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Best winter holidays in Stockholm

posted 30 Dec 2014, 03:02 by Elena ACCONU   [ updated 30 Dec 2014, 04:29 by Janna Acco ]

Walking through the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm, where open traditional Christmas markets that take place here over the centuries, you feel as if you have become a participant of a scene from Charles Dickens story,“A Christmas Carol in Prose". The air is filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts, ginger cookies and mulled wine.

Stockholm and Sweden host the oldest and warmest Christmas traditions in Scandinavia. You certainly should come here and feel the joy of Christmas that spreads throughout this city.

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We will give you some tips on what's going on in Stockholm for Christmas - including Christmas music, choirs, Santas, Christmas lights, ice skating, Christmas shows and other things to enjoy. There is a lot to do during the entire Christmas season.

It is nice to stroll around the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and pop into a cafe and have a cup of hot chocolate. From here - go ice skating in Kungsträdgården or go to the Christmas market on the Main Square (Stortorget) in Gamla Stan. For really nice gifts, do your Christmas shopping on Queen Street (Drottninggatan).

Your first tip is to visit the Stockholm Tourist Office to pick up information about what is going on in the town during Christmas. You`ll find the Stockholm Visitor Center in the city center at Sergels Torg 3 in Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.

Stockholm Christmas Walking Tour

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Walk through the city is the easiest and low cost way to see Stockholm with its beautiful Christmas decorations and lights. From November 24th, the official Stockholm Christmas lights are lit and decorations revealed. Thirty streets and squares in downtown Stockholm are decorated with thousands of lights.

Walk around Stortorget - Gamla Stan’s main square and the oldest square in Stockholm. Check out Järntorget, the small square that was the city’s most important trade center in the 1300s, and Brända Tomten – the triangular-shaped public square that connects many of the Old Town’s alleyways. 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 plus he also adds weekdays to his schedule (last day December 23rd). Keep going on to Stortorget, where you can rest with a steaming hot mug of spicy mulled wine, known as glögg, and try pepparkakor the traditional gingerbread cookies that are given as Christmas treats.

Christmas markets

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There are many Christmas markets on the islands of Stockholm.

Gamla Stan / Old Town (Stortorget): Daily 22 Nov - 23 Dec 2014.
The Christmas market on Stortorget (the Main Square) in Old Town is an old tradition. As early as 1523 Gustav Vasa decided that it would be a Christmas market on the Main Square, but only with Swedish goods for sale. After hundreds of years, the Christmas market is still a nice tradition here in Old Town. Since 1961, the market has looked almost the same. Here you'll find candy, sausage, fish, mulled wine, gingerbread, hats, mittens, crafts, cheeses, spices, jewelry and much more.

Daily. Hours 11-18

More information: www.stortorgetsjulmarknad.se

From Gamla Stan you can take the boat to Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum. There is also a fabulous Christmas market in Skansen and various activities you can take part in, including traditional candle making. Also Sweden’s most famous St. Lucia’s day celebrations take place every year in December in Skansen.

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Skansen:  At Bollnästorget in Skansen, you´ll find around seventy stands filled with Swedish handicrafts, sweets and Christmas food. The tradition to celebrate Christmas at Skansen began at 1903. Cozy Skansen is full of Christmas decorations. Here you can enjoy Christmas tales by the fire at Back Mats cabin, listen to choirs singing carols, and eat Christmas dinner. After dinner, dance around the Christmas tree, find presents at the local Christmas market, or ride a pony. It is also possible to listen to advent music in Seglora church while eating saffron buns and drink mulled wine.

Opened for Christmas, 29 Nov 2014 - 6 Jan 2015.

Saturdays and Sundays at 10-16.

More information: http://www.skansen.se/enwww.skansen.se

Kungsträdgården:  At Kungsträdgården, you´ll find a nice Christmas market where you can buy  Christmas gifts such as textile and wooden handicrafts, sausage, fish, hats, mittens, etc. You will also find food and drinks here. Close by, is an ice rink where you can go skating to music.
Daily. Hours 11- 18.

More information: www.kungstradgarden.se

Ice Scating

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Vasaparken contains a large and popular ice-skating rink that is maintained several times a week and open between 8 am - 9 pm weekdays, and 10 am – 9 pm on weekends. This is a mechanically-frozen ice rink, so the quality is not as dependent on weather conditions, as natural ice rinks. It is open between November and March. Note that it is necessary to bring your own skates.

The Kungsträdgården ice rink is open from Nov 1st to the first week of March. A cafe is available at the Kungsträdgården Christmas market that offers mulled wine, coffee and snacks at. Skates can be rented. Closed on Christmas Eve.

Julbord

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Another Swedish Christmas tradition that you should be aware of... many restaurants serve a traditional Christmas smörgåsbord called julbord. Julbord translates as ‘Christmas Table’. It usually consists of several courses.

The first course consists of the cured salmon, pickled herring and eel in sauce.

The second course of a selection consists of cold meats, such as roast beef, and julskinka (Christmas ham). Sliced Cheese, cucumbers and liver pate are often eaten on top of hard bread.

The third course of hot dishes include köttbullar (Swedish  meatballs), prinskorv (small sausages), fläskkorv (pork sausages), isterband (smoked pork and potato sausages), kåldolmar (meat stuffed cabbage rolls). Jellied pig’s feet, lutfisk -cod in white sauce, revbenspjäll (oven-roasted pork ribs) and Janssons frestelse (literally “Jansson’s Temptation”, a baked dish of matchstick potatoes layered with cream, onion and sprats). Side dishes include beetroot salad and warm stewed red cabbage.

Julbord desserts include risgrynsgröt, rice porridge sprinkled with cinnamon powder. Apparently an almond is hidden in the bowl of rice porridge and whoever finds it gets good luck. There is also a traditional saying that the one who gets the almond will get married within a year.

Julbord is a real treat and should be tried, but once is probably enough. You might want to find which restaurants don't serve julbord to get a little variety. One great option are the Strömma's Julbord boat cruises through the archipelago - a nice way to combine julbord and sightseeing!  

Gingerbread house competition

Have some fun and visit the popular gingerbread house competition at the Architecture Museum, right next to the Modern Art Museum (located on Skeppsholmen)  And... got a craving for candy canes (polkagris in Swedish)? Stop by Polkapojkarna in the Old Town, where they make the treats in front of your eyes and get your fill!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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