‘Tis the Season

November 27, 2013

Germany, Scotland, USA

It’s only a couple more days until Advent and the countdown to Christmas starts, and with many museums putting on fun seasonal activities I thought I’d highlight some of my favourites during December. Obviously I can’t make listings for all cities and countries around the world, so I’m focusing on the three places I know best: Berlin, Edinburgh/Scotland, and Washington D.C. So, here’s what I am or would be looking forward to!


If your looking for some Christmas craft activities, at the Deutsches Technikmuseum children can decorate their own Christmas tree ornaments made out of tin. Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December from 10:30 am to 1:30pm. No prior booking necessary but spaces are limited to 6 kids at a time. Each session lasts 30 mins to an hour. Suitable from 8 years. Included in regular museum admission.

Or the Naturkundemuseum is offering a special Christmas edition of its regular ‘Kindersonntag’, where children can create their own dinosaur Christmas tree decorations. Preceded by a short tour where kids learn about how animals survive the winter. Sunday 8th, 15th and 22nd December from 3pm to 4:30pm. Suitable from 8 years. Booking required. Costs 5 Euro.

The Naturkundemuseum are also continuing their fantasticly popular torchlight tours (which I’ve reported on before) –  a must for anyone who has ever wanted to explore a museum by night. Fridays to Sundays throughout December at 6pm for kids age 8+ and 8pm for kids age 12+ and adults. All children need to be accompanied by an adult. It costs 12 Euro for adults and 9 Euro for kids, prior booking required via besucherservice@mfn-berlin.de

If you’re looking for a museum related Christmas market to go to, then Berlin’s district of Dahlem is the place to be, with not one but two great markets on offer. The Domäne Dahlem is hosting a traditional Christmas market on all four Advent weekends, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 7pm.

For something a bit different, the ‘Museen Dahlem‘ (Museum of European Cultures, Museum of Asian Art, and Ethnological Museum) is hosting it’s ‘Markt der Kontinente‘, which started last week and continues on the next three weekends with a different continent in focus each week: Asia (30.11/01.12), America (07/08.12) and Afrika (14/15.12).

And finally, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum has announced a Christmas poetry competition. All you need to do is a pen a poem using certain Currywurst related words, and you could win one of several great prizes. If you know enough German, why not give it a shot!


In Edinburgh, I’d naturally be heading to the National Museum of Scotland this December. On 14/15 December there’s a ‘Crafternoon‘ to get in to the creative spirit, followed by the Christmas Art Competition from 27-30 December. And the Hogmanay Family Ceilidh rounds off the year on 31 December. All events are free and unticketed.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has some lovely sounding sessions for kids age 4 and up this year. On 7 December, in ‘Presents under the Tree‘ children can create some Christmas gifts inspired by the gallery from 2-4pm, and on 15 December in ‘Tales under the Tree‘ it’s time for some seasonal storytelling at 2pm, 2.45pm and 3.30pm. Both events are free and unticketed.

On the other side of town, Lauriston Castle has a whole range of Christmas inspired workshops for adults throughout December. Check out their website for full listings.

Moving away from Edinburgh, the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian is hosting a fantastic sounding ‘Home Front Christmas‘ event, where you can enjoy wartime festive activities and meet Santa on board a Boing 707. Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 December from 10am to 4pm. Included in regular museum admission.

Over on the west coast, ‘Decorate the Decades‘ at the Riverside Museum lets you can create your own Christmas bauble inspired by favourite toys over the years (23/24 December from 1:30pm to 4pm, admission free, no booking required). Or if you have toddlers to entertain, head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for a festive themed ‘Pyjama Drama‘ session about Rudolf the Purple Nose Reindeer. 28 December at 10:30am and 11:30am. For ages 3-5 years. Free admission but booking recommended. They also have a Family Ceilidh on 30 December.

Finally, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is hosting a Christmas Craft Fair on 30 November and 1 December, and on the following three weekends you can expect a surprise visit from Santa in the Burns Cottage.


As much time as I’ve spent in Washington, D.C., I’ve never been there during December, but this great list of seasonal activities sure makes me want to.

On Sunday 1 December, you can get creative at the Archives of American Art in their Holiday Card Workshop, which accompanies the exhibition ‘Handmade Holiday Cards’. 1pm to 5pm. Suitable for families.

On Saturday 7 December, see the Santa Fly In at the College Park Aviation Museum. Have your picture taken with Santa or try your hand at one of the art and craft activities. 12 noon until 4pm, with Santa arriving approx. 12:30pm. Free with regular museum admission.

Train and street car lover should head to the National Capital Trolley Museum for their ‘Holley Trolley Fest‘ to celebrate the season with toy trains and trolley rides. On all Saturdays and Sundays in December starting from the 7th, and on the first three weekends you can meet Santa too! Open from 12 noon until 5pm. Admission fees apply.

On Saturday 14 December, four historic homes in DC have teamed up to offer a very special ‘Holidays Through History‘ tour. The tour includes the Anderson House and Woodrow Wilson House in Dupont Circle, and Dumbarton House and Tudor Place in Georgetown. 4pm to 8pm. Pre-booking required.

And finally, it’s not a museum as such but it’s part of the Smithsonian, so I thought I’d include it. The National Zoo is hosting the amazing sounding ‘Zoolights‘ every evening from 29 November until 1 January (except for 24/25/31 December). Apart from a dazzling display of Christmas lights across the zoo, attractions include carousel and train rides, a nightly raffle and musical performances, and a gingerbread contest. 5pm to 9pm. Admission free.


If you live in or are travelling to any of these places over the festive period, why not check some of these out and let me know how you got on :)

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