There is no better way to get in the festive spirit than to attend a Christmas market and get your fill of mulled wine and handcrafted gifts.
Scandinavia (and the surrounding area) arguably has the best offerings in Europe as it often snows in the winter period adding to that Christmas feeling. If you're making some deliveries, have some spare time and not sure where to start... read on. We’re here to be your guide on the ones that are worth your time this season.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, has possibly the most picturesque Christmas market in Europe. Not only is snow very common in December, providing that traditional White Christmas feel, it is also home to one of the largest Christmas tree displays in Europe. The tree has been set up in Tallinn’s Town Hall Square since 1441, making it the first Christmas tree to ever be put on display in Europe.
Local merchants offer traditional Estonian Christmas cuisine, from black pudding and sour cabbage to gingerbread and hot Christmas drinks, as well as various arts and crafts from handmade pottery to wooden toys. Tallinn Christmas market also caters to children, with a merry-go-round and Santa Claus.
This year, the market will be open from 16th November 2018 - 7th January 2019, 10am - 7pm every day.
Helsinki is the capital of Finland and is often colloquially referred to as the ‘Christmas City'. With lights and decorations along the main street of Aleksanterinkatu, the city of Helsinki is completely transformed for the festive season. All of the local businesses (especially in the Aleksanterinkatu area) get involved in a friendly shop window war, seeing who can outdo the other in their extravagant displays. Despite the subzero temperatures, there can still be a warmth experienced from the busy shops and readily available mulled wine or ‘Glögi’ as its called in Finland. Glögi is a traditional Christmas drink, made from spiced wine with a sprinkling of almonds and raisins and often a splash of vodka.
Helsinki Christmas Market opens right in the heart of town in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The market consists of over 120 stalls selling handicrafts, lanterns, Christmas decorations, food and hot drinks and is the perfect place to pick up a Christmas present for your nearest and dearest.
This year, the market will be open from the 1st December to the 22nd, with opening times of 11am - 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am - 7pm on weekends.
The capital of Norway, Oslo, puts on as good a Christmas offering as any of its neighbours. Famed for reindeers and scenic, colourful streets, it is the perfect setting for a Christmas market. With a high chance of snow and frosty conditions, you will really feel immersed in the Christmas spirit.
There are many different markets to choose from in Oslo, some specialising in more traditional Norwegian offerings, but perhaps the most universally appealing is ‘Christmas in Winterland’, located on Karl Johan’s Gate at Spikersuppa park. It features a large public ice rink as well as hundreds of stalls, offering traditional food and drink and handmade gifts for all the family. The market is a stones-throw away from the famous National Theater and Royal Palace, meaning you’re right in the middle of the best landmarks in Oslo. Live reindeers, a merry-go-round and even a ferris wheel are the main attractions of this market and are sure to satisfy all your festive needs!
This year, the market will be open from the 17th November until the 30th December 2018, from 10am - 8pm, except when closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Winter can be long and dark in Sweden, with the sun in some parts not rising for weeks! That’s why Gothenburg has invented ‘Julmys’ which is a unique Swedish combination of ancient Nordic traditions and modern customs. As for Gothenburg's Christmas market offerings, they are currently the hosts of the largest Christmas market in Sweden, despite not being the capital city!
Like Oslo, there are a number of smaller, niche markets available in Gothenburg but the main one, held at Liseberg Amusement Park is probably your best bet if you want to get all your festive shopping and activites done in one place. Boasting more than 5 million Christmas lights as well as being a fully functioning theme park there is plenty to do at Liseberg Christmas market, from a live ice ballet show to a treasure hunt in the Medieval village. This offering is especially suitable for families, with plenty to do to keep everyone entertained for hours. If your preference is for high quality, designer gifts and shopping then Liseberg tower is also open for the Christmas period where you can find anything from big-name brands to more local, high quality merchants.
The Liseberg Christmas Market is open until the 30th December 2018 from 1pm - 9pm on most days.
Last, but not least, is Copenhagen. Copenhagen (the capital of Denmark) is the epitome of ‘cosy’, or as the locals call it, ‘hygge’, in the winter period. With a high chance of snow and twinkly lights on every street, it’s sure to get even the most grinch-like amongst us to feel a little bit of festive warmth.
Like many other cities, there are plenty of different markets to choose from but if you only have time for one, we would recommend the Nyhavn Christmas market. It is held on the breathtaking Nyhavn harbour, a focal tourist attraction in Copenhagen, which offers the best variety of Christmas related activities and products in the city. A highlight of the market is it’s setting; along the water, offering a picturesque and unique experience, as well as the always welcome mulled wine and handmade gifts.
Copenhagen also offers many festive attractions such as Tivoli Gardens, a large theme park located in the city centre, which is usually transformed in the Christmas period and features a twilight tour of the gardens which are showered with Christmas lights and festive decorations.
The Nyhavn Christmas market will be running from 9th November 2018 - 23rd December 2018 this year and Tivoli gardens will be running it’s Christmas activities from 17th November - 31st December 2018.
Christmas Markets Near the Ports - Part 2, coming soon...