A Magical December

Hey guys, I hope you all had a great Christmas break. I certainly did: it was so nice to see my family and some old friends again! I’m actually writing this blog entry while I’m still at home and ‘preparing’ for the new semester to start, which basically means that I’m doing nothing except for sleeping and watching the darts world cup – but hey, that’s what the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are for! 😀

This blog entry is dedicated to all the things I did in December before the Christmas break – which is a lot! I was so surprised about how much Edinburgh has to offer during Christmas time – it was definitely more than I would’ve expected.

Edinburgh’s 24 Doors of Adventblog2

One of the best things is definitely the 24 Doors of Advent, which is an Advent Calendar that takes place in the city: every day, another building opens its doors, so that you can visit something else every day and get to know the city a little better. I also went to visit some Advent Calendar doors, with the most impressive one being St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. The cathedral itself is always open to public, but the Song School, whose walls are covered with the beautiful murals you can see in the photo, is usually only open during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August – and on its Advent Calendar day. If you ever get the chance to see the murals, do it! They are spectacular and the picture does not do justice to their beauty.

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My second highlight was the Mansfield Traquair Centre, a former church that is now a location for events of all kinds. The walls of this centre are also covered by beautiful murals by the same artist who also painted the walls of the Song School: Phoebe Anna Traquair. The centre is opened once per month, and you should definitely go and see it sometime as well – I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in this city.

Edinburgh Castle

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Although I said December in my introduction, I’m also going to include one event that took place in November: St. Andrew’s Day. Now, you guys know that I’m German, so I’m not that well informed about Scotland’s national holiday, but what I do know now is that you can visit the castle on that day – FOR FREE! That is right, I visited the castle and I didn’t pay anything for it. Nevertheless, you guys should also visit it when you have time. I know that I’m repeating myself, but it was just so impressive! There are some parts that you’re not allowed to take photos of, like the Scottish Crown Jewels, but I’m going to include a different picture that I took at the castle. It’s definitely worth seeing and I’m going to show it to my Mum when she’s visiting me again. I think it’s a must-do when you’re in Edinburgh, although it is a little expensive.

Going to the movies… uh… plays

By now I’ve definitely realised that Edinburgh is a theatre city – not only because of the Festival Fringe in August, but also because there are so many theatres and SO MANY plays showing. I forgot to mention in an earlier blog entry that I already went to see a play called An Inspector Calls in October. We actually read this play in school, so it was really cool to see the words come to life on stage. I liked the interpretation of the play very much, so I decided to go to the theatre again in December, because another one of my favourite plays was showing: Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. It was so cute, especially when snowflakes made of foam fell down on the audience at the end of the play. 🙂 Another cool thing was that the action was moved from London to Edinburgh and a side plot that involved the Greyfriars Bobby was included. 🙂

The Castle of Light

I returned to the castle in December to see the Castle of Light, an event during which you could see different light installations in the outdoor areas of the castle. I also enjoyed this event very much, especially the installation in the castle’s courtyard that showed a party taking place in the castle. 😀 The adults rhythmically nodded their heads and the kids danced like there was no tomorrow – that was the coolest thing about the whole event. 🙂

Christmas at the Botanics

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Talking about light installations: definitely one of the best things I’ve done here so far was going to the Botanical Garden’s Christmas event with my friend Maya.

Maya has actually returned to her home university in the Netherlands by now, which makes me really sad. 😦 Maya, when you’re reading this: I miss you already. 😦 There are only two kinds of people in the world: the ones that take a dessert after dinner and the ones that don’t – and Maya and I are both dessert people, which is one of the reasons why it was so nice to spend time with her and why we always had so much fun together. 🙂 I hope I’ll see you again soon, my friend!

So, the Botanical Garden’s light show is actually much bigger than the one at the castle and we spent A LOT of time there. It was also a little pricey, but SO WORTH IT! One of my highlights, which you can see in the photo, was the plant house that changed colours in the rhythm of the song that was playing – “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is my favourite Christmas movie ever. 🙂

If you have a small budget and you have to choose between some events during Christmas time, do this. As I said, it was really worth the money.

Community Christmas

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Another thing to do FOR FREE during Christmas time is Edinburgh’s Community Christmas: every day between the 11th of December and 22nd of December, a different choir was singing Christmas carols at different locations in the city while a light show was projected at a nearby building (you can see it at the photo I included). I went to see it at Abbeyhill Primary School, which was SO CUTE! 🙂 The kids did a great job singing and the light show was also very sweet.

Night Walk for Edinburgh

You should save the best for last, right? And that’s exactly what I did here, because I still need to talk about the coolest thing I’ve done here so far: the Night Walk for Edinburgh. I didn’t really know what was expecting me when I read about this on the internet – the whole description sounded kind of mysterious, so I just went there thinking it would probably be something similar to a guided tour through the old town.

The whole thing is organised by the Fruit Market Gallery, a really cute book, art and gift shop located at the highest level of Waverley Mall. Once I was there, I was handed a mobile phone and headphones, then I went outside where a nice guy told me what was about to happen: the whole walk takes about an hour, and you’re wearing the headphones and watching a movie that is showing on the phone for the whole time. The story the movie tells is actually filmed from a first-person perspective, so that you will always see the same things as protagonist/narrator, e. g. when she is standing in front of Scott Monument, so are you. The story itself follows a woman who finds mysterious notes on her way through the old town while she is reflecting about her own life in the city.

I was not only impressed, I was in fact BLOWN AWAY! I’d never done anything comparable to this before, and the whole concept was just so creative and fascinating. Sometimes, you could hear music, conversations and other sounds in the film, and at one point, I didn’t even know what was reality and what was fiction anymore. The story itself was also so cool – mysterious, philosophical, a little creepy sometimes, and poetic – just everything I like. 🙂 As the name suggests, the walk takes place at night, but don’t worry, there are actually people that look after you, they just hide behind corners so that they don’t destroy the atmosphere. 😉

And the whole thing was also FOR FREE!

It’s actually a project done by artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, and I really hope that they will expand the concept. Like, seriously, you could do so much with it! How about a murder mystery in the old town for example? Wouldn’t that be amazing? I would also be willing to pay money for something so special. You can still do the Night Walk until the 31st of January, so GO AND DO IT! 😀 No, seriously, it’s amazing, you should do it.

So, that’s it about my latest experiences in Edinburgh. I hope that the next semester will be as good as the previous one – or maybe even better, considering that it’s going to be spring soon. So, maybe we’ll get some better weather? Well, I hope so! We’ll also be getting a new flatmate, which will probably one of the topics in my next blog entry. 🙂

I really hope that you guys have a good start into the new semester!

Much love,

Laura