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Christmas in Copenhagen

Photo: Lasse Salling

Christmas marks the darkest time of year, but Copenhagen is covered in bright lights and filled with joyful activities, craftsmanship and design, and lots of delicious food and beverages to keep you warm. In other words: plenty of the famous Danish hygge.

Christmas in Copenhagen offers a Nordic mix of Christmas past and present with an eye on the future. The Danish capital keeps the Christmas spirit high, as it conquers the darkness and slowly, but steadily, moves towards lighter times.

So, whether you are looking for outdoor activities for the whole family, great food or want to go shopping for that little, handcrafted present for that special someone, Christmas in Copenhagen comes with a capital C. Or as explained by Kristina Junge Jørgensen, an experienced guide in Copenhagen:

“Christmas in Copenhagen is special because of the lights all over the city, the cold weather, the smell of fir/pine and gløgg, and the sound of Christmas carols.”

Christmas activities in Copenhagen

Even though Christmas is at the darkest time of year and makes you want to curl up inside with lit candles and home-baked goodies, Copenhagen offers plenty of possibilities of taking the Danish hygge outside. You can visit museums, and other attractions, which offer Christmas-themed events or do something more active to make room for a bit more of the city’s delicious Christmas treats.

Copenhagen is an ancient merchant city, and it offers Christmas activities deeply rooted in tradition. You can have a taste of Christmas as it was several hundred years ago, as traditions are kept alive and vibrant throughout the Christmas season. Read more about different Christmas activities in Copenhagen here.

Santa Lucia Kayak Bar

Christmas activities in Copenhagen

Photo: Visit Copenhagen

Danish Christmas food - An introduction

The Danish Christmas cuisine is part of a long-standing tradition dating back many centuries and is an important part of the Danish cultural heritage, which reflects a strong agricultural past. For many Danes, the traditional Danish Christmas food plays an immense role during the festive season as the fun and hygge with dear friends at Christmas lunches and parties often revolves around the Christmas food as a start. It is a time to enjoy delightful Christmas dishes that eventually leads to the big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  

The traditional Danish Christmas dinner usually consists of different kinds of oven-roasted meats, usually pork, duck, or goose with pickled and fermented vegetables on the side. Red cabbage, pickled cucumbers and caramelised potatoes are must-haves to accompany these. For dessert, most people go for the Ris á la Mande, an updated version of traditional rice porridge.

This is how Bettina Buhl, Food Historian at The Green Museum, describes it:

“Danish Christmas food is very much related to the time when we were mostly farmers. It consists of farm animals and quite everyday ingredients. With the evolution of bigger cities such as Copenhagen, the older food traditions were refined and made more luxurious as living standards improved. But still with the same base of products.”

Even though the dishes on Christmas Eve are rather traditional, some local restaurants are, of course, taking the local Christmas cuisine in new directions. Especially the Christmas lunch, which is closely related to the tradition of smørrebrød, and locally brewed Christmas beer is often and happily reinterpreted.

“In December before Christmas Eve, the Danes are usually more willing to experiment with the food. This is obvious especially in the many restaurants in Copenhagen serving smørrebrød in new and exciting ways” Bettina Buhl adds.

Where to try innovative Christmas food in Copenhagen

In Copenhagen, we care about traditions, but we are also always seeking new ways to refine the old. A couple of places that have been successful in doing just that with the Danish tradition of food and beverages are listed here.

Hotels taking Christmas to the next level

Every year, some of the hotels in town make a grand effort to celebrate the beginning of the festive season, capturing the joy of Christmas with colourful decorations and twinkling lights. Read more about these hotels that will most certainly get you in the Christmas spirit here.

Christmas presents in the Danish capital of design

Danish design with its functionality and simplicity is world-famous, and Copenhagen is the capital of it. The long tradition of design and craftsmanship is evident everywhere you go. In addition, Denmark has a long tradition of Christmas decorations in various materials, for example, the famously weaved Christmas heart created by Danish writer H.C. Andersen in the 1860s.

Whether you are just here to enjoy the architecture sprinkled in thousands of Christmas lights, or you are searching for handcrafted special presents, Copenhagen has plenty of unique shopping possibilities with both stores and designers Christmas markets.

The next generation of both educated and self-taught designers are always looking to refine the Danish design traditions and move them into the future and can be experienced at various places in the city.

Danish Christmas Traditions

Christmas is all about traditions, and just like any other place, the festive season in Denmark is particularly rich in traditions. Danish Christmas, or Jul, is all about family, friends, food and lots of traditions many Danes cherish highly. Learn more about some of the best known Danish Christmas traditions here.


Christmas Traditions in Copenhagen

Photo: Marc Skafte-Vaabengaard

Copenhagen's take on Christmas markets

Although it is not a typical Danish tradition, in the past few years Copenhagen has been seeing all kinds of Christmas markets popping up around the city's neighbourhoods in the weeks running up to Christmas Eve. Read more about cool pop-up design markets to the more traditional markets serving gløgg and æbleskiver throughout November and December here.

Haveselskabets Have julemarked

Christmas markets in Copenhagen

Photo: Marc Skafte-Vaabengaard

Press Photos

Christmas in Copenhagen - press photos. The photographers must be credited. 

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