For a few years now I've been meaning to go through to Edinburgh to see the Christmas Lights as they usually appear on TV for the countdown to Hogmanay. A combination of two female friends spending a week in that city sightseeing and staying over for New Year to see the fireworks plus my new over 60s bus pass meant there was no better time to visit.
With 75,000 extra people from all over the world expected in Edinburgh over that period I didn't fancy the New Year party itself but seeing Edinburgh at Christmas was a real highlight. Although I live in Glasgow, over many decades my knowledge of Edinburgh has grown but the city centre at Christmas time was still an unknown factor.
I have to say comparing the two cities now in 2016/17 Edinburgh's lights are far better than Glasgow's and it has a much more festive and lively feel to it. Part of the reason for that is the famous, spectacular skyline of spires, domes and castle; the open aspect of Princes Street and the adjacent Christmas market.
It feels fun, safe and friendly after dark as most of the people out and about are tourists just looking for a good time. By comparison Glasgow has the closed in George Square, a few lesser streets of lights and a local population. After years of austerity cuts and other factors both cities have a large and very visible homeless presence which is noticeable even to casual day tourists like myself but these days Edinburgh doesn't feel as depressing a venue as Glasgow city centre. I could gloss over that fact but anyone visiting the capital will see the numbers sleeping rough on the pavements for themselves- some surprisingly young- even teenage girls.
Having said that we did have a great time through there and I would recommend it to anyone. Edinburgh is very close to Glasgow and a good choice for a day trip at any time of year. It is a mere one hour away by car, bus or train.
The two cities are very different in style, architecture, landscape and layout and it's amazing how many things in both go unnoticed by the news and media which tends to just report things happening within their own geographical bubble unless it's a large international event like the Edinburgh Festival. So many of the events and free shows we discovered going on and enjoyed over Christmas in Edinburgh I had never heard reported on the Scottish News in Glasgow, which is not surprising with a limited time slot for current affairs and all the other news from all over the world to cover.
There were many pleasant surprises – a great time was had by all.
For more info on walks and cycle rides throughout this large area- 80 walks and cycle rides, including all the Firth of Clyde Islands, see: Walking and Cycling Guide to the Clyde and the Firth of Clyde by Bob Law