Christmas has arrived at the Royal Botanic Garden

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Visitors to the gardens can watch festive light projections on the Glasshouse.

 

It may only be the first week of December, but the festivities in Edinburgh are well and truly underway and the Royal Botanic Garden has a brand new Christmas trail for visitors to enjoy.

Until the 29th of December, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is running a winter-themed trail with decorations, music and over a million lights called “Christmas at the Botanics”. This is the second year the Royal Botanic Garden has put on the event and there are similar trails all across the UK.

Emma Henderson from Culture Creative , the creative management company behind “Christmas at the Botanics”, mentioned some of the other trails around the country.

“Christmas at the Botanics is one of seven lit trails themed around Christmas which include Christmas at Kew, Christmas at Bleinheim Palace, Christmas at Dunham Massey, Christmas at Bedgebury, Christmas at Beaulieu and Christmas at London Zoo.”

“The first trail was at Kew Gardens six years ago and its success has led to other trails being added each year.”

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Some of the one million lights on display at “Christmas at the Botanics”.

This year, the mile-long trail has several new additions, including contributions from both UK-based artists and artists from around the world.

“This year’s trail includes artworks by international and UK artists, live theatre and light projections onto the world-famous Glasshouse and Inverleith House,” said Emma.

“French lighting designers Tilt have two installations: “Lily of the Valley” and “Carbonium”. Mandylights from Australia, whose work has been shown previously at Vivid Festival in Sydney, has brought us ‘The Cathedral of Light.'”

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The Cathedral of Light is one of the new attractions at the gardens this year.

The Cathedral of Light, a 70m-long tunnel with over 100,000 lights, provides quite a spectacle at the halfway point of the trail. Visitors should take their time to enjoy the stunning lights and accompanying Christmas carols: this is one of the prime picture taking areas.

There are also a number of new features this year for children to enjoy on their way around the gardens. Emma Henderson spoke about some of the options available for families to enjoy together.

“This year’s Santa Panto is themed around the gifts that conifer trees give us year-round. It’s presented by Connie Fir and Connor Fir, two Christmas elves who are Santa’s helpers. Our conifer trail is also new this year, which highlights six key specimens in the garden for adults and children to find.”

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Festive decorations have been placed at different points around the garden.

Although the trail is outdoors and some may be sceptical to brave the Scottish weather on winter evenings, there are plenty of opportunities to buy hot food and drinks around the garden.

“Christmas at the Botanics is a family event created for everyone to enjoy. There are over a million twinkling lights, creamy hot chocolate, mulled wine and marshmallows, Christmas music, crackling fires and of course, Santa Clause. So wrap up warm and come enjoy the wonderful Christmas atmosphere and fun.”

You can find out more about “Christmas at the Botanics” and how to purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Christmas Markets sales soar

Edinburgh Christmas Markets have seen an increase in ticket sales this year with over 700,000 tickets sold for events during the festive period.

It was the fifth year that the Christmas festival was organised by the Underbelly Promoters.

Christmas sales were higher in the 2017 season than the year before

According to Visit Scotland, the number of British residents visiting Edinburgh in the month of December was 257,000.

New attractions such as the frozen museum and 80ft drop tower ride, both situated in George Street, have attracted more visitors. Organisers this year gained an increase in foot-fall numbers at 25%.

Underbelly Promoters have decided to extent the winter festivities until Burns Night on the 25th of January, which will introduce brand new exhibitions to the public, throughout the City.

Black Friday deals not all they seem, says consumer group Which?

Bargain hunters hoping to find a deal this Friday have been advised to be wary as a new report shows some prices are no different to normal.

The advice from Which? said 60% of last year’s Black Friday deals were cheaper, or the same, at other times in the year.

Photograph: Mairi Mulhern

For almost half of the price cuts analysed in the report, the consumer group found the price was less in the December following Black Friday last year.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Our research shows that although Black Friday can offer some great discounts, not all offers are as good as they seem.

“It’s easy to get swept along by hype and excitement on the day, so we recommend doing some preparation and research to help make sure you really are getting a good deal when shopping in the sales.”

The group’s advice is based on research into 35 popular tech products sold by the world’s largest retailers including Amazon, Currys PC World and Argos. The study was done over a year, starting 6 months prior to Black Friday 2016.

Consumers are predicted to spend £2.6bn this Friday on what has become one of the biggest days in the retail calendar in the last few years.

Currys PC World said it featured 4000 reduced products on Black Friday 2016 “with many items being their lowest ever price at that point in time”.

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Photograph: Mairi Mulhern

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We offer many thousands of incredible deals around Black Friday representing millions of pounds of savings for our customers across a vast selection of products.”

As well as this an Argos spokesperson said: “Black Friday is a fantastic event which allows customers to choose from thousands of products which offer great value. This does not exclude these products from other sales or promotional activity at other times of the year.”


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The lights of Edinburgh’s Christmas Market returns

The most wonderful time of the year is finally here! A winter wonderland has arrived in Edinburgh and everybody is invited to come along.

Edinburgh’s annual Christmas market re-opened last week and has multiple festive treats lined up for its visitors, including a traditional European market and even Christmas cabaret shows.

The attractions are split across two city centre locations: East Princes Street Gardens, where visitors will have stunning views of the castle; and George Street, which will be illuminated by sensational Christmas lights.

Both markets are set to host spectacular stalls where shoppers can stock up on unique trinkets and crafts whilst enjoying a warming cup of gluhwein.

The markets are inviting family members of all ages with returning favourites, including the beautiful elliptical ice rink on St Andrew’s Square, the Big Wheel, the Star Flyer, and the Santa Train for younger visitors.

This year, the market will for the first time be hosting a fascinating ice museum filled with life-sized sculptures on show for all visitors.

The Edinburgh Christmas market is originally inspired by Germany’s tradition of hosting street markets throughout the country during the four weeks of advent. This festive celebration is said to have emerged in the late middle ages within German-speaking parts of Europe.

In the UK, we didn’t catch on to the festive fun until 1982 when the city of Lincoln established the first British Christmas market. It wasn’t until 1997 when Edinburgh joined in  the festivities with its first ever Christmas market.

 

 

Since then, the Edinburgh Christmas market has been attracting millions of visitors every year and has even been a contender for UK’s best Christmas market.

Charlie Wood of Edinburgh’s Christmas are inviting all from around the world to take part in the capital’s Christmas fun, saying: “The economic impact of Edinburgh’s Christmas on the city is growing every year and with the positive effect it has socially on the residents of Edinburgh, we are proud to be able to bring world class winter entertainment to the Scottish capital yet again.”


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Top 5 ways to add Hygge to your life this Winter

As the nights lengthen and colder weather sneaks in around us, it’s not unusual to feel a little down, grey and flat. However, this winter it is time we turn to our Danish neighbours for some advice on how to embrace their concept of Hygge. Pronounced (hoo-guh), it incorporates embracing the small things and creating a safe space to relax.

 

The Scandinavian lifestyle is one that we could all do with embracing, with Denmark being ranked as the happiest nation in 2016. Coming 1st out of 156 countries, residents said it was because they had ‘no worries’, so we took some tips on how this chilled out nation de-stresses.

 

1. Candles Candles Candles

Picking the right candle is essential for creating the right mood. Source: Google

 

It is impossible to have Hygge without candles. If you want to create instant intimacy and ambience, a few candles and tea lights scattered about gives a more chilled and subtle lighting, instantly making you take a deep breath and chill out. Picking the right scent is also important. Everyone is particular with what kind of candle they love to light – but the more mellow and soft, the more relaxed the scent swirling around the room. For example, here are a few calming winter candles that will instantly set the mood. 

 

2. Fairy light up your life

A cosy setting is needed for Hygge. Source: Google

 

If candles are a fire hazard for you, or just too much effort, get yourself to a discount store or bargain shop and stock up on these twinkling little gems. Whether its waterfall lights draped behind your bed or long strands pinned around the walls in your lounge, it instantly draws the room in and takes away the need to pop on bigger, harsher lights. Hygge is all about creating warmth  and the effect fairy lights can give is exactly that.

 

3. Big Chunky wools and knits

Winter woolies are perfect for a cosy night in. Source: Google

Danish and Scandinavian style is renowned for its simplicity and beauty. Furnishings have a minimalist and neutral tone to them, with muted colours and elegance. There is no need to go over the top, and a few classic attributes instantly can transform your room into a relaxed Hygge haven. For example, chunky wools and knits like these cushions and blankets will make a space feel extra cosy without it looking brash or bold.

 

4. Get some friends round

An important part of Hygge is spending time with your loved ones. Source: Google

One of the most common descriptions of Hygge is ‘building a sanctuary and community’. So once you have built your little sanctuary and its glowing with all those candles you have lit, why not invite a few friends round to enjoy it with you? Hygge is also about embracing the small moments and making the most of it, so there is no need for fancy plans. Ideas as small as:

-A couple of beers and some card games

-A hot drink and a gossip

-A glass of wine and a film

-Some cosy socks and a nap

 

5. Just relax

Take time to yourself and appreciate your surroundings. Source: Google

 

To create your own well being, you need to be relaxed. So once you have made your space somewhere to enjoy, it is important to learn how to leave all the stresses of winter at the door, take a deep breath and enjoy what you have around you. If you struggle to switch off, why not try listening to relaxing music or a podcast, getting lost in a book, or treating yourself to a pamper evening.

 

And there you have it, a few simple tips that can change your attitude towards stress and appreciate what you have around you. So good luck, or ‘held og lykke’ as the Danes would say, and let a little Hygge in your life this winter.

 

Waterstones Sauchiehall Street celebrates 20th anniversary

Christmas isn’t the only thing employees at Waterstones Sauchiehall Street are celebrating.

 

Scotland’s largest book store has turned 20 and what better way to commemorate this milestone than a week long series of events this November?

 

Frankie Burr, who works at Waterstones Sauchiehall Street, helped organise the events. She excitedly tells of why they decided to celebrate now.

 

“We wanted to bring together a programme of events to help celebrate and now, in the run up to Christmas, it seemed like the perfect time.”

 

What can we expect to see during the week? Frankie explains the importance of accommodating to their customers’ range of interests, from sci-fi books all the way to academic.

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Fans eagerly waiting for their signed copy of Viz

 

Frankie explains: “It’s such a massively wide range that we wanted to try and replicate that in the events we’re celebrating of the 20 years. The only way to get anywhere near that is to try and hold a week of events. We hold events here all the time but we usually try to spread them out a bit more.

 

Already, the store has showcased talks by author, Charlotte Peacock, on Friday, who wrote the first ever biography of Nan Shepherd published this Autumn. A Q&A with Rick Stein (author of Road to Mexico) was held on Saturday, and on Sunday there were a few family events featuring popular character The Gruffalo.

 

“Today we’ve got the guy from Viz comic. Viz is the most irreverent comic on the market. If you haven’t encountered Viz, you need to. It’s so funny and so rude. So close to the bone. So perfect for people you don’t know what to get for for Christmas.”

 

Along with the events, five floors have been refurbished and the store now also features a bar – which was opened by Rick Stein.

 

“Who doesn’t like the idea of a pint and a book at the same time?” Frankie jokes. “It works for me!”

 

 

If you fancy some wine and light reading, why not spend head down to Waterstones to listen to lectures from authors and publishers and help celebrate the store’s birthday?

 

Don’t forget to check out Waterstones Sauchiehall Street’s Facebook and Twitter for more information on all the events to come.

Love a good Christmas market?

It seems like Christmas 2016 was only yesterday. Now it is only 6 weeks until Santa scurries down our chimneys and through our doors once again.

 

If Starbucks’ festive cups, or John Lewis’ eagerly-anticipated advert didn’t herald the merry season for you, then perhaps Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is what you have been waiting for. It is due to arrive in its usual spot, East Princes Street Gardens, on the 18th of November.

 

The nearby ice rinks and funfairs will be re-erected, and the city’s theatres will be jam-packed with audiences of all ages, in traditional Winter Wonderland fashion. This year the joyous-spirit will be spread across the New Town, with a second market making its debut on George Street on the 17th of the same month. So, after you’ve taken your ‘standard’ Dome selfie outside the restaurant’s gorgeous light displays you can take a wander through the array of stalls which continue to sell everything from arts & crafts to tasty bites.

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Crowds at the Edinburgh Christmas market. Source: Google

The expansion merits the capital’s success in providing a globally celebrated event along the years. And nearby Glasgow is reaping the same rewards. Glaswegian’s reveal their The St. Enoch Market this coming Thursday and, like Edinburgh, will open an additional market in the following week on George Square – alongside an ice rink and amusements.

 

The Edinburgh and Glasgow markets prove us Scots know a thing or two about drawing in traders and food vendors from all over the world. But, who is our main competitor

 

Zagreb, Croatia has twice been hailed as the best host of any European Christmas market and its success is also mirrored in the form of an expansion.

 

The city will switch on their seasonal lights on the 26th of November, but their main proceedings will begin on the 2nd of December.

zagreb market

Zagreb’s Christmas market. Source: Google

So, what makes the Croatian Capital’s Christmas event so wonderful? Its main appeal is their ability to merge a traditional festive feel with a modern twist. If you head into Kaptol, you will see a live nativity play takes place, while in Tomislavac, an ice rink and amusements will be in full swing. It’s not unusual for spectators to follow a conventional Christmas Carrol Choir with an edgy DJ set.

 

While the whole city is draped in dazzling fairy lights, the main square -Trg bana Josipa Jelačića- sets an iconic Christmas scene. The fountain at the heart of the open space is encircled by a large wreath, and an artificial forest covered in snow enforces a majestic touch. The main market is on Bogviecs Street, where lovely wooden cabins host traders selling everything from sweet almonds, to beautiful handcrafted souvenirs. Be sure to try the traditional Croatian pasty desert, fruitile – and you shouldn’t have to look too far for some mulled wine to wash it down, either.

 

If you do venture abroad this festive period, Croatia can be a world-class choice. Of course, Christmas is about who you spend it with, rather than where.

Top five Christmas cocktails

With the arrival of Edinburgh’s annual Christmas market, and the magical lights that shine through the city centre, there is no denying that the capital is feeling very festive this winter season. Christmas food and cocktail menus are now on the tables of Edinburgh’s finest eateries and cocktail bars and if you fancy getting wined and dined in Christmas delights, you are not short of a option.

Here is EN4 News’s exclusive top five Christmas cocktails that will get you in the spirit for the festive season.

Apple Crumble Martini, The Dome

One of the cities iconic Christmas sites where golden lights run down its Corinthian pillars and its marble bar surrounds a beautifully decorated ten-foot Christmas tree. The bar is situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town on George Street; its lights make it hard to miss. The apple crumble martini is our Christmas favourite; Dewars Scotch whiskey, sugar syrup and butterscotch liquor, served in a quaint coup glass. Check out their official website.

Sage Against the Machine, The Blackbird

Located on Leven Street near the Edinburgh Links, this funky cocktail bar has just released its Christmas cocktail list. Including all things nice; cinnamon, nutmeg, root ginger and cold brew mulled wine; this is Edinburgh’s ultimate Christmas cocktail menu. From Chai Milk Punch to the Blackbird’s very own Christmas Old Fashion, the list shows imagination and taste. Our favorite is the Sage Against the Machine which pervades sage, roast chestnut, sugar and egg white. Check out their official website.

Chocolate Treacle, Sgyn Bar

For all you chocolate lovers, who could say no to this divine cocktail on Sgyn bars five-pound Christmas drinks menu. Brugal Anejo rum, chocolate bitters & apple stirred down with maple syrup; the cocktail will leave you in a heavenly state of bliss. Charlotte Lane in the West End is home to this hip bar, which hosts a resident DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. Check out their official website.

Taihoko Cocktail, The Voyage of Buck

This newly established bar is located on Williams’s Street in the West End. The quirky drinks menu tells the tail of a man named Buck and his adventures around the world. It incorporates the inspiring flavours he has tasted in Paris and Asia, to create an innovative cocktail menu. Our favourite was the unique Taihoko Cocktail which combines the festive flavours of roast cashew, orange bitters and cherry vermouth. Check out their official website.

Trambell Sour, Juniper

Situated on Princes Street with stunning panoramic vistas across the city skyline, Juniper is definitely worth a visit for a Christmas beverage. The cocktail will be made on it’s striking copper bar and can be enjoyed in the warmth of a armchair. Our Christmas favourite was the Trambell Sour infusing the sugar sweet flavour of agave with vanilla and maple smoke. Check out their official website.

Have we missed your favourite Christmas cocktail? Tweet us @EN4News2016

Header photo courtesy of The Blackbird

Top 5 Scottish foods for the coming winter

1. Haggis
Possibly the most renowned Scottish food, Haggis is a savoury pudding, a love or hate food that is best made in the heart of Scotland and will leave you satisfied.
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2. Scottish tablet
This delicious sweet treat melts in the mouth and is the perfect end to any evening.
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3. Scottish shortbread
While shortbread can be bought anywhere, Scottish shortbread has a buttery texture, a light and sweat taste and is perfect next to a warm drink on these peaceful September evenings.
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4. Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The perfect drink to stock your cupboards with before Christmas, Single Malt Scotch Whisky will warm you down to the toes.
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5. Walker Black label, blended Scotch Whisky
This whisky is a favorite around the world, and is best enjoyed in it’s Scottish home looking out across the rolling  hillside as the trees turn to a burning orange.
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Top five events to put in your diary this Christmas

Photo courtesy of fergusfleming/Flickr

Photo courtesy of fergusfleming/Flickr

Although Christmas is still 36 days away the festive spirit is already descending on the city. With a plethora of events to choose in the capital from you’ll have a merry time indeed. Here are our top five you should be sure not to miss:

1. European Christmas Market

Ranked 5th on the Telegraph’s list of best British Christmas Markets this year, Edinburgh’s European Christmas Market is a must. Enjoy a smoky bratwurst and some fragrant mulled wine or choose from a range of other gastronomic delights from across Europe, delivered to the heart of the capital. The Christmas Market will stretch from the Mound, along East Princes Street Gardens Terrace and around the Scott Monument is packed full of unique gift ideas and traditional European crafts. This romantic festive market runs from November 20th until  January 4th.

2. Light Night

Join over a thousand performers on George Street this Sunday (20th November) to watch the turning on of Edinburgh’s Christmas lights by Scotland’s own superstar, Susan Boyle. This year the themes of light and performance is set to create a sparkling festive-extravaganza. Hosted by Forth Radio’s Arlene Stuart, the free event will start at 1.30PM before an illuminating firework show at 4.30PM.

3. Street of Light

Experience the city’s most famous street, staged under a vibrant canopy of light. Over 60,000 lights will be installed nearly 20 metres high across the Royal Mile. The art installation will see arches running up the street with lights synchronised to music from a range of local choirs. This spectacular event will brighten up Edinburgh’s Old Town from 30th November to 24th December. Reserve your free ticket here to ensure entry to the daily event.

4. Get your skates on

Whether you’re a pro skater or you’re more likely to be clinging on to the edges, ice skating in the city centre is an ultimate Christmas experience. Edinburgh is hosting two outdoor ice rinks with one in Princes Street Garden and the other at St Andrews Square. This activity is open to all ages and runs on 45 minute sessions. Enjoy skating to some chart topping tunes among Christmas classics in either of the city’s winter wonderlands.

5. Big Wheel

This year an annual attraction at Edinburgh’s Christmas, The Big Wheel, gets even bigger. Prince’s Square will host the biggest incarnation of the ride to grace the city; which is set to stand at a whopping 44 metres. This is a fun and festive way to view the capital from above and it also comes with an inbuilt audio tour of Edinburgh as well as other festive events. With room for six people in each gondola, this should be a breath taking start to your Christmas celebrations. If you live in Edinburgh with an EH postcode, you will even receive a 20% discount on your ticket.

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