Get into the Christmas Spirit in South Scotland

by Scotland Starts Here, 3rd December 2021
Town Hall | Annan
Get into the Christmas Spirit in South Scotland

Make the most of the season and get into the Christmas Spirit in the South of Scotland. Especially now, with the days getting shorter and folks wanting to stay close to home, it’s the perfect time to spread festive cheer. And there’s lots to discover locally! Across the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, plenty of adventures await that will sweeten the wait until Christmas. Read on for a small selection. 

Please note: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety are of paramount importance. Stay safe and adhere to current government guidance.  If you are going for walks or exercise, always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Closures and access restrictions may apply in line with government guidance. Always check with places directly for visiting guidelines and prebook where possible.

Keep an eye out for your nearest town’s Christmas light switch on – or enjoy the atmosphere of those that already have.

Christmas Lights

The season may still be quieter in 2021 than before but it is by no means less cheery, with town centres across the South of Scotland illuminated. So why not head out on an evening walk in your nearest town! We have collated a small selection of this year’s glittering displays.

In Annan, the Town Hall once again lights the way with its dazzling display. And the rest of the town’s High Street is no different, with shops and houses decorated with festive displays. Lights on from this Saturday. You can also head to Moffat, where you will find sparkling lights, or to Langholm, where you’ll find festive decorations and lanterns to celebrate the season. And here too a celebration with market, music and a festive turn on of the lights. Kirkcudbright is also hosting a celebration for its light switch on with a market and visit from Santa.

In the Scottish Borders town of Selkirk, this Saturday sees a special Christmas market and the annual turn on of the Christmas lights to illuminate the historic town centre, perfect for a stroll around the local shops. And it’s similarly festive in Kelso, where a grand Christmas tree overlooks the market square, and colourful lights and baubles adorn shop facades as well as windows. Next weekend there is a Christmas market around the Square and the tree. Keep your eyes open in Kelso: You might spot one of 24 winning tickets placed around the town to nab a prize from local businesses! Southern Scotland’s coast is equally festive, with Eyemouth’s streets and squares dressed with twinkling lights. Wherever you find yourself this December, you’ll be certain to get into the festive spirit. 

Christmas market at Langholm
Head to Langholm for their Christmas market this weekend – or there is one in Selkirk next Saturday.

Christmas Shopping 

Now more than ever, it is essential to show support to our local businesses, makers and creators. So, whether you’re looking for something special for your nearest and dearest or the last few stocking fillers, check out what’s on offer in the South of Scotland.

If you’re after quality gifts from internationally renowned brands, make sure to pay a visit to Hawick. In addition to all the town’s five textile mills have to offer there is also the Borders Distillery offering online shoppers two free tour tickets for orders received before the 16th December. And there is a luxurious Christmas Competition Hamper to be won, so be sure to submit your entry. Keep your eyes peeled on some of the world’s most prestigious cashmere and Tweed producers for offers on their social media channels and in-store. 

Showing love for local businesses is also the message in Galashiels. Here, businesses have dressed up their shop windows to create a festive atmosphere around town. Shoppers will find lots of gift ideas and festive inspiration. 

Head to Drumlanrig Castle & Estate to find homemade wreaths and local produce at a couple of special open evenings at the Stableyard Studio shops.

At the Steam Packet Inn in the Isle of Whithorn, the new culinary team is offering up gift voucher for afternoon teas or evening meals as a lovely treat for someone special.

For wannabe farmers, how about gifting a tour at Kitchen Coos & Ewes – their Highland Cows and cream teas would make a wonderful experience between Christmas and New Year.

And if you are shopping at award-winning Crafty Distillery they are offering the chance to win a hamper to see the New Year in with style.

Experience Christmas past at Abbotsford | Melrose

Festive Days Out

Enchanting decorations, gardens glittering in the frosty temperatures and coffee breaks with mesmerizing views. The weeks before Christmas are the perfect opportunity for a family day out in the South of Scotland, with a special offer this winter giving you a discounted entry – read more in our Great Days Out blog.

At Moat Brae, they are chanelling ghosts like Ebenezer himself. Join them for a celebration of stories of Victorian ghosts from writers long past. Suitable for those ages 12 and up.

At the historic home of novelist Sir Walter Scott, visitors can step back in time to the winter of 1823 just after the hosue and gardens were completed. The interiors of Abbotsford are dressed up for Christmas, while a special audio tour brings the season to life. And can the children spot all the Christmas characters around the house for a prize at the end of the tour? It promises to be an exciting day out for every member of the family.

Christmas splendour has also taken over Paxton House. Not rain, nor snow, nor Storm Arwen can stop Christmas from coming to Paxton House. A spectacular effort has been made to ensure the festivities proceed with more than 50 stall holders over this coming weekend and two marvellously decorated trees.

For more seasonal days out, check out our Events

Abbey Cottage Tearoom | New Abbey

Seasonal Treats

Christmas and food go together perfectly, there’s no doubt about it! So, why not head out to one of the amazing restaurants, cafés and artisans in the South of Scotland to enjoy their festive specials. And if visiting your favourite locales isn’t on the table, many of them offer delivery and takeaway services to bring the Christmas magic to you. 

The Christmas menu at the Allanton Inn features popular classics such as roast turkey as well as owner Katrina Reynold’s special homemade Christmas Pudding. As always, the award-winning inn brings a strong focus on local provenance to every dish on the menu. 

A range of sweet treats is available to enjoy and to order at Cocoa Black Chocolate Boutique in the heart of Peebles. Christmassy treats on offer include delicious Yule logs and chocolate snowmen, as well as themed patisserie. 

Those with a sweet tooth will also be delighted by Born in Scotland’s winter menu which features a Sticky Toffee Pudding. So head to their Jedburgh café to indulge a trio of Salmon and perhaps a fillet of seabass if the turkey is getting too much. Add a warming hot chocolate to your meal and you will be all set for one of our walks!

For Christmas-themed Afternoon Tea in a picturesque location, head to the Abbey Cottage Tearoom. Set right across from atmospheric Sweetheart Abbey, the tearoom has put together a delectable spread of homemade shortbread, mince pies and seasonal sandwiches. 

Snowy morning at Glenwhan Gardens, Glenwhan Gardens
Head out on a winter walk – Glenwhan Gardens | Dunragit

Winter Walks & Trails  

Snow dusted hillsides, the crunch of frozen grass underfoot, and our lochs and rivers sparkling in the winter sunshine. ‘Tis the season to wrap up warm and embrace the sights and sounds of South Scotland. Whether you’re looking to work up an appetite for the holidays or heading out for a post-Christmas lunch walk along the meandering Tweed, there’s plenty of options to choose from. 

Families will enjoy the path along the River Tweed to the Union Chain Bridge and Paxton House also makes for a great walk for little legs. Alternatively, head to Harestanes, where the park and kids play park remain open through the winter. Another easy walk for is along the edge of the marshes and the Martyr’s stake in Wigtown and then onwards to the Bird Hide at the harbour to combine history and birdwatching all in one walk.

Those in favour of a longer outing might enjoy a ramble around Threave Garden and Estate or at Glenwhan Gardens. Or even the Galloway Forest Park, Britain’s largest forest park offers a mixture of forest and lochside walking trails to suit various fitness levels. 

Looking for even more breathtaking views? The trails of the Tweed Valley offer scenic lookout points galore. The Three Brethren near Selkirk, Neidpath Circuit in Peebles and the surrounding forest walks are fantastic options – just remember to dress for the weather!

Prefer to blow away the cobwebs along the coast? Keep your eyes open. You may spot grey seal pups along the Berwickshire Coastal Path. On the western coast of Dumfries & Galloway, the Mull of Galloway path offers stunning views on a clear day.

Wherever you decide to roam, always remember to respect, protect, enjoy: Keep a safe distance from animals and follow the Outdoor Access Code.

The Princess Switch: Switched Again.

Cosy up at home

If you don’t want to venture out, you can still connect with the South of Scotland. Whether due to the weather or because you’re keeping safe at home, here is a virtual option for you. 

Get comfortable on the sofa and watch The Princess Switch – Switched Again on Netflix. The sequel of the popular Christmas film The Princess Switch sees Duchess Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens) unexpectedly inheriting the throne to Montenaro. She needs the support of friend and double Stacy (also played by Hudgens), but a third lookalike could ruin their plans. The movie was filmed mainly at grand Manderston House near Duns. The ballroom, drawing room and morning room stand in for Margaret’s royal apartments. Additionally, the stunning marble hall, silver staircase and old kitchen make an appearance, covered in sparkling Christmas decorations. Look closely; you might even spot that Santa’s Magical Village is set in the extensive stables at Manderston. 

Or perhaps you would like to ensure you are fully up to speed with the Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon’s most recent installment is out for Christmas and Season 6 due in March 2022. But refresh your memory and watch Drumlanrig Castle feature as the Earl of Sandringham’s estate in Season 2.