Scotland is a magical place year-round – but around the holidays, we really up the ante. From snow-capped mountains and roaring castle fires to bustling Christmas markets, sparkling lights and rip-roaring ceilidhs, Scotland is the perfect place to spend the holidays.

It doesn’t matter what you’re into or how you like to celebrate, because there’s something for everybody.

Ready to dive in? Kick off the holiday season in true Scottish style with our list of 10 enchanting holiday traditions you can experience in and around the City of Stirling.

Shop ‘til you drop at Stirling Castle

Christmas shopping can be a real chore – but everything’s more fun (and festive) when you’re doing it in a medieval castle, right? Start December with a bang at Stirling Castle’s annual Christmas Shopping Fayre on Tuesday 3 December, where you can snag all the best of local Scottish brands, crafts, festive food and drink.

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Make the most of Panto season

Let’s get real: it’s just not Christmas in Scotland without a dodgy dame, singing Prince Charming or a bit of back-and-forth with an over-the-top, on-stage villain, is it? That’s why you owe it to yourself to get down to the Macrobert for their annual pantomime. This year’s tale covers the trials and tribulations of Rapunzel – and as always, this is not one to be missed.

The Macrobert’s panto runs from Friday 22 November to Tuesday 31 December.

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Get crafty with TCV Scotland

Anybody can nip to the shop and buy a cheap Christmas wreath. But wouldn’t it be so much cooler to actually learn how to make one with love? Head down to The Conservation Volunteers’ local HQ in Bridge of Allan on Saturday 7 December for a day of crafting. You’ll learn how to create a handcrafted wreath from local natural foliage, recycled Christmas decorations and more.

Seasonal refreshments and festive music obviously included.

Learn more >

Join in some carolling

One of the best ways to get in the festive mood is to belt out a carol or two with friends – and it feels so much more epic when you’re carolling inside of a cavernous medieval church. Join Stirling City Choir for their annual Christmas Carol Concert on Sunday 8 December at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling’s magical Old Towne. Fair warning: you’ll be encouraged to sing, too.

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Run (or walk) a mile in Santa’s shoes

Want a guilt-free Christmas dinner? Get active and join the University of Stirling Sport’s annual Santa Dash on Friday 13 December. It’s a fun-filled 3k event for all skill levels, and entry includes a festive Santa hat and plenty of candy canes. Everybody’s encouraged to bring their loudest festive attire to the race, and there will be a prize for our best dressed St Nick!

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Twirl and jive at a Christmas Ceilidh

Ceilidh dancing isn’t just a wild folk tradition here in Scotland – it’s a non-stop (and straight-up exhausting) barrel of laughs. Nothing’s more festive than getting dressed up and heading up the ancient cobbled streets of Stirling’s Old Towne for a classic dance.

That’s why you’ve got to make it to the Tolbooth’s Christmas Ceilidh on Saturday 14 December. Grab a date, bring a group of friends or even just head up on your own and get involved – ceilidhs are always warm and friendly, and everybody will be on their feet by the end of the night.

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Cosy up for a Christmas classic

You’ve seen the Muppets do Dickens, sure – but have you ever seen a live performance of A Christmas Carol in a hall that’s fit for royalty? Cosy up with a mince pie and mulled wine in Stirling Castle’s jaw-dropping great hall from Friday 20 December to Sunday 22 December and enjoy a magical adaptation of the Dickens classic by Chapterhouse Theatre Company.

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Explore the capital

Edinburgh’s Christmas festival is absolutely, 100% not to be missed for some festive fun. Catch festive shows, craft markets, carnival rides and free events. Edinburgh’s only a short train ride from Stirling, and we promise you won’t regret the trip.

See what’s on >

Edinburgh can be pretty spectacular at Christmas.

Ring in the new year at Stirling Castle

Nowhere in the world celebrates New Year’s Eve quite like Scotland. The sights, sounds and tastes of Scottish Hogmanay are completely intoxicating – and there’s quite a do planned against the iconic backdrop of Stirling Castle. This year’s Hogmanay line-up at the castle esplanade includes Gemma Lamont, Dlu, Stephanie Cheape and the Treacherous Orchestra. It’s also being hosted by BBC Scotland’s Jennie Cook.

Festive food and drink, toe-tapping music and an amazing atmosphere are all guaranteed.

Get your tickets >

Stirling Hogmanay

Illuminate the night at the Kelpies

Looking for something a bit different to start 2020? Round off your Hogmanay celebrations with a magical display of fire and lights at the Helix Park in Falkirk.

Get lost in pagan tales, roast marshmallows over huge bonfires and explore the sprawling park by dark to discover all sorts of weird and wonderful illuminations. Fire & Light 2020: Visions runs from Wednesday 1 January to Thursday 2 January.

Reserve your space >

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Our little city is magical around the holidays, and there are all sorts of hidden treasures, cool events and heart-warming ways to give back on and around campus, the City of Stirling and across Scotland. Just bundle up, get out there and get involved.

After all, Christmas only happens once a year, right? Make the most of it!