18 fun family things to do in Scotland this autumn/winter

Enjoy a fireworks display on Glasgow Green. Picture: TSPL
Enjoy a fireworks display on Glasgow Green. Picture: TSPL
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THE nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder but do not despair! There are plenty of fun events around Scotland for you and your family to enjoy before the festive season kicks off.

Here are 18 of the best for you to check out.

EDUCATIONAL

THE DUNDEE SCIENCE FESTIVAL, DUNDEE

(Saturday 29th October to Sunday 13th November, Dundee Science Centre, Greenmarket, Dundee)

A good mix of fun attractions for all ages, Dundee Science Festival will help you discover the wonders all around us and learn more about the way the world works. Learn about the night sky and discover if you’ve got what it takes to become an astronaut at the Douglas Community Centre (Wed 9 Nov, Free), enjoy fun with science at the Overgate Shopping Centre (Sat 12 Nov, free) or explore animals and the environment through fun, hands-on activities with a range of experts at the Science Centre (Sat 5 Nov - Sun 6 Nov, adults: £7.95 Kids: £5.95).

The Street of Light was staged on the  Royal Mile last year. Picture: TSPL

The Street of Light was staged on the Royal Mile last year. Picture: TSPL

MAGIC LANTERN STORYTELLING, EDINBURGH

(Friday, 25 November, Museum of Childhood, High Street, Edinburgh)

In the cosy atmosphere of the Museum of Childhood, hear tales of dreams and adventures from storyteller Ailie Finlay as part of Book Week Scotland, colourfully illuminated by a real Victorian magic lantern show. Perfect for families with younger children, it’s a free event so we recommend booking in advance.

FAMILY FUN

Enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

Enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

UNITED SK8S FAMILY ROLLER DISCO, EDINBURGH

(Saturday, 19th November and Saturday 17th December, 4-7:30pm, Meadowbank Sports Centre, London Road, Edinburgh)

Roller Discos have been quietly coming back into fashion for a while now and they are the perfect excuse to show of the skills you learned as a kid to your own children. A great opportunity for some family bonding, this event runs over two dates in November and December at Scotland’s largest indoor arena and offers both equipment hire and great music to skate to. Don’t worry if you aren’t exactly a skating champ, the event caters for all levels and those of you who consider themselves experts can even take on the limbo challenge. Prices start at £5 a ticket.

SCOTTISH KIDS SHOW, ABERDEEN

Take a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Picture: Geograph.org

Take a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Picture: Geograph.org

(Saturday 26th November and 27th November, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, Exhibition Avenue, Aberdeen)

If a child could design their perfect weekend it would probably go something like this; this fun event returns to Aberdeen’s Exhibition and Conference centre promising an 8ft T-Rex, a dinosaur petting zoo, a giant slide, bouncy castles and plenty of soft play areas.

For one weekend only, the organisers say kids will even be able to go to the top of the AECC Tower, Aberdeen’s highest 360 degree viewing point. Ticket prices for kids start at £5 while adults can get in for £8 with a family ticket for two adults and two kids being just £20.

GLASGOW STYLE MILE CARNIVAL, GLASGOW

(Saturday, 27 November, St Enoch Square, Glasgow)

Who says street festivals are just for summer, The Style Mile Christmas Carnival brings a little bit of that carnival spirit to the streets of Glasgow’s city centre this autumn. Beginning at the St Enoch’s Centre and finishing at George Square, expect music, dance and spectacle as festive characters are brought to life.

M & D’S ON ICE, MOTHERWELL

(M&D’s, Scotland’s Theme Park, Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell)

Sadly Glasgow’s city centre open air ice rink won’t be returning this year but you don’t have to travel far to experience some fun on the ice as M & D’s offer their own version of the George Square ice rink. Take a spin on the ice before enjoying great food and the park’s winter warmer – hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows - while you warm yourself up with the indoor fire pit.

DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS FROZEN, ABERDEEN, GLASGOW

(Thursday 24th November to Sunday the 27th November, Glasgow SSE Hydro, Wednesday 7th to Sunday the 11th December, Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC), Bridge of Don, Aberdeen)

If you haven’t already been driven insane by the sound of your children singing Let It Go on repeat and you can still stomach the idea of enjoying the phenomenon that is Disney’s Frozen, then this fun show which brings the animation to life will be the perfect way to treat your kids to an early Christmas present. Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, and Christoph and Sven as they take you on a winter adventure.

WOODLAND EXPERIENCES AND WILDLIFE

WOODLAND LIGHT EXPERIENCE, BALFRON

(Friday 4th November to Sunday 20th November, Balfron Station, Balfron)

Enjoy an autumnal trek through a woodland wonderland filled with light and dazzling projections, the theme for this year’s Woodland Light Experience is Transitions and will feature a light and sound show in a beautiful highland forest. Prices start at just £6 for kids and £12 for adults, with family discount tickets available on request. The light show begins at 4.30pm every evening with extended timings available over the weekend. The event is centrally sourced and easily accessible from Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh.

COLOURS OF CLUNY, MORAYSHIRE

(Wednesday 9th November to Sunday to Sunday 20th November, Cluny Hill, Forres, Morayshire)

A brand new light spectacle is heading to the hills around Forres this month as Colours of Cluny arrives in Cluny Hill. Setting the hill, which is located above Grant Park alight with colour, the event aims to take attendees on an incredible evening walk in the park that they’ll remember for years to come. Featuring light shows, music and beautiful scenery, there will be plenty to keep everyone entertained. Prices range from £8 - £14 for adults and £4 to £7 for children, depending on the day of the week and there are family discount tickets also available on request.

WILD AT NIGHT, DUMFRIES

(Saturday, 19th November and Saturday, 10th December RSPB Mersehead Reserve & Visitor Centre, Southwick, Dumfries)

Grab a torch and head into the woodland and countryside of Dumfries in search of Scotland’s wonderful nocturnal nightlife, the centre’s wildlife experts will take you on search of bats, owls and badgers, giving you a chance to see these wonderful animals up close and personal. Tickets start at just £3 per person.

FEED THE REINDEER WITH THE CAIRNGORM REINDEER CENTRE, AVIEMORE

(Daily trips throughout November and December, Reindeer House, Glenmore, Aviemore)

Find out what Donner and Blitzen and Comet and Cupid and the crew get up to when they aren’t tending Santa’s sleigh, One of the centre’s experienced reindeer herders will take you up into the hill to see the herd of 150 reindeer, where you will be able to go right in amongst the herd, with opportunities to hand feed, stroke and take photos with them. Those with smaller kids can arrange a trip to the paddocks and exhibition in Glenmore for an easier way to see the reindeer.

GORGIE CITY FARM, EDINBURGH

(Open 7 days per week, 9.30am to 4.00pm, 51 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh)

Take a farm tour with the excellent community farm at Gorgie Road and have fun learning all about every aspect of agriculture, from livestock to harvesting. Enrol in one of the excellent workshops with the chance to cuddle the animals (for smaller kids), get muddy or become a farmer’s all while learning about food production, life cycles and crops.

FIREWORKS

CITY OF INVERNESS CIVIC BONFIRE AND FIREWORKS DISPLAY, INVERNESS

(Saturday, 5th November, Town House, Inverness)

For Bonfire night, Inverness is going big with this excellent firework display (which organisers say will be the best in Scotland) and the biggest bonfire in the Highlands. It’s free but it is expected to be massively busy so make plenty of time to get there.

Those of you who are brave enough can take part in the 15 foot Charity Firewalk Challenge in Bught Park from 6pm.

FIREWORKS DISPLAY AT GLASGOW GREEN, GLASGOW

(Saturday, 5th November, Glasgow Green, Glasgow)

Glasgow’s biggest fireworks display returns with a bang (sorry) this month as the huge event, which is free to attend kicks off once more at Glasgow Green. With a fun fair and food and drink stalls and plenty of places to enjoy the show, this is the best way to enjoy bonfire night if you’re in the city.

FOOD AND DRINK

EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS, GLASGOW

(Thursday, 10 November until Christmas, St Enoch Square and 26th November until Christmas, George Square, Glasgow)

Usually we aren’t to keen on Christmas events before December but everyone loves a Christmas market and there’s no better place to get into the seasonal spirit. Head along to St Enoch Square and enjoy the traditional market offering tasty festive treats and the perfect space to seek some refuge from the shopping hordes that mob the city centre. Soak in the festive atmosphere with the city centre Christmas lights, live entertainment and fairground rides.

EDINBURGH’S CHRISTMAS, EDINBURGH

(Friday, 18th November to 7th January, Edinburgh city centre)

Its back and bigger than ever, Edinburgh’s Christmas festivals light up the city at this time of the year and are quite rightly considered to be some of the best in Europe. The month long programme transforms the city into a magical winter wonderland, where you can enjoy ice skating, markets and rides including the Big Wheel with breathtaking views over the city.

Take in the stunning Street of Light on the Royal Mile which returns this year and could almost be an event in its own right.

EH postcode holders also receive a 20 per cent discount on all shows, rides and attractions.

SCOTLAND’S OUTDOOR CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL, PERTH

(Saturday, 19th and Sunday 20th of November, King Edward Street, Perth)

A festival of chocolate you say? Yeah, we guess it doesn’t take much more of a sales pitch than that, but Perth’s Festival of Chocolate is truly a festival of chocolate and a great place to check out with the family if you want to learn more about this wonderful treat and Scotland’s role in producing it (we have more than a few excellent chocolatiers). There are chocolate workshops for children, storytelling sessions and plenty of opportunities to indulge in the star of the show. There’s also an excellent craft section and plenty of local producers will be on hand selling their wares, perfect for those looking to grab some early Christmas presents.

GALASHIELS CHRISTMAS CRAFT & GIFT FAYRE & SANTA’S GROTTO, GALASHIELS

(Saturday, 26th November and Sunday, 27th November, Volunteer Hall, St John Street, Galashiels)

Let the kids get their Christmas lists in early with this chance to visit Santa’s Grotto (£2.50 per child) or take part in the Christmas Card competition (£1 per child) (either pre-made or created on the day) while the adults shop around for Christmas gifts at the fayre.