Last Minute Christmas Gifts from Camera Obscura

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  The decorations are up, the carols are sung and you’ve wraped the presents for everyone and … HORROR!  You forgot to get a gift for someone.  Be it a friend, aunt, cousin, grandparent, we have all done it.  But never fear … your friendly neighbourhood Camera Obscura Gift Shop is here to save the day with these last minute present ideas….

Heat Changing Mugs

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Tis a cold time of year, and nothing heats you up better than a nice hot drink.  But in a heat changing mug, you can see just how warm you are getting. Be a matching pair, or family, with buy one and get one half price.

Rudolph mug

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Christmas kitsch at its classiest.  Perfect to drink from while sporting your best Christmas jumper.

Stocking fillers

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Christmas stockings are one of our dearest, and most joyous, Christmas traditions.  Finding items small and fun enough to fill them is a nightmare.  We have that problem solved with 3 for 2 on all festive toys.

Worry Eaters


Christmas can be stressful, but so is the rest of the year.  Feed your worries to a worry eater and let them fade away.  Chosen as Toy of the Year 2014.



Be the host with the most when the family are round for Christmas dinner.  Rather than having just crackers, have some Facemats to make everyone smile at even the worst of jokes.

Gnaw chocolate


Christmas is not the same without eating too much chocolate.  So let us help you with buy one get one free on artisan Gnaw chocolate in many tantalising and sensational flavours

Duck Fizz!

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Prepare for that grand Hogmanay party with a ducktacular twist in the shape of duck fizz.

And remember … if you spend over £25, you get a free iPhone 5 case!


Shop Opening Hours:

Standard winter opening hours are 10am – 6pm every day.

Wednesday 24th December: 10am – 5pm

Thursday 25th December: Closed

Friday 26th December: 11am – 6pm

Saturday 27th – Wednesday 31st December: 10am – 8pm

Thursday 1st January: 11am – 8pm

Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th January: 10am – 8pm

Monday 5th January onwards: 10am – 6pm




Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest ’15: How do babies’ senses develop?

Humans are born with all five senses virtually fully developed. However, slight changes and improvements happen to these senses as a baby develops and grows and this happens at a different rate for each of the five senses.  For example, by eight months a baby will have developed an understanding of a full range of sound frequencies, but it takes until the age of two for a child to develop adult perception in terms of vision. Sensory development can refer to the improvement of the five senses but it also refers to how a child reacts to the input from these senses and how they then form an appropriate response.

So, how does this all fit in with Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions?

participantWell, believe it or not, babies can be fooled by illusions from as young as five months! In 2005 the University of Bonn decided to see at what age babies begin to decipher information on distance based on perspective. The test was simple, place two toys on a chessboard background which was drawn to look like it was receding away from the babies. The toys were placed at different heights to make it look like one toy was closer to the baby than the other.  The researchers had worked out that a baby would naturally grab the toy that was closest to them. The test was repeated several times with 20 seven month old babies and 20 five month old babies, all of whom had one eye covered; this improved the perspective of the drawing and helped the babies make a more informed choice about which toy was “closer”.  The toy that was placed lower on the drawing, and therefore looked closer, was the favourite with 19 out of the 20 seven month old babies and, even more surprisingly, with 16 out of the 20 five month olds. Until this experiment was carried out, it was believed that babies could not process information on perspective.  Researchers now believe that the ability to process this information could kick in even earlier.

So, what better place to bring your little one than to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions? We’ve been fooling adults for the last 160 years…let’s see how your toddler can handle our illusions!

The event will run from the 12th-18th of January, so make sure you don’t miss out!

To book tickets call 0131 226 3709.

You can also get 20% off your ticket for the event by completing our Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest survey:



University Of Bonn. “Even Babies Can Have Optical Illusions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2005.

Camera Obscura’s Toddlerfest Tickets: the perfect Christmas present!

Looking for a last minute gift for someone? Why not buy tickets for Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest! Buy tickets for the event before the end of the year and get them at 2014 prices.

Adult Ticket

With workshops from Edinburgh University’s Psychology department, new exhibits just for little ones and a quiet room for parents to take some time out and refuel, Toddler Fest is a great day out for you and your little one(s).

The event will run from the 12th-18th of January, so make sure you don’t miss out!

You can buy tickets for yourself or as a present at 2014 prices by calling 0131 226 3709.

You can also get 20% off your ticket for the event by completing our Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest survey:


Cameron explores….a Christmas in Catalonia

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Bon Nadal!

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Kike….one of our maintenance team



I am in Catalonia in Spain.

Did you know one of our maintenance team is from Catalonia?!

Spain is like Britain because there are a lot of different regions with their own traditions.

In Spain, many people are Christian and some act out the Nativity story.  These are called Pastorets, or El Pessebre.  I watched one.  It was very entertaining.


Christmas here is very different.  The main meal is eaten on Christmas Eve, and presents are not delivered by Santa Claus on Christmas Day, but by the Wise men on Epiphany (6th January).

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On Epiphany Catalans eat Roscón or tortell, a ring shaped roll filled with cream, or chocolate or even a bean!  Whoever finds the bean has to buy the Roscon for next year.  I think I ate the bean!


I was given a Tió de Nadal or Caga tio in Catalonia.  It is a small log with a big smiley face.  From 8th December people give the log food and a blanket to keep it warm, and then on Christmas Day it gives out presents!  From inside the log comes sweets and nuts.  I see why Caga tio means ‘pooping log.’

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I loved the Catalan Christmas, and will look after my Caga tio always.

All this travelling has been fun, but in every place I have learnt that it is important to be with friends and family.  I am going to travel home now to spend Christmas with my Camera Obscura family.



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Cameron explores….a Christmas in Latvia and Lithuania


Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus!  Linksmų Kalėdų!

I am visiting two countries.  Latvia and Lithuania.

Although they are very close to each other, they celebrate Christmas very differently.

One of our guides is from Latvia!!


IMG_1452 - smallIn Latvia, Ziemassvētku vecītis delivers presents.  He puts them under the Christmas tree, but unlike in Scotland, they can be opened on Christmas Eve!  I would like to get presents a day early.  But some presents are hidden, and to get them children must say a poem or sing a song, or even dance!


What would my talent be?!

On Christmas day, Latvians eat peas with bacon sauce, peas, cabbage, sausage, and bacon rolls.  Afterwards they eat gingerbread.  It sounds yummy.


Latvia had the world’s first Christmas tree!  It was in the capital, Riga, in 1510.  I love Christmas Trees, especially the ones with lots of lights.


In Lithuania, a Christmas tree, or fir tree, is called Egle, which is the name of one of our guides!  Egle (trees, not our guide) are decorated with paper straws made into beautiful patterns.

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Egle…one of our tour guides!



Christmas Eve is the most important day in Lithuania.  Lithuanians have a huge meal called Kūčios.  It has no meat!  I never had a vegetarian Christmas meal before.  It was very exciting.  My favourite was kūčiukai, small pasteries soaked in poppy milk.

After the Kūčios, Kalėdų Senelis (Grandfather Christmas) visits and delivers presents!

Latvia and Lithuania celebrate Christmas very differently.  I wonder how my next Christmas will go?



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Festive Opening Hours at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

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Planning a trip to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions over the festive period? We are open every day except Christmas Day and we have extended our opening hours between Christmas and New Year so there’s plenty of time to fit in a visit this holiday season!

There are a few variations to our opening hours though, so do double check them below to make sure you don’t arrive to a closed door.

Standard winter opening hours are 10am – 6pm every day.

Wednesday 24th December: 10am – 5pm

Thursday 25th December: Closed

Friday 26th December: 11am – 6pm

Saturday 27th – Wednesday 31st December: 10am – 8pm

Thursday 1st January: 11am – 8pm

Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th January: 10am – 8pm

Monday 5th January onwards: 10am – 6pm


Additional Information:

Please allow two hours for your visit.  The actual Camera Obscura show – a 15 minute presentation in the Camera Obscura chamber – is light dependent and the last show is, therefore, at 3pm at this time of year. But don’t worry, if you arrive after the last show has sold out we can either give you an ‘exhibitions only’ ticket at a discounted price (we have 5 floors of exhibitions!), or we can give you a ‘readmit ticket’ so you can explore all the exhibitions then come back to see the show the following day.  Also, if you come late in the day or simply run out of time, we can give you a free re-admission ticket to come back the next day.  Lastly, your ticket is valid all day, so you can come and go as you please, all day,  till late: just ask for a hand stamp as you leave.

Cameron explores….a Christmas in Canada!

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Joyeux Noël!

I am in Quebec.  Quebec is a part of Canada where they speak French.  The French speaking Canadians here are called Québécois


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In Quebec, it is very cold and there is a lot of snow.  I love it!  Because of the snow, many people decorate their houses with lights.  I have never seen so many lights.  It is beautiful.

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On Christmas Eve, family and friends get together for a big meal!  Everyone brings a different dish.  Because a lot of people hunt in Canada, they eat a lot of meat, like tourtière (a meat pie), cipaille (a meat and pastry pie with many layers of different meat and pastry) and ragout de pattes de cochon (pork stew with meat balls).

They also have tasty sweets like bûche de Noël (a Christmas chocolate log) and sucre à la crème (a bit like Scottish fudge and tablet mixed together).  I brought some Scottish shortbread.  I hope they like it.

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In Quebec people get presents twice!  On Christmas Eve there is a secret Santa where everyone picks a name from a hat and gets that person a present, but no one knows who got who, then it’s off to Church for Messe de Minuit, Midnight Mass. And then, on Christmas Day, Père Noël  delivers presents too.  I like the idea of presents on two days!

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Cameron explores….a Christmas in South Korea!

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Merry Christmas! Or should I say “Jeulgaeun krismas doeseyo  즐거운 크리스마스 되세요”

I am in South Korea!



There are a lot of lights and decorations everywhere, especially in the shops.

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Children are given presents  by Santa Kullosu (산타 클로스) on Christmas Eve.  Like in Scotland, children hang stockings up on Christmas Eve for Santa Kullosu, but unlike in Scotland, he can wear blue!



In Scotland, a Christmas cake is often a fruit cake.  In South Korea it is a sponge cake filled with cream.  It is very yummy.  Sometimes they have ice cream cake as well!

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Christmas in Korea is slightly different, but I recognise a lot of it too.  I like the blue Santa Claus, he matches my jumper!



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Cameron explores….a Christmas in Australia!

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I am in Australia!



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Alyce…one of our staff!


One of our staff members is from Australia….




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Australia is much bigger than Edinburgh.  It is also very hot. Because Australia is on  the other side of the world, Christmas happens in summer.



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They eat cold food and often spend Christmas day outside because it is very warm.  Pavalova is a favourite.



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They get presents from Santa Claus, but he sometimes comes on a surfboard. And snowmen are slightly different here!…


Australian Christmas is very similar to Scottish Christmas.  Everyone is very friendly to me, but it is very hot in my jumper!



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Cameron explores….a Christmas in Nigeria!


Merry Christmas! or…. “barka dà Kirsìmatì!”,  “E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!”,  Jabbama be salla Kirismati!”,  “E keresimesi Oma!”, “Idara ukapade isua!'”,  “Iselogbe!'”

I am in Nigeria!  Nigeria has a lot of different languages.  Above is Merry Christmas in Hausa , Yoruba, Fulanik, Igbo (Ibo), Ibibio and Edo.  I hope I can learn them all!

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Nigeria is in Africa, so it is also very hot.  But, like in Edinburgh, many people spend Christmas with family.  A lot of people travel for Christmas.

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The Christmas food is very tasty.  Meat is not just turkey but also beef, goat, mutton or chicken.  There was also yams, rice, vegetable salad and stews.  I was very full after eating everything.

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A lot of people have a large party on Christmas Eve that lasts the whole night!  And then they go to Church on Christmas morning.  I liked the singing.

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The Nigerian Christmas is a lot of fun.



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