45 essential things to do in Edinburgh this December
Edinburgh winter December

If you thought December was only going to be about German Markets, carol concerts and Hogmanay parties in Edinburgh, think again.

Our December events guide is brimming with heaps of brilliant (mostly) non-Christmas related activities that will keep you more than occupied both before and after the big day itself.

Billy Bragg
Getty Images

1 Dec: Billy Bragg – Legendary alt-folk singer-songwriter Billy Bragg will perform songs from three decades’ worth of albums with support from Northern Irish artist Duke Special. (Tue 1 Dec, £21.50, Queens Hall, 85-89 Clerk Street, EH8 9JG – more info)

1 Dec: Caro Emerald – Retro-inspired sounds from a Dutch pop and jazz singing sensation – the award-winning Caro Emerald. (Tue 1 Dec, from £24.75, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, EH1 2EA – more info)

1 Dec: Space – Scouse band Space had a hit in 1996 with track ‘Female of the Species’ and now they’re back with their first new album in 10 years – Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab(Tue 1 Dec, £14, Electric Circus, 36-39 Market Street, EH1 1DF – more info)

1 Dec: Christopher Owens – Former Girls frontman Christopher Owens will visit Scotland’s capital city as a solo artist this month to show off his third album Chrissybaby Forever, released earlier this year. (Tue 1 Dec, £11.50, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

2 Dec: The Last Battle – Formed right here in Edinburgh in 2009, indie alt-folk five-piece The Last Battle have released two albums to date and toured the UK alongside King Creosote, Withered Hand and First Aid Kit. (Wed 2 Dec, £7, Electric Circus, 36-39 Market Street, EH1 1DF – more info)

2 Dec: Brawlers – Brawlers are four punk rockers hailing from Leeds who released their first album Romantic Errors of Our Youth in April this year, following up on the brilliantly named EP I Am a Worthless Piece of Shit(Wed 2 Dec, £6, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

3 Dec: Tijuana Bibles – Grunge, groove and blues influenced Glaswegian band Tijuana Bibles head east to headline at Electric Circus after opening for the likes of The View and Alabama 3 in the last 18 months. (Thu 3 Dec, £7, Electric Circus, 36-39 Market Street, EH1 1DF – more info)

3 Dec: Stewart Brewing Tap Takeover – Join the Stewart Brewing team as they leave their home in Loanhead to visit Edinburgh’s city centre. They’ll be serving up new brews of their Hop Series from the taps, with bottles of the Elysium barrel aged series in the fridges. (Thu 3 Dec, free, The Blue Blazer, 2 Spittal Street, EH3 9DX – more info)

3 Dec: Washington Irving – Another episode of Summerhall’s ongoing ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ gig series, this time starring Scottish alt-folk four-piece Washington Irving. (Thu 3 Dec, £10, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, EH9 1PL – more info)

4 Dec: Randolph’s Leap – The following night long-serving Glasgow-based outfit Randolph’s Leap will take their turn on Summerhall’s stage, playing their self-proclaimed “pop music for unpopular people”. (Fri 4 Dec, £10, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, EH9 1PL – more info)

4 Dec onwards: Lobster & Champagne Fridays – You don’t get much fancier than consuming lobster and champagne at the same time. Now – thanks to new-ish Edinburgh restaurant – Kilted Lobster you can enjoy them together every single Friday night for a very reasonable price. (Fri 4 Dec onwards, from £16, Kilted Lobster, 112 St Stephen Street, EH3 5AD – more info)

4-5 Dec: The Proclaimers – Edinburgh’s sweethearts the Reid brothers – more commonly known as The Proclaimers – released their 10th album Let’s Hear It For the Dogs this year. Beg, steal and borrow to see one of their back to back homecoming performances at the Playhouse. (Fri 4 and Sat 5 Dec, from £27.50, Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Lane, EH1 3AA – more info)

5 Dec onwards: Chocolate Tour of Edinburgh – An ideal weekend activity for any chocoholic – spend two hours walking the city with an expert guide and sampling all of Edinburgh’s best sweet treats. (Sat 5 Dec onwards, £33, Patisserie Valerie, 158-162 Rose Street, EH2 3JD – more info)

5, 12 and 19 Dec: Barney’s Beer: Doors Open Day – Get exclusive access to the brewery where local tipple Barney’s Beer is made behind Summerhall and sample it too, of course. (Sat 5, Sat 12 and Sat 19 Dec, free, Summerhall Brewery, 1 Summerhall Place, EH9 1PL – more info)

Barney's Beer
Barney’s Beer

5 Dec: Alias Kid – Now nearing the end of an extensive tour of the UK – during which they supported Happy Mondays on ten dates – Manchester indie rock band Alias Kid have been dubbed ‘one to watch’ in 2015. (Sat 5 Dec, £8, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

6 Dec: Doctor Zhivago – David Lean’s controversial 1965 masterpiece Dr Zhivago centres around the Russian Civil War and was consequently banned in the Soviet Union. This epic tale of love, politics and hardship – starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie – was finally first screened in Russia in 1994. (Sun 6 Dec, £10.50, Cameo Cinema, 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ – more info)

7 Dec: The Vaccines – Indie rockers The Vaccines had a best-selling debut album and a UK chart-topping follow up. Hear them play their latest record English Graffiti live at the iconic Usher Hall when they pay a visit this month. (Mon 7 Dec, £27.50, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, EH1 2EA – more info)

7 Dec: Scrooged – A Christmas movie? Yes – but also a vintage Bill Murray classic from 1988. See him work his witty magic in this modern re-telling of Dickens story A Christmas Carol(Mon 7 Dec, £7, Cameo Cinema, 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ – more info)

8 Dec: The Carnabys – A young rock band from London with endless swagger, it’s impossible not to enjoy the infectious enthusiasm and undeniable raw talent coming off The Carnabys in waves. (Tue 8 Dec, £8, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

8 Dec: The Skin I Live In – Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar took a first but critically acclaimed step into sci-fi and horror territory with his 2011 film The Skin I Live In. Starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya, the film follows the story of a brilliant yet troubled plastic surgeon and his illegal human experiments. (Tue 8 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

9-13 Dec: S**t-Faced Shakespeare – Fringe sensation Sh**t-Faced Shakespeare is back for a special winter run of (somewhat ironically) the Bard’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In a nutshell – one cast member gets totally sozzled before the show starts and attempts to remember their lines. Hilarious chaos ensues. (Wed 9 – Sun 13 Dec, £16.50, Spiegeltent, St Andrew Square, EH2 – more info)

9 Dec: Kagoule – Three childhood friends from Nottingham formed DIY punk rock band Kagoule in 2012 while still at school and have now released their long-anticipated debut album Urth(Wed 9 Dec, £6, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

9 Dec: Elf – Only Will Ferrell could pull off the yellow tights, curly shoes and green jacket he donned for the role of Buddy in 2003 comedy Elf. Featuring a blonde, pre-hipster Zooey Deschanel this Christmas caper is already 12 years old and undoubtedly a firm festive favourite for many. (Wed 9 Dec, £10.50, Cameo Cinema, 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ – more info)

9-24 Dec: Tracks of the Winter Bear – Tracks of the Winter Bear is a special double bill of two short plays inspired by the same wintery concept and penned by Rona Munro and Stephen Greenhorn, writer of Sunshine on Leith. (Wed 9 – Thu 24 Dec, £18, Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED – more info)

Tracks of the Winter Bear Traverse
Traverse Theatre

10 Dec: Iain Morrison – Scottish singer-songwriter Iain Morrison was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis, learned to play bagpipes at a young age and is heavily influenced by traditional Scottish music today. Each track on his latest solo album Eas – which was released in June this year – was inspired by ancient piping melodies. (Thu 10 Dec, £11.50, Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW – more info)

11 Dec: Withered Hand – Singer-songwriter Dan Willson brings his full band to The Mash House for an intimated Withered Hand hometown show. (Fri 11 Dec, £16.50, The Mash House, Hastie’s Close, 37 Guthrie Street, EH1 1JQ – more info)

11 and 18 Dec: Midwinter Woodland Tales – Witness the Summerhall Dissection Room’s transformation into a wintery woodland with mulled cider, hot seasonal pies and captivating tales from local storyteller Daniel Allison. (Fri 11 and Fri 18 Dec, £15, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, EH9 1PL – more info)

13 and 24 Dec: Die Hard – Action-packed 1988 Bruce Willis movie Die Hard is set at Christmas, therefore it’s a Christmas film – them’s the rules. You’ve got two chances to see it at the cinema in Edinburgh this December. Sun 13 Dec and Thu 24 Dec, £9 / £10.50, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info / Cameo Cinema, 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ – more info)

13 Dec: Hey! Hello! – British-American power pop band Hey! Hello! – featuring The Rev from troublemakers Towers of London – formed in 2012 and recorded their debut album across the Atlantic thanks to the power of technology. (Sun 13 Dec, £15, Electric Circus, 36-39 Market Street, EH1 1DF – more info)

14 Dec: Bake Bread with Edinburgh Foody – Learn to make a mean baguette in a relaxed and friendly environment with help from French-trained bakers and founder of the Edinburgh Foody website Danielle. (Mon 14 Dec, from £43.05, Loudons Cafe, 94b Fountainbridge, EH3 9QA – more info)

14 Dec: The Charlatans – Despite a tragic history, Britpop lads The Charlatans have released 12 chart-storming studio albums in their 26 year long career and are still adored by music fans of all ages. (Mon 14 Dec, £30.25, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, EH1 2EA – more info)

17 Dec: Watch & Wolf: Mean Girls – Here’s a treat for you – Tina Fey’s brilliantly written Mean Girls on the big screen with added tasty snacks and specially crafted cocktails to enjoy as you watch as part of the Watch & Wolf multi-sensory experience. (Thu 17 Dec, £30, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

17 Dec: Neu Reekie’s Xmas Kracker – The Christmas extravaganza edition of arts event Neu! Reekie! will include appearances from author Irvine Welsh, poet Liz Lochhead and hip-hop group Hector Bizerk. An edgy cultural celebration of all things Scottish and all things festive. (Thu 17 Dec, £16, Central Hall, 2 West Tollcross, EH3 9BP – more info)

18 Dec: Stewart Francis: Pun Gent – Canadian comedian and actor Stewart Francis (who you may recognise from such shows as Mock the Week and Live At The Apollo) brings his latest stand-up show Pun Gent to the Edinburgh suburb of Musselburgh for one night only. (Fri 18 Dec, £18.50, Brunton Theatre, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA – more info)

18-19 Dec: Christmas Juniper Festival – The Juniper Gin Festival is back at Summerhall, this time with an extra dash of festive flair. Sample plenty of tasty gin (from Pickering’s to Daffy’s) and eat some great street food to stop you from falling over. (Fri 18 – Sat 19 Dec, £10, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, EH9 1PL – more info)

19 Dec: Bad Santa – Billy Bob stars as a seriously Bad Santa in this brilliantly tasteless Christmas film. Willie Stokes (Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) are professional thieves posing as Santa and his elf during the day in order to rob shopping malls blind at night. (Sat 19 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

19-23 Dec: Drive In Movie Spectacular – Pile into your car – with as many mates as will fit – and drive to Ingliston to watch Christmas movies on the world’s biggest LED screen from the comfort of your own ride. Miracle On 34th Street,Love Actually and Home Alone are among the festive films being shown. (Sat 19 – Wed 23 Dec, £26, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, EH28 8NB – more info)

27 Dec: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – See the talented Maggie Smith bring Muriel Spark’s most famous and infamous character to life in 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and enjoy some glimpses of Edinburgh on screen. (Sun 27 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

27 and 30 Dec: Sunshine On Leith – A slightly more modern Edinburgh stars in upbeat 2013 musical Sunshine on Leith featuring songs from everybody’s favourite Leith duo The Proclaimers. (Sun 27 and Wed 30 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

27-28 Dec: Bay City Rollers – Mid-’70s Scottish pop sensations the Bay City Rollers return home to Edinburgh for two end of year performances at the grand Usher Hall. (Sun 27 – Mon 28 Dec, from £26.85, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, EH1 2EA – more info)

28-30 Dec: Abandoman: Hot Desk – Fringe regulars and Irish comedy hip-hop improv group Abandoman are back in Edinburgh for their biggest show yet. Using audience interaction, quick wit and impressive improvisation skills the gang will take you on a raucous magical and musical journey inside the St Andrew Square Spiegeltent. (Mon 28 – Wed 30 Dec, £17.50, Spiegeltent, St Andrew Square, EH2 – more info)

28 and 31 Dec: Shallow Grave – Jump at the chance to see Danny Boyle’s 1994 directorial debut – and Ewan McGregor’s impressively ’90s hairdo – on the big screen. Dark comedy thriller Shallow Grave follows three flatmates to the brink of sanity and back after the arrival of a mysterious fourth housemate. (Mon 28 and Thu 31 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

28 Dec: Beeches – Edinburgh indie four-piece Beeches celebrate the release of their latest track ‘Breath’ which was crowdfunded and recorded earlier this year. Expect a boisterous end of year performance. (Mon 28 Dec, £8, Electric Circus, 36-39 Market Street, EH1 1DF – more info)

29 Dec: The Illusionist – The Illusionist is Sylvain Chomet’s heartwarming and heartbreaking animated tribute to both Edinburgh and French filmmaker and actor Jacques Tati. (Tue 29 Dec, £9, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

31 Dec: Whisky Galore! – Classic 1949 Ealing comedy Whisky Galore! is a fictional re-telling of the true story of the shipwrecked SS Politician and the unauthorised taking of its cargo of whisky. (Thu 31 Dec, £7.20, Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ – more info)

Got any exciting plans for December in Edinburgh? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

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Main image: John McSporran / Flickr / CC