St Andrews is a wonderful place to visit all year round, with its unique blend of culture, history and natural raw beauty, not to mention the world-class golfing too.
But at Christmas it takes on an almost magical quality, and visiting in December is a particularly special experience.
We take a closer look at what St Andrews has to offer during the festive season, and the activities you could enjoy.
Christmas at Craigtoun
Stretching over the weekend from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th December, Christmas at Craigtoun is a festival of food, drink and crafts.
There will be something for the whole family to enjoy, with plenty of delicious, locally produced food and drinks, with many stalls to buy Christmas gifts from too. There’s a special Craft Village section featuring artisans and their products, such as jewellery, ceramics, woodwork, soaps and traditional leather designs. Come and buy your loved ones a truly unique gift for Christmas than you can guarantee they won’t find in any high street shop!
Although it’s a market, it’s more of an event than just a collection of stalls, as there’s entertainment throughout the weekend, including live bands.
And of course, what Christmas event would be complete without a visit from the man in red himself? Santa and his helpers will be arriving directly from the North Pole on Friday evening, and will be in his grotto over the weekend. Boys and girls can take a trip on ‘Puffin Billy’ where they can hear Christmas stories before talking to Santa himself.
To top off a magical experience which will leave them wide-eyed with wonder, Santa will hand out a gift to each child that visits him. But only if they’ve been good of course….
Bird watching in St Andrews
The summer months in St Andrews attract twitchers keen to see the comical puffins which inhabit local islands and can easily be seen in their natural habitat.
However, by December the puffin will have disappeared for several months, due to return to the shores in the spring. But this doesn’t mean that there’s not much for birdwatchers to see and do in St Andrews and in fact, the sparse foliage and scarcity of food means that it’s often possible to get far better sightings in the colder months.
St Andrews has several reserves and even in the height of winter, the landscape is beautiful and stirring. If you get the chance to enjoy a hike out when the air is frosty, it’s like being transported to another world.
There are still plenty of sea birds and waders around, with species such as the Little Auk, Little Gull, Pomarine Skua as well as sandpipers, oystercatchers, gannets and cormorants.
Birds of prey can still be seen, including the elusive red kite. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to check the water, trees, and the air to see what you can spot!
Traditional New Year celebrations
While Christmas often dominates the thoughts of December, once the 25th has been and gone, there’s still the New Year celebrations to enjoy on the 31st!
There’s plenty of pantomimes on during the month of December so if you want to join in with some silly fun, you’ll have lots of choice.
But when it comes to New Year’s Eve, St Andrews celebrates in authentic Scottish style. Rather than organise mass, commercial events, locals congregate in the local Byre for a ceilidh, a form of traditional Scottish dancing. Visitors are warmly welcomed and what’s great about a ceilidh is that you don’t need to know the moves to join in, as there’s a caller. Why not prepare to eat, drink and be merry in true Scottish style this New Year’s Eve?
There are lots of things to do and see in St Andrews, such as the Aquarium, the Museum and of course, the famous West Sands Beach. All of the usual attractions will be open too and you’ll find the whole area dotted with events, fairs and celebrations which anyone can attend. Treat yourself to some time in St Andrews this December and discover for yourself what a magical place it really is.
For a luxurious self catering stay during your time in St Andrews contact us at St Andrews Coachhouses 01334 477593 www.standrewscoachhouses.co.uk
Image Credits: Sandcastle Cottage and Jennifer Beaupre