Like clockwork, Sweden becomes a snow globe of festive activity every December. Christmas markets pop up in royal palace gardens and 10th-century streets, where ivy garlands are strung over snow-dusted stalls as the festivities begin.
The scents of gingerbread and glögg (mulled wine) fill the choir-laden air – and twinkling tree lights illuminate picturesque towns and cities. From theme park Liseberg’s 5m festive lights to ice rinks and horse-drawn carriage rides at the markets in Skansen or Malmö, these are the best Christmas markets in Sweden.
Liseberg, a huge theme park in Gothenburg, is transformed at Christmas with 5m festive lights, 700 trimmed-up trees and hoards of stalls for your fix of handicraft gifts and warm waffles. Hop on rides – including an obligatory go on the Christmas carousel – before catching spectacular light shows and ice ballet performances. Travelling with kids? Visit Santa’s workshop and the North Pole bunny in Rabbit Land. With ivy garlands and ruby bows at every turn, Liseberg makes for memorable, family-friendly fun.
Do like Buddy the Elf and throw yourself into Christmas activities at the lively Malmö Christmas Market in the 19th-century Gustav Adolf Square, Skåne. Ride the charming carousel before twirling around the sparkling ice rink – stumbling and falling are permitted. Visit Santa, jig with joy to festive music, browse Scandinavian designer gifts and soak up performances from enchanting choirs. Travelling late November? Check out the light-switch-on ceremony, featuring glittering wintry scenes that twinkle throughout the Christmas season.
For one December weekend a year, find this unique market selling wares made by students of design, fashion and visual communications at Stockholm-based Beckmans School of Design. Expect gifts lovingly made with creative flair, from the trendy and chic to traditional and cute. They’re often environmentally friendly, too, perfect for a conscious Christmas. Once you’re shopped out at the market on Brahegatan 10 near Humlegården, head to the college’s cafe for glögg and warming cinnamon and saffron rolls.
Pretty, forest-lined Taxinge Castle – 60km (37mi) from Stockholm, accessible by bus or car – is often nicknamed “cake castle” because of its huge selection of delicious, home-made sweet treats. What better time to feast on them than at Christmas? Visit the cafe, and once you’re stuffed like a stocking, hit the whimsical stalls selling dainty crafts and winter woollies. Ready your stomach for round two of Swedish festive treats, such as fried herring sandwiches and freshly roasted nuts, all in a beautiful setting.
Come December, picturesque Sigtuna is like something out of a Christmas card. Witness bells and ivy garlands strung above colourful streets, hanging shop signs coated in the snow, children greeting Santa Claus and stalls selling festive gifts, crafts and sizzling treats. On the four Sundays before Christmas, the market runs from Stortorget to the historic, 10th-century Storgatan Street, with food stalls in Drakegårdens Trädgård. It’s the most charming of festivities in Sweden – you’ll feel like you’re in an enchanting festive film.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Judi Lembke.
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