready to welcome you with roaring fires, home baking and of course, drying rooms for outdoor gear. Some are open over the Christmas and New Year holidays and ALL will be happy to welcome you to their homes!
Here are some popular winter events. See our separate page which lists Christmas markets in Scotland.
The Enchanted Forest
5 October - 5 November 2023, Pitlochry, Perthshire
Scotland’s premier light and sound event uses the autumnal splendour of Faskally Wood as a natural backdrop to a glittering and original experience that is simply spectacular. Each year has a different theme and for 2023 this will be 'From the Deep'.
Nearby B&Bs - Northlands Bed and Breakfast in Pitlochry, Brae House by Aberfeldy, Craigellie House near Blairgowrie
Kirkcudbright's Festival of Light
5 - 7 October 2023
Three days of performances, art installations & illuminated experiences in Dumfries & Galloway including the Lantern Parade.
27 October – 19 November 2023, Gosford House, East Lothian New venue for 2023 with a 1.5 km illuminated woodland trail. Gosford House was in the TV series Outlander.
tbc 31 October 2023, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
Celebrate the Celtic New Year on Halloween with this unique procession of fire-dancing, acrobatics, drumming and immersive performances organised by the Beltane Fire Society.
tbc November 2023
This year Glasgow Botanic Gardens are transformed into 'The Land That Time Forgot' in a spectacular sound and light show which has proved incredibly popular.
end November to early January tbc
Spectacular winter skating for families at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow.
tbc November 2023, Brodie Castle
The National Trust for Scotland illuminates the grounds around Brodie Castle near Forres in Moray on the north east coast of Scotland. Usually held on Wednesdays to Saturdays in November.
Oban Winter Festival
17-26 November 2023
From the opening parade on 17 November to the reindeer parade on 25 November, there's lots of actitivies including illuminations at Glencruitten Woods, plus food & craft markets and the Haggis & Whisky Festival at Oban Distillery.
Aberdeen Christmas Village
mid November - 31 December 2023
Food & drink stalls, gifts and fun fair in historic Aberdeen city centre.
Dundee Christmas Market WinterFest
15 November - 1 January 2023
New event in Slessor Gardens in Dundee with a vintage funfair, ice rink, Bavarian tavern, market stalls and much more.
Christmas at the Botanics
16 November - 30 December 2023, Edinburgh
This festive illuminated trail showcases the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh after dark in spectacular fashion.
Castle of Light
24 November 2023 - 3 January 2024, Edinburgh Castle
On certain dates from the end of November, the biggest light experience Edinburgh has ever hosted uses state of the art projections to create a truly wonderful, immersive and unique lighting experience within the castle’s iconic walls.
Castle of Light - Edinburgh Castle © Historic Scotland
Edinburgh Christmas Markets
24 November 2023 - 3 January 2024
The famous markets return to Edinburgh this year with stalls, fairground rides and Santa's grotto in Princes Street Gardens, plus more stalls and an ice rink in George Street.
Beecraigs Festive Forest
1 - 23 December 2023, near Linlithgow
Laser shows and stunning lighting effects around the country park make this a truly atmospheric experience, along with the festive food fayre and Santa's grotto.
2 December 2023
Christmas Lights switch on with children's activities, market stalls and more!
Christmas Lunch at Edinburgh Castle
8-9 and 15-16 December 2023
Enjoy a festive 3-course meal in the beautiful surroundings of the Queen Anne Room at Edinburgh Castle. Pre booking is required.
Christmas at Crathes
8 - 24 December 2023, Aberdeenshire
Crathes Castle hosts their exciting Illuminated Walled Garden & Woodland Trail, food market, gift market, Santa's grotto, children's activities and more.
Rough Castle's Christmas Experience
16 – 23 December 2023
Christmas Woodland Experience at the iconic Falkirk Wheel. Funfair attractions, playground, Santa's grotto, Polar Express tractor ride, 1.4km woodland trail and more.
30 December 2023 - 1 January 2024
Street Party, live music and fireworks. Celebrate New Year in style once again in Edinburgh.
Red Hot Higland Fling
31 December 2023
Annual outdoor music concert with fireworks to celebrate the New Year in the Highland capital. Tickets required.
31 December 2023, Comrie, Perthshire
At this annual festival, the villagers of Comrie set alight the birch tree pole torches to fend off evil spirits When the clock strikes midnight.
Stonehaven Fireballs Ceremony
31 December 2023, Stonehaven
This unique celebration of the New Year has been held for over 100 years in this historic Aberdeenshire town.
Burning of the Clavie
11 January 2024 Burghead, Moray
Welcome in the "Auld" New Year as old traditions are rekindled at this ancient fire festival in Burghead. This is the original Hogmanay before the calendar changed in 1660. A spectacular event celebrated every year.
tbc February 2024
Scotland's Festival of Light returns for 2023 in the newly opened Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen.
While Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party is usually a sell out, did you know that Inverness hosts an annual free party on New Year's Eve called the Red Hot Highland Fling? Among the more unusual celebrations at the turn of the year, the Biggar Bonfire is South Lanarkshire's own New Year celebration, while the Stonehaven Fireballs Ceremony is an ancient tradition in Aberdeenshire, and the Comrie Flambeaux is a unique torchlit procession in Perthshire.
As spectacular as these light installations can be, nothing can rival the famous Northern Lights (also called the Aurora Borealis). The darker skies of autumn and winter (October - March) give the best viewing conditions for these colourful merry dancers. The frequency of sightings can depend on sunspot activity which is governed by an 11-year solar cycle. Generally the best chances to see them are in places with low light pollution such as the coastline around the Highlands and Islands. The Galloway Forest in Dumfries & Galloway was Scotland's first Dark Sky Park. The Tomintoul and Glenlivet area of the Cairngorms is the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world (and the darkest in the UK). Moffat (in Dumfries & Galloway) is a Dark Sky Town thanks to special street lighting. On our web site you can read about Stargazing in Galloway.