Arts & Culture

A Fairy Tale Christmas in Copenhagen

Few people celebrate Christmas with as much vim and merriment as the Danes. After all, Greenland is part of Denmark and, consequently, home to Julemanden, or the “Yule Man”. Venerable Christmas traditions in Denmark pass from one generation to the next and, indeed, make Copenhagen a superlative destination for the season.

Magnificent, incomparably magnificent” were the words the famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen used to describe Christmas in Copenhagen. Every December, the city comes alive with millions of lights blinking all over town, a massive Christmas tree in front of mayor’s house and the biggest Christmas market in Scandinavia.

Image by Agent Smith

Copenhagen’s century-old Tivoli Gardens turns into a magnificent Christmas village between November and December. Among other gems for grown-ups and children alike, the seasonal theme park features ice sculptures, toboggan runs, lights and decorations galore, tasty traditional treats and pony rides. Over 70 stalls offer crafts, works of art, gifts, souvenirs and plenty of food and drink.

Image by Erik Kristensen

Another great location for some Christmas cheer is the Nyhavn Christmas Market, held every year at Nyhavn, the superb harbour area of Copenhagen. Numerous stalls line the scenic harbourfront and sell all the usual goods to spice up the holiday. Keep yourself warm with a cup of hot gløgg (mulled wine) and some delicious apple dumplings. For environmentally-friendly travellers, the Ecological Christmas Market features a large variety of handmade and eco-friendly items and foods.

Image by charley1965

The cornucopia of dishes on the Danish Christmas table often includes items like duck with red cabbage, prunes and potatoes, glazed ham, roast pork, cold marinated salmon, pâté, herring and a variety of cheeses. At the end of the meal, a special rice pudding is often served, topped with a cherry sauce. Traditional drinks include gløgg, akvavit and various beers, some of which are brewed specifically with the holiday season in mind.

As with any big city around the holidays, top restaurants in the Danish capital, like René Redzepi’s Noma for example, book fast. Check with your hotel in Copenhagen for restaurant recommendations.

Image by Nenyaki

In terms of holiday shopping in Copenhagen, it’s impossible to ignore the longest pedestrian retail street in Europe. Strøget is a magnificent car-free zone that contains the most upmarket shops in Denmark. From the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory to Illums Bolighus, the eminent pulse point of the city is the top destination for wow-factor Christmas presents and stocking-stuffers.

Another splendid location in Copenhagen during the holiday season is City Hall Square, on the west end of Strøget. The perpetual congregation spot is the heart of the city and rightfully so, gets a Christmas makeover every December.

If the cold weather has not worn you down, head to the Frilandsmuseet (Open Air Museum) north of Copenhagen. A veritable time-warp, the museum resuscitates 200 years of Christmas traditions. As always, gløgg and apple dumplings are on the menu.

Image by Agent Smith

Image by RubberGoat

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