Historic Scotland Thu l7 Dec. Sun 20 Dec. Wed 6 84 Thu 7 Jan. mam—4pm. £6 (£4.50/£l.50). Edinburgh Castle. info: 668 8830/8686. The Historic Scotland season continues with more performances of living history. drama and comedy. Alba Adventure Company present A Rt’rlt'nal Stilt/fer ()foIIg George (Thu I7 Dec). with stories of life in the Castle in the aftermath of the Jacobite Uprising and A Smalls/i C/aiixiiian (Wed 6 & Thu 7 Jan). who will describe the clothing and the weaponry at his disposal. A special Yuletide treat is I-‘irevi'i/e Stories (Sun 20 Dec) presented by the Scottish

Stor telling Centre.

30/;0 Christmas Craft Week Thu I7 Dec. I0.30am—7pm: Fri l8—Sat I9 Dec. I0.30am—5.30pm. Weekly admission 70p (50p: free to the under |2s). Assembly Rooms. George Street. 220 4349. Scotland's leading crafts promoters bring you their Christmas extravaganza of jewellery. silk. ceramics. watercolours. knitwear. pottery and more. Prices range quite dramatically. so there should be something to suit all Yuletide budgets. Edinburgh's Winter Wonderland Until Sun 3 Jan (closed Fri 25 Dec). Sun—Wed l()am—8pm: Thu—Sat l()aiii— l()pm. £4.50 (£3.50); family ticket £l2.50. Princes Street Gardens. info: 226 6550. The wonderland is an open-air rink which can accommodate 250 skaters who would rather be doing triple salkos than trudging around the shops in search of the gifts they promised themselves would be bought by November. Not that you need fret about the shopping. as the Christmas fair at the foot of the Scott Monument features stalls galore. with plenty of unusual gifts.

Christmas Shopping At Hopetoun House Fri l8—Sun 20 Dec. noon—6pm. £2 (£l ). Hopetoun House. South Queensfen'y. 33l 245 I. See photo

ca tion.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Tue 29 Dec—Fri I .lan. Various venues. info: 473 l999. From fun fairs and street theatre to processions and live bands. there's more activity at this year's Hogmanay celebrations than you can shake a stick at. See special Hogiiianay supplement for full details.

Antique 8i Collectors’ Fair Sun 20 Dec. l()am. Meadowbank Sports Centre. I39 London Road. 66| 535 I. With just five days to go. this could be the ideal place to buy a last minute present and it'll be a lot less crowded than Princes Street at this time of year.


Brass Rubbing Centre

Chalmers Close. Royal Mile. 556 4364. Mon—Sat I0am—5pm (closed 25 & 26 Dec; l 8: 2 Jan). Free. but there is a charge for making a rubbing. Housed in the apse of a Gothic church dating back to I460. the centre houses a selection of church brasses and ancient Pictish replicas as well as lots of crayons so you can get rubbing.

Camera Obscura

Castlehill (Royal Mile). 226 3709. Daily l()am-5pni (closed 25 Dec; open I Jan. ll~()plll). Pick up a pedestrian in your hand at this attraction. which gives visitors a real-time. 360 degree image of the city. There is also an exhibition devoted to holographs and photography on the lower floors.

Deep-Sea Word

North Queensferi‘y ()I383 4 l I880. Daily l()am—6pm (closed 25 Dec). £6. I 5 (£3.55—£4.25). Famous for its underwater tunnel. which brings visitors lace-to-face

112 THE llST I7 Dec l998~7 Jan 1999

with a huge collection of fish native to our coastlines. Deep-Sea World also houses an Amazonian rain forest display. a touch-pool and educational facilities. Expert staff are on hand to answer questions and. thanks to the latest communications technology. visitors can even talk to divers as they feed the animals in the aquarium.

Edinburgh Castle

225 9846. Daily 9.30am—5pm (closed 25 & 26 Dec; open I Jan I lam—5pm). £6

I .50—£4.50). Although much of the castle's medieval character was lost when it was converted into barracks in the l9th century. continuing excavations aim to redress this. Other attractions include James lV's famous cannon. Mons Meg. lots of military silverware and. ofcourse. The Stone Of Destiny. used to crown Scottish kings since time began.

Gorgie City Farm

5l Gorgie Road. 337 4202. Daily 9.30am—4pm (closed 25 Dec; | Jan). Free. This city farm. set tip in 1982 on a derelict council rubbish collection site. is now home to a host of farmyard animals and equipment. as well as organic and herb gardens. Other facilities include an education centre. cafe and workshop. and there is a full programme of supervised activities for children and adults.

Mary King's Close Tours

Meet at Mercat Cross (beside St Giles' Cathedral). 225 659I. Daily. times vary (closed 25 Dec). £5 (£4). Advanced booking necessary. Literally. a trip to Edinburgh's undenvorld: Mary King's Close is part of a now subterranean network of streets. walled off in the middle ages duritig an outbreak of the plague. Visit the restored (or at least made stable and safe) street and hear the horror stories of the residents left to die.

housed a sad and lonely Mary Queen of Scots' for a time. but with a spectacular view ofArthur's Seat. and magnificent gardens to look at. it's hard to feel too sorry for her.

Portobello Swim Centre

57 Promenade. 669 6888. Mon-Fri 7am—9pm; Sat 8: Stiii 9am—4pm (closed 25. 26 & 3| Dec; l & 3 Ian). A swimming pool in the traditional Victorian mould (it was originally opened in I90 I ). Portobello Swim Centre has recently benefited from a complete refit. courtesy of council and lottery money. It now houses up-to-the-minute sports facilities as well as a pool and an authentic Turkish Bath.

Rosslyn Chapel

Roslin. 440 2 l59. Mon—Sat I0am—5pm: Sun noon—4piii (closetl 24. 25 & 31 Dec; l Jan). Free. What you get out of a trip to Rosslyn Chapel may depend on your familiarity with books of the conspiracy theorist genre: a stronghold for the Knights Teniplar'.’; proof of pre- Colunibian trans-Atlantic traveli’; even the final resting place of the Holy Grail?! What is certain though is that the chapel contains enough historically fascinating carvings and symbols to hold the attention of even the most determined philistine.

Royal Botanic Garden

lnverleith Row. 552 7I7l. Daily 9.30am—4pm (closed 25 Dec & l Jan). Free. but donations welcome. A sea of tranquillity in the hubbub of the city. the Botanic Garden is home to a wealth of flora and fauna from all over the world. The glasshouses give you the opportunity to check out tropical plants as well ~ the agave. fermented to make tequila. and the elephants foot yam. which gave rise to the contraceptive pill. are two of the more interesting specimens. The site also hosts art exhibitions. horticultural courses and various countryside events. including daily guided walks.

Midlothian Ski Centre

Hillend. 445 4433. Mon—Sat 9.30am—9pni: Sun 9.30ain—7pm (closed 25 & 26 Dec; I Jan). £6 (£4). Europe's longest artificial ski slope is the perfect place to learn or hone ski-ing and snowboarding skills. The centre also houses a competitively prices ski repair and maintenance facility.

Museum of Childhood

42 High Street. Edinburgh. 529 4 I42. Mon—Sat I0ani—5pin (closed 25 8; 26 Dec: l & 2 Jan). Founded in I955. the museum has five public galleries with all manner of archive material and old toys relating to childhood through the ages. Also showing: Thank You Fur The Final ll" liar. See Edinburgh Art listings. page l07.

Museum Of Scotland

Chambers Street. 247 42 I9. Mon—Sat l()am—5pm (Tue 8pm); Sun noon—5pm (closed 25 Dec). £3 (£l.50: children free). This is the newest addition to our national museums and the only one dedicated solely to Scotland's history and heritage. The building contains five thematically-aii'anged exhibitions. moving from pre-history. through the Industrial Revolution. to the present day. at which point national heroes such as Billy Connolly and Elaine C. Smith get involved.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Royal Mile. 556 l()96. Daily 9.30ani—4.45pin (closed 25 8.: 26 Dec; open I .Ian IIam-«4pm). £5.30 (£2.6(L£3.70; family ticket £I3). Starting life as a l3th century abbey. the palace has evolved into a sumptuous regal residence crammed full of paintings and artefacts dating back primarily to the

l7th century. The tower apartments

Royal Museum of Scotland 2 Chambers Street. 247 42 I9. Mon—Sat I0am—5pm; Sun noon—5pm; Tue I0am—8pin (closed 25 Dec). £3 (£l.50). A l9th century museum housing international collections of natural history. geology. science. technology and the decorative arts. plus two permanent exhibitions: .-\i'! ck /Il(/!l\ll'\' and The Irv ll’ii (iallerv. Also showing: ('lii/ieie lxlt'r/llt’l'. I’linlugi'a/i/iit‘ Div/i/ar.

Jeii'ellery Moves and Making Weaver. See Edinburgh Art listings. page 107.

Royal Observatory Visitor Centre Blackford Hill. 668 8405. Mon—Sat lOam—Spm; Sun noon—5pm (closed 24 Dec—Sat 2 Jan). £2.50 (£I.50). This attraction is a mine of information on the heavens. from the latest interactive CD- Roms on space and astronomy to the observatory's ongoing work in Hawaii and Australia. Public star-gazing sessions take place every Friday night from October to March.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Ocean Drive. Leith. 555 5566. Daily l0.30am—6pm (last entry 4.30pm closed 25 Dec). £6.50 (£3.75—£5). The former royal yacht has recently opened its doors to members of the public after a £25 million refit. The on-shore visitor centre contains historical information on the boat and its furnishings while. on the yacht itself. members of the public can have a good nosey round the royals' former quarters.

Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre

354 Castlehill (Royal Mile). Edinburgh. 220 ()44 I. Daily 9.30am—430pm (closed 25 Dec; open I Jan llam-5pm). £4.95 (£2.50—£3.50). Take a romp through the traditions and history of your national drink at this fully interactive attraction. Highlights include a lesson from a ghost iiiaster-blender. a barrel-car ride through whisky history and a well-stocked bar in which to test your newly-acquired expertise.

Witchery Tour

Meet outside The Witchery restaurant. Castlehill (Royal Mile). 2256745. £7 (£4). Times vary. call for details (closed 25 Dec). Advanced booking necessary. Take a trip to the dark side of Edinburgh with your guide. Adam Lyal deceased. who will regale you with stories of torture. murder and witchcraft - but watch out for ghosts and ghouls lurking in the shadows.

Writers' Museum

I.ady Stair's House. Lady Stair‘s Close. Edinburgh. 529 490l (closed 25 & 26 Dec; I 84 2 Jan). Mon—Sat 10am-5pm. A treasure-house of items relating to three of Scotland's most famous writers: Robert Louis Stevenson. Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Also showing: Travels Willi A Drinker. See Edinburgh Art listings. page 107.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AT HOPETOUN HOUSE Fri 18-Sun 20 Dec. noon-6pm. £2 (£1). Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, 331 2451. This is your last chance before the big day to take the tension out of your

Christmas purchasin with a stately

stroll around the grandeur of

Hopetoun House. A ditional highlights for the weekend are magician Scott Lovat at 1pm on Sat 19 Dec while Christopher Trotter from Scotland’s Larder will be signing copies of his tome The Scottish Cookery Book and demonstrating a sample of his recipes on Sun 20 Dec. The shop, tea-room and restaurant will also will be open for your pleasure.