Edinburgh in Winter: Edinburgh Light Night 2013

Happy holidays! Although Christmas Day has passed, the festive mood in Edinburgh began with Light Night in November and will last at least until Hogmanay. I decided to do street photography on Light Night and put together a post. All pictures are posted here for news and editorial purposes only.

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“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”

The crowd began singing classic Christmas carols as the Edinburgh Gorgie Salvation Army Band played familiar tunes on a stage, marking the start of the 2013 Edinburgh Light Night celebration.

Standing among strangers, I find myself joining in, savoring the festive songs. Back home, I’m used to celebrating Christmas on a smaller scale, spending time celebrating with family and friends. Although we visit crafts fairs, exchange gifts, and attend a few parties, I never really celebrated with others as a community. 

But here, I’ve become drawn to these festive celebrations.

Perhaps, the holiday carols and traditions, so familiar, provide a sense of comfort while I’m thousands of miles away from home. Perhaps, as a temporary visitor, I cherish the Light Night festivities more, knowing this may be the only one that I ever attend. Perhaps, as a traveler longing to be more than a tourist, I prize this chance to get to know the city better and experience Scottish culture.

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Twelve Days of Christmas

Edinburgh Light Night is an annual winter celebration on the streets of Edinburgh, involving various holiday performances and the turning on of Christmas lights in the city.

This year’s event took place on November 24, 2013. The theme was the “twelve days of Christmas”, and over 60 school, community, and other groups” took part to celebrate “one of the  the 12 days of Christmas”.

The stages hosted events ranging from classic Christmas songs performed by bands and choirs, to dances and hula hoop acts.

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A Big Turnout

At least a few thousand people turned up to enjoy the performances. The streets were flooded with people and a lucky few watched from windows and balconies. There were other international students, families with children, residents out with friends, and quite a few photographers and journalists out to document the occasion.

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Candid Moments

I walked through the crowd to visit the different stages, but found myself surrounded and stranded. Still, despite the big crowds, we were having fun, laughing, snapping photos, watching performances.

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However, while having fun, some people neglected to keep the streets clean and left garbage lying around…

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Lights, Songs, and Fireworks

After a few hours, the performances culminated in a final choral performance, bagpipe music, the appearance of Sir Chris Hoy (six-times Olympic champion cyclist), and several minutes of fireworks.

I escaped the crowd and went to the second-floor window of the store directly facing the main stage. Several photographers were there already with their professional gear, but I found room near a side window. From this vantage point, I listened to the ending songs and speeches, watched the fireworks and audience.

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The night ends, but the lights are on

While the stages cleared, people admired the now lit-up lights and continued celebrating publically or indoors. I joined the crowd once more and headed for the Christmas markets at Princes Street Gardens, looking to find some snacks and gifts to end the night.


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Where are you spending your winter holidays this year? How did you celebrate? What are your favorite traditions and festive events at home or abroad?


  1. Thanks, Ursula :) I’m really looking forward to the Hogmanay celebration! Especially excited about the torchlight procession and fireworks…

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