(EDIT: from 2012. For information about Christmas markets in 2013... click here) Some of my most popular blog entries have been those I've written about Christmas in Stockholm, so I guess it is time to write about what is happening this year in Stockholm! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need more detailed information, stop by and talk to me or drop me a line.
Main X-mas tree at Skeppsbron
The holiday season kicks off this Saturday, November 24th. This is the day the official Stockholm Christmas lights are lit and decorations revealed. 30 streets and squares in downtown Stockholm are decorated with thousands of LED lights. Last year was the first time the city made a real concerted effort to go "all out" for the holidays. There were some great decorations last year... should be fun to see what they come up with this year. Click here for map of the lights. While you are in the downtown area, stop by the NK Department Store to get a little more holiday cheer. Not only does this store have the best and most famous Christmas window decorations in Sweden, it is also the place to see Santa! He will be at NK every Friday-Sunday until December 13th when he also adds weekdays to his schedule (last day December 23rd).
Christmas market at Stortorget
This Saturday is also when the first Christmas markets open for business! In main square (Stortorget) in Gamla Stan you will find the Old Town Christmas Market, open daily from 11am to 6pm until December 23rd. In Skansen park and open-air museum, located on Djurgården, another Christmas Market opens. This one is very traditional and open between 10am and 4pm every Saturday & Sunday until the 16th of December. Skansen is also a great place to experience other Swedish Christmas traditions! Another large Christmas market opens on November 30th in Kungsträdgården park and will be open daily from 11am to 6pm until December 22nd. Kungsträdgården is right next to the above mentioned NK and is also where you will find the outdoor skating rink. Christmas markets in Stockholm are great places to pick up traditional Swedish holiday decorations, foods and handicrafts as well as to try glögg (Swedish hot spiced wine).
Ice skating at Kungsträdgården
Other Swedish Christmas traditions you should be aware of... many restaurants serve a traditional Christmas smörgåsbord called julbord, where a cornucopia of Swedish holiday goodies are laid out buffet style, and nothing else. This is a real treat and should be tried, but once is probably enough and you might want to find out which restaurants don't serve julbord to get a little variety. One great option is Strömma's Julbord boat cruises through the archipelago. A nice way to combine julbord and sightseeing! Then there is the whole Lucia celebration on December 13th (as well as Nobel Prize ceremonies). I will write more bout this later, but in the meantime you can read what I wrote last year to get an idea.
Julbord on Strömma boat cruise
Finally, two things just for fun, you have the popular gingerbread house competition at the Architecture Museum, right next to the Modern Art Museum located on Skeppsholmen (on display between Nov 28th and Jan 6th). And... got a craving for candy canes (polkagris in Swedish)? Stop by the Polkapojkarna in the Old Town, where they make the treats in front of your eyes, and get your fill! Merry Christmas!