{Edinburgh} Christmas Fun at Mortonhall Garden Centre

There are so many Christmassy things to do in Edinburgh every year – night light shows, Christmas plays and pantomimes, visits with Santa, Christmas markets with fairground rides and ice skating… You’re spoilt for choice, but it can also all add up pretty quickly. So I wanted to share a recommendation which you that has become one of our favourite Christmas outings, but needn’t cost you more than a bus ride. I’m actually a wee bit hesitant to share it, as I don’t want it to become too popular, but at the same time I want them to get lots of visitors so they continue to do well because there’s already so many great places that have had to shut down in the past few years. Anyway, so this hidden gem that I speak of is – Mortonhall Garden Centre!

Mortonhall Garden Centre Christmas Display

Yes, that’s right, a garden centre! Maybe not a place you’d think to visit in the midst of Winter, but besides all your various gardening needs they also have everything you could possibly require to clad your home out for the festive season – trees, garlands, wreaths, Christmas ornaments, lights, nutcrackers, festive doormats…you name it, they have it. And at fairly reasonable prices too. This year, they have everything arranged in to different themes, from the nature bound ‘Picnic at the Potting Shed’ and the traditional reds and greens in ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, to the blues and silvers of ‘Frosty Morning’ and the candy cane explosion of ‘Gingerbread Farmshop’. Just walking around and taking in all the beautiful displays brought us so much joy, as did the piano which was inviting visitors to play. We also chose a couple new decorations to add to our collection.

But it’s not the displays – beautiful as they are – that make Mortonhall Garden Centre a hidden gem and must visit destination in the run up to Christmas. No, that would be the animated Winter Wonderland village, and the singing reindeer. Say what? Yes, you heard right, singing reindeer. But let’s go a step back and start with the Winter Wonderland. This absolutely stunning miniature village includes everything from houses, shops and fairground rides, to a moving chairlift, people ice skating on a frozen pond, and even Dr Who’s TARDIS! There are so many details to discover, it’s impossible to list them all, so just see for yourself:

The wee preview above does not do it justice though, you really need to go along and have a look at the real thing. We spent a good amount of time studying all the details, constantly discovering something new that moved or other little surprises. We each picked our favourite shops (definitely the nutcracker workshop for me!) and decided where we would like to live. Even my teenager got really enthusiastic about it. There’s a donation bucket too, where you can pop in your spare change to benefit Marie Curie Hospice.

Mortonhall Garden Center Winter Wonderland Village

So about those singing reindeer…these are set-up in the outdoor area of the Garden Centre. They are three life-size animatronic reindeer (or two reindeer plus a donkey with fake antlers, as my youngest readily pointed out) set up to look like they are standing in a stable.

Mortonhall Garden Centre Singing Reindeer

Visitors can press the big shiny button, and they spring in to action singing or chatting. There were three different tracks in total to run through, and I think we listed to them all at least twice.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to take a souvenir photo in the Klondyke Snowglobe, which was situated right next to the reindeer.

The Garden Centre has a nice cafe too, with a selection sandwiches, hot lunch options, cakes, and the usual variety of soft drinks and hot drinks. This year we visited over lunch, last year we came in the afternoon and had cake and tea. So yes, the visits do cost us a little more than just the bus fair, as we always visit the cafe, and buy a few new decorations each year, but it still works out cheaper than a lot of the other big ticket Christmas outings on offer, and we can adjust our spendings to whatever our budget is.

Whether you’ve had enough of all the crazy commercialism in the city centre, are looking for a festive outing that doesn’t break the bank, or just fancy something a little bit different, a visit to Mortonhall Garden Centre is bound to put a smile on your face and make you feel all Christmassy!

How to get there

Address: Mortonhall Garden Centre, Mortonhall, Frogston Road East, Edinburgh EH16 6TJ

There’s a car park at the Garden Centre, but it’s actually really easy to get there on public transport too, which is great for folks like us that don’t have a car. And if you’re not lugging great big bags of compost home, you don’t need to worry about whether you’ll find a parking space either. Lothina Bus No.11 stops right outside the Garden Centre coming from the city centre, and the bus towards the city centre stops less than 200 metres along on the other side of the road (though do be careful when crossing).

Visitor Info

Opening hours: Mortonhall Garden Centre is open daily, times vary throughout the week. Closed on 25th and 26th December and 1st January, and closes early on 24th and 31st December. The Christmas displays have been open since 2 November. Up to date opening times can be found on their website.

Website: www.klondyke.co.uk/store-locator/mortonhall-garden-centre-edinburgh/

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