« View all news

Part of Capital’s Christmas Cultural Calendar for 70 years

Following tradition, Edinburgh Steiner School prepares to welcome thousands of people through its gates this November for its annual parent-organised Christmas Market, traditionally held on the weekend before the start of Advent. Tickets are now on sale.


In 1955, parent Dorothy Wight, along with a trustee Tom Kemp and a teacher, Werner Glas, took the modest-sized Christmas Market from the School grounds – where it had been hosted for the previous two years – to town, hiring the Assembly Rooms to host a festive market that would showcase the School’s creative richness. It grew from there, offering an antidote to the commercialism that often surrounds this time of year.


Louisa Dorothy Cooper Wight, commonly called Dot, deserves a special place in the annals of the School as the first parent to put the name of her son, Denis, on the register of enrolled pupils. Her name heads – as the only lady – the 1947 Memorandum of the Association of the Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School Trust, a body of seven parents “who shall remain in office until death or retiral”. And this trust in the education she held for life, peacefully passing away in 1990.


Having signed as ‘housewife’, the School knew her to be a woman of many wide-ranging interests, talents, accomplishments and achievements, becoming a teacher in the School a few years after taking the Christmas Market to the heart of Edinburgh. The annual Market is now a staple of Edinburgh’s cultural experiences during this festive season.


Returning to Spylaw Road some years later, it attracts more than 2,000 family, friends, neighbours and the wider community through the campus gates in Merchiston.


Steiner schools have a reputation for encouraging crafty subjects alongside more traditional classes, so expect an emphasis on handmade arts and crafts (using natural materials and eco products). The School grounds transform overnight to offer a magical day of stalls, beautiful stocking gifts, mulled wine, workshops like beeswax candle dipping, King Winter’s Enchanted Forest, Pocket Lady, puppet shows, holistic therapies, raffle, carol singing and lots of homemade food.


Like every nonprofit, Edinburgh Steiner School Trust depends on the philanthropic support of the people who care about our school and our mission. And like every independent school, tuition alone does not support everything we do to educate the children of our school. The Christmas Market is the School’s largest parent-led fundraiser.


Maintaining financial sustainability is of crucial importance to the School as it allows it to fulfill its core role of providing education to pupils and enables it to undertake additional educational activities, such as the innovative Integrated Education qualifications, now on the Ofqual-register. Over the past seven years, ESS has also invested over £1million in the cultural heritage of the city, converting two 19th Century coach house into 21st Century curriculum spaces. This was made possible by legacies left to the School, as well as money allocated by the Christmas Market Investment Group, raised through the generosity of parents across the School rolling up their sleeves behind cafes, stalls, activities, the finance room and more each year to bring this magical day to fruition and raise thousands for the School.


Fundraising efforts are now underway to raise a further £500,000 to add a purpose-built Seedlings Building to our campus. The annual Christmas Market hopes to raise £50,000 towards the Growing Spaces Project over the coming years.  This year, 40% of proceeds will be going towards (Read: CMIG pledges around £40k+ to realise 12th Waldorf classroom by adding a purpose-built Early Years building in 2023).


Follow the Christmas Market updates on our dedicated Facebook page here.


View the day’s programme as it unfolds on the School Calendar: Christmas Market 2023 (Saturday, 25th November)