There’s no better way to embrace the magic of Christmas than to visit one of the Copenhagen Christmas markets. Copenhagen is an astonishingly atmospheric city. Add some snow, fairy-lights, lashings of tinsel and a well-placed conifer or two and it becomes a winter wonderland filled with delights.
For the Danish, their Christmas markets are as much a part of the celebrations as mince pies are to us. Expect to see live entertainment, hear carols sung by choirs, and sample delicious Danish treats. There’s plenty to see and do for those travelling with family, and couples will find exploring a Christmas market in Copenhagen a romantic and memorable experience.
Tivoli Christmas Market
Tivoli offers the most famous of Copenhagen Christmas markets, popular with locals and visitors alike. Covering over 1,200m2 you’ll find the stalls decorated as Alpine chalets, giving the whole market a villagey feel. These line the paths that snake through the Tivoli fairground, offering handmade gifts, delicate jewellery and clothing. The fairground is perfect for kids, with Christmassy carousels turning gently and faster rides for older children.
Apart from the babble of the crowds and the sounds of carollers, the first thing you’ll notice is the smell of cinnamon and sizzling meats. Food plays a huge part in Danish Christmas celebrations and there’s no better place to get to grips with the local cuisine than at a Christmas market. Look out for freshly-grilled sausages, giant Christmas biscuits, and traditional honey cakes. For a warming drink, you can either indulge in a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, or sample the Danes’ answer to mulled wine: gløgg.
Where does Santa Shop?
While Santa makes an appearance at almost every christmas market, he does tend to linger at the one held at Hajbrø Plads. It might be because of the huge variety of foods on offer; if you’re something of a foodie, follow his example and spend the day here. You’ll find everything from delicious Danish cheeses and smoked meats, gallons of gløgg, and aebleskiver, which is a cross between a doughnut and a pancake.
While the food is undoubtedly the star of the show, there are plenty of stalls selling gifts too. Decorations are a popular product, with many of them made by hand and featuring traditional embellishments. You’ll also find handmade winter woollies, thick, furry hats and gloves, and unique and delicate jewellery. For children, a ‘Christmas Village’ is set in the centre of the market, which has its own Christmas Train that you can enjoy a short ride on. If you’re looking for Father Christmas, you’ll find him in the Christmas Village ready and waiting to hear what you’d like to find under your tree this year.
Christmas with a Difference
For something a little out of the ordinary, look out for the Christiana Christmas market. Best described as an alternative to what you’d usually expect, this is the place to go if you’re something of a free spirit. With more in common with a Turkish bazaar than a traditional Copenhagen Christmas market, you’ll find the Grá Hall perfumed by incense rather than cinnamon, and typical goods for sale include handmade jewellery, ornate candle holders, decorative mirrors and a wide assortment of arts and crafts.
While it might be one of the smaller Christmas markets in Copenhagen, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. You’ll hear live music played by local bands, and you’ll find an astonishing array of food on sale. While there’s the traditional Danish pastries and gløgg to be tried, you can also warm your cockles with a vegetarian curry or enjoy a not-so-seasonal empanada.
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What bargains did you pick up at the christmas markets? Let me know in the comments below!