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Winter wonders

Winter wonders

Winter wonders

Feel the magic of the winter season by taking in starry sights, warming drinks and joyful concerts.

Sparkling sights in the city

Festive white lighting of trees and snowflakes are all lit up against the backdrop of the Victorian city chambers building and evening sky.

There is something special about wandering around the city centre on winter evenings taking in the twinkling festive lights. There’s nowhere better to start than in George Square, where generations have enjoyed the traditional festive decorations over the years, including the city's nativity scene. For a special experience, visit on November 30 for the traditional blessing of the crib and carol singing - see glasgowlovechristmas.org.uk for details.

A cascade of fairy lights on the side of the House of Frasers buildings on Buchanan Street.

Next to George Square are the shopping hubs, many of which have their own spectacular Christmas lights and trees. Buchanan Street is beautiful to walk down with the sparkling trees. A must-see is House of Frasers, which is beautifully decked out in with cascading lighting on the outside of the building and inside in the atrium.

A larger than life light up reindeer stands in front of a canopy of lights at the entrance to the St. Enoch Centre
The atrium of Princes Square is lit up with Christmas lights. A tree is the centrepiece with lights also hanging from the glass domed ceiling.

Opposite House of Frasers is Princes Square, which is always beautifully decorated for the season, with a huge tree (42 ft) in the atrium. The St. Enoch Centre has massive reindeers all lit up and standing tall, both outside and inside the centre. Visit st-enoch.com and princessquare.co.uk to decide which shops to visit for picking up pressies.

Winter wonderlands

A ferris wheel lit up against the evening sky is slightly blurred. While a stone column surrounded with fairy lights in the foreground is in focus.

St Enoch Square and George Square are both the settings for winter wonderlands this season. Fun for all the family will include an ice rink, observation wheel, carousels, street food hubs, marshmallow toasting station and more.

The Christmas Fair at St Enoch Square (November 18 - January 3) will have activities for those seeking adventure, including The Blizzard (a ride capable of reaching speeds of 70mph), an ice climbing wall, as well as Santa’s runaway train and bungee trampolines for younger kids.

A child dressed in red and white wintery clothing skate on an ice rink in front of a large Christmas tree.

The Christmas Fair at George Square (December 1 - January 8), will be home to an ice rink, 33-metre-high observation wheel, as well as the return of the popular Venetian flying chairs and Victorian carousel.

Visit glasgowloveschristmas.org for more info on these fairs, as well as other civic winter events, including the annual Santa Dash and Style Mile Carnival.

A skaker wearing a scarf smiles. A disco ball shines lights on the glass roof and ice rink.

There are not 1 but 2 ice rinks in the city this year. Elfingrove at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the UK’s biggest ice rink, offering skating under the stars, as well as a snow wheel and apres skate bar. Visit itison.com to book.

Sounds of the season

Group of musicians around a table beside a fire playing their instruments. Instruments include a keyboard, guitar, accordion and fiddles.

What could be nicer on a cold winter's day than cosying up in bar with friends, while enjoying music from local musicians. Many city bars run free live music sessions, from traditional celtic music at The Ben Nevis Bar to jazz at The Howling Wolf. Visit our bars with free live music page for more ideas.

There are so many music events and shows to choose from this season. From carol singing to classic movies accompanied by live music, here are just some of the sounds of the season.

  • A magical event for all ages will be Christmas carols in the fairy-lit cloisters (December 13).
  • Singers Eddi Reader and Karen Matheson will join Phil Cunningham at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH) for his annual Christmas Songbook event (December 16).
  • For classical highs, Aled Jones and Russell Watson will bring their stunning voices together to sing both old and new festive tunes (GRCH, December 7).
  • One for all the family is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's Christmas at the Movies (GRCH, December 18).
  • The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will perform alongside a screening of festive favourite The Snowman (GRCH, December 17).
  • Enjoy a piano recital (and sign-along) at House for an Art Lover followed by afternoon tea and prosecco (December 4).
  • Join mezzo-soprano Fiona Joice for a festive-themed recital, followed by coffee and mince-pies at House for an Art Lover (December 18).
  • Young Lives vs Cancer Christmas Charity Concert will see Glasgow Chamber Orchestra joined by special guests for festive songs and carols (GRCH, December 9).
  • Love Actually film screening accompanied by a live orchestra (GRCH, December 4).
  • Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol with live score (SEC Armadillo, November 28).

Visit gla.ac.uk for University of Glasgow event details, visit sec.co.uk for SEC Campus events, visit glasgowconcerthalls.com to make GRCH bookings and visit houseforanartlover.co.uk to view their seasonal events.

6 musicians are playing their instruments on stage against a backdrop of standing lamps and blue lighting. The curtain at the back of the stage says Celtic Connections.

Credit: Gaelle Beri

And the best is still to come once we head into the New Year! The biggest winter festival in Europe, Celtic Connections brightens up the city each January. Check out the line of amazing acts announced so far at celticconnections.com.

Warming winter drinks

Take a break and stop in somewhere for a winter warming drink or 2. Whether coffee, hot chocolate, mulled wine or cocktails is your drink of choice - there are plenty of options in the city.

For a truly indulgent hot chocolate, visit Bare Bones in the Trongate. The award-winning Glaswegian chocolate company serves delicious hot chocolates, which can be enjoyed while picking up gifts for loved ones. Check out bareboneschocolate.co.uk for details.

A mug topped with cream and orange peel sits on top of a book. A hand is seen with a match setting the top of the drink alight.

For something a little stronger, lots of the city centre's coolest bars have changed their menus to include seasonal cocktails. For Christmas cheer and winter warmers, try Manhatten-inspired 63rd and 1st, modern Scottish Glaschu, classy The Anchor Line and cosy gastro-pub The Duke's Umbrella. Check out our cocktail bars page for ideas on where to go.

If looking for less glam and more traditional, then browse our cosy pubs page for ideas. From Waxy O'Connors to Rab Ha's to Oran Mor, there are many city bars that have roaring fireplaces, candles and armchairs to set the perfect scene for a winter's evening.

An outdoor glass booth with cushions sits surrounded by Christmas trees and fairylights.

For a magical Scandi-inspired winter experience, head to Cranside Kitchen's Winter Village. Open from November 24 - Hogmanay, there will be independent street food vendors, drinks and entertainment, with festive decor. You can even hire out a Swedish forest-style chalet or a private Kopparberg ski gondola for groups of 6. Visit cransidekitchen.co.uk for details.

Article last updated: December 2022

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