Synonymous with celebrations of starting a new year, where better to escape to in 2017 for that perfect family break than Scotland’s capital city?
Edinburgh is just a short skip across the Irish Sea and with so much to offer families, the speedy 35 minute Flybe flight time isn’t the only reason that makes it a wonderful getaway destination to take the kids. Anyone who has strolled along the historic Royal Mile to the Castle, then wandered through traditional alleyway closes to discover the eclectic Grassmarket (my personal favourite stop is the Maison de Moggy, where you can grab a perfect cuppa and a cuddle from one of the feline residents of Scotland’s first ever cat café) will tell you that Edinburgh isn’t just the home of Scottish culture and exquisite shopping, oh no! Once you step off the plane there are also a multitude of activities to enjoy lots of fun en famille.
Impossible to miss perched high on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle regally watches over her residents and is understandably one of the city’s top visitor attractions. Walk through the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James Vl in 1566 and take in the breathtaking sights of the crown jewels of Scotland and The Stone of Destiny, the powerful and ancient symbol of Scottish monarchy which witnessed the coronation of its kings for hundreds of years. Be on your guard at one o’clock though, the firing of the gun from the Castle battlements dates back to 1861 when it allowed ships in the Firth of Forth to set the maritime clocks they needed to navigate the world’s oceans. The gun is fired every day except Sundays, Christmas Day or Good Friday, with huge crowds gathering to enjoy the spectacle.
The massive success of the Horrible Histories series demonstrates that children’s thirst for the strange and macabre knows no limits, and at Edinburgh Dungeons your thrilling day out will also be educational. See, hear, feel and (ahem) smell gruesome characters from the city’s perilous past including Burke and Hare, the Cannibal Sawney Bean and the ghost of the Green Lady as they come to life before you. Older children will also no doubt enjoy hearing the spine-chilling tales of former murderous residents on a city ghost tour. Departing frequently from the Mercat Cross on Royal Mile, your guide will take you into the depths of the underground Vaults beneath the streets to see if one or more of the resident ghosts will come out to play.
If you’re interested in finding out more about local folklore, The Scottish Storytelling Centre showcases a creative year-round programme for children including music, dance and puppetry, perfectly tailored for each age group and a wonderful opportunity to get interactive with the arts. The Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile is one place you won’t have to tell the kids to keep their voices down. Described as the ‘noisiest museum in the world’ it’s a treasure trove of objects revealing childhood memories past and present.
Voted Scotland’s best visitor attraction, The Royal Yacht Britannia was home to Her Majesty The Queen. Now berthed in Edinburgh, you can follow in the footsteps of princes and princesses to discover some special surprises in this royal family residence including a cuddly Corgi treasure hunt and an 11-foot Lego model of Britannia. The venue is very family friendly with access for buggies and under 5s go free. If your little monkeys are animal crackers, a must-see is Tiger Tracks – the new and improved home for a pair of endangered Sumatran tigers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. The enclosure has been created to resemble the tigers’ native habitat, residing up in the treetops and featuring covered walkways and a high-level viewing platform. Open every day of the year, discover over 1,000 amazing animals and don’t miss the world-famous penguin parade from the largest outdoor penguin pool in Europe. Nature lovers will also adore BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Nature Reserve of the Year at the Scottish Seabird Centre. Situated in North Berwick, just 30 minutes from Edinburgh, live cameras located on the Firth of Forth islands zoom in on the wildlife action including grey seals on the island of Craigleith and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve – one of the most significant seal populations in Britain – puffins, and the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets.
To round off an action-packed trip, young adventurers can experience the thrills of snowsports this new year at Midlothian Snowsports Centre Hillend, Britain’s largest artificial slope. Whether you love skiing, snowboarding or tubing, it’s fast and furious fun for the entire family – but if you do choose to sit this one out mums and dads – you can still enjoy the spectacular views across Edinburgh from the chairlift.
Box out with Flybe image
Flybe currently offers a choice of up to five flights daily from George Best Belfast City Airport to Edinburgh Airport. Departing at 8:45am on a Friday or Saturday, and with the last returning flight on a Sunday at 7pm, visitors can make the most of a weekend break in the city. Lead-in fares for a single journey from George Best Belfast City Airport to Edinburgh start at £27.99 including taxes and charges. Flybe also regularly offers promotional fares so it’s always worth checking the website for the best deals at flybe.com Located eight miles from the city centre, the journey from the airport takes approximately 25 minutes by taxi or there is also the option of the Airlink 100 express bus or the Edinburgh Airport tram. For attractions information and opening times visit edinburgh.org
Main image credit - © Marketing Edinburgh
Additional image caption – Take flight to the Scottish Seabird Centre