Christmas activities in Copenhagen
Museums, markets, floating lights and winter bathing, Copenhagen offers many christmas activities.
In Copenhagen, we care about traditions, but we also seek new ways to refine the old. A couple of places that have been successful in creating a modern take on the Danish tradition of food and beverages are listed below.
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.
Hahnemanns Køkken - Learn how to bake Danish Christmas cookies
Sankt Kjelds Pl. 14, Copenhagen Ø - Website/Press photos
Hahnemanns Køkken in Østerbro houses both an organic bakery, patisserie, coffee bar and cooking school by the Danish food writer and chef Trine Hannemann. At Hahnemanns Køkken you can bite into Christmas favourites such as honey muffins, brownies, vanilla wreaths, and sourdough bread with dried fruit. If you are into baking yourself or need to refresh your Christmas baking skills a bit, Hahnemanns Køkken offers a course in Christmas cookies on Saturday, November 18, where you will learn how to bake four of the most popular Danish Christmas cookies – and you will be able to take them home with you. They are also hosting an open house event December 3 with spices, Christmas decorations, and wine tasting while their confectioners offer to write names on their julehjerter (A Danish Christmas gingerbread biscuit shaped as hearts).
Photo:Christianshavns Bådudlejning & Café
Christianshavns Bådudlejning & Café - Gløgg and æbleskiver at a floating Christmas house in Christianshavn
Overgaden Neden Vandet 29, 1414 Copenhagen K – Website
As the cold winter months kick in, Christianshavns Bådudlejning & Café transforms into one of the coziest Christmas spots in town. Surrounded by Christmas tree stalls and twinkling lights and music, the outdoor surroundings of the floating Christmas house bring a delightful and Christmassy feel to the place. When entering, you will be struck immediately by lit candles and glittering decorations by the warm fire, and the scents and aromas of Christmas fill the room. They serve anything from gløgg and æbleskiver to traditional Christmas servings, adding a festive atmosphere that most certainly won’t fail to get you in the Christmas spirit this year.
The Winter Cabin
During the cold months, Christianshavns Bådudlejning & Café opens its Winter Cabin in Christianshavn, which is well-known for its intimate, cozy atmosphere and attracts many locals during the winter. The café serves open-faced sandwiches for lunch and today's special in the evening. The Winter Cabin opens once again on the 10th of November and is open from 12-22 on weekdays and 12-24 from Friday to Sunday.
Københavns Bageri - Traditional Danish Christmas pastries
Flaskehalsen 22, 1778 København - Press Pictures
Behind Københavns Bageri are the owners of Benji and Alice, who, with their joint bakery, value the old traditions of Danish baking. Throughout the Christmas period, the bakery will continuously replace its assortment with a more Christmassy one, however still focusing on the traditional Christmas baked goods from Denmark. This year, they will make julekringle, a type of sweet pastry pretzel, Christmas buns, which are sweet types of buns, marzipan bread, a typical Danish sweat made from marzipan and dark chocolate, honningehjerter, which is a traditional Danish gingerbread Christmas cake shaped as hearts, and classic Christmas biscuits. On December 5, Københavns Bageri has arranged a special Christmas event from 13-15, where they will light the Christmas tree, hear jingles from a Christmas choir, and serve gløgg and hot chocolate.
GRØD - "Risengrød" a warm Danish rice porridge
Prinsessegade 23, 1422 Copenhagen K – Website/ Press photos
GRØD, porridge in Danish, is a huge part of the Danish national self-perception and culinary heritage - especially during Christmas and the winter season. Mostly because of risengrød and ris á la mande, which are two of the most traditional Christmas desserts to enjoy and keep you warm during the cold winter months of Christmas.
GRØD is kickstarting the festive season on 16 November. They will be serving homemade gløgg, ris á la mande (cold creamy rice porridge with chopped almonds and a cherry sauce), risengrød (warm rice porridge) both as the traditional version with cinnamon sugar and a dollop of butter, but also a vegan version. GRØD has won Denmark’s best rice porridge two years in a row. On Christmas Eve most local families have one whole almond in the dessert ris á la mande, and the person, who gets it, will win the almond present. Risengrød is also the favourite dish of Santa’s elves, so the story goes.
Leckerbaer - Decorate your own Christmas biscuits
Ryesgade 118, 2100 Københvan Ø - Website
The pastry and dessert shop Leckerbaer, which makes modern interpretations of Danish cake classics, is expanding its assortment this Christmas. Leckerbaer will be baking Christmas biscuits, Christmas cream puffs, Christmas pies, and their own Christmas edition of the famous Danish butter cookies tin box, where they dip the butter cookies in dark chocolate. This year, Leckerbaer will also launch a DIY cooking decorating set to take home. The set consists of three types of baked biscuits, shaped like hearts and cake men, and small containers with sprinkles, decorations and frosting.
Hviids Vinstue - Copenhagen’s most legendary gløgg
Kongens Nytorv 19, 1050 Copenhagen K – Website/Press photos
There is no Danish Christmas without gløgg. The warm mulled wine with liquor, almonds and raisins is a perfect treat after a long day of Christmas shopping in the cold streets of Copenhagen. Hviids Vinstue, established in 1723, is famous for its gløgg and has used the same recipe since 1954. It is so popular, that they produce 8000 liters every festive season and it is served every year from 11th November at 11 am. Since 2004 Hviids Vinstue has also bottled their gløgg in 1-liter bottles and labeled them with the year of vintage to sell as take away and gifts.
La Glace - Christmas in Denmarks oldest patisserie
Skoubogade 3-5, 1158 København K - Website
Conditori La Glace is Denmark’s oldest patisserie, founded on October 8th, 1870, and one of Denmark's leading conditories. During the holidays, the patisserie welcomes visitors in beautiful old rooms and presents traditional and modern Christmas delicacies shaped in cookies, art cakes, marzipan pigs, and petit fours. Again this year, La Glace makes their traditional French Christmas Ice Cream, which for many years, has been the traditional Christmas Eve dessert for families in Copenhagen. The ice cream consists of a classical french ice cream base with nougat, mocha, and sorbet ice cream. It is decorated with a selection of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blood orange, lemon, and black currant sorbet figures. Decorated with a snowman, green marzipan holly leaves, red berries, and a sign that says “Merry Christmas”. The Danish tradition is to find an almond in the dessert on Christmas Eve, whereas the person who finds it receives a present. Therefore, La Glace puts a whole almond in their Christmas Ice Cream.
Another La Glace Christmas tradition is their Christmas windows. This year, they are displaying 240 flying marzipan pigs in all sizes keeping one of their great and old traditions alive.
In the middle of Copenhagen, not too far away from the central station, BaneGaarden is located as a green oasis with wild nature and sustainable gastronomy as pivotal points. BaneGaarden’s restaurant Ticket offers a three-course menu featuring their interpretation of the traditional Danish ‘julefrokost’. Their menu will both feature classic Danish Christmas dishes such as herring and duck leg confit while at the same time offering vegetarian options, so you can go all-vegetarian, which, for example, includes beets and confit pumpkin inspired by the wild nature, taking you on an adventurous trip into the Nordic forest.
Barr - Christmas craft beers and a modern take on the Danish Christmas lunch
Strandgade 93, 1401 Copenhagen K – Website/Press photos
Restaurant Barr resides in Noma’s former, warm facilities in Christianshavn and draws inspiration from eating and drinking traditions of the North Sea, including both Scandinavia, Benelux, and the British Isles. At Barr, you will find a selection of craft beers by some of the best local breweries in Denmark, which go great with their modern take on traditional Nordic food. For lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 24th to December 23rd, Barr will be running the “Great BARR Christmas lunch”, meeting many of the dishes from a traditional Danish Christmas table, all familiar to most Danes – such as duck, herring, fried plaice and Icelandic salmon - but with a modern touch – and Danish craft Christmas beers and akvavit, of course. Barr also offers a 4-course Christmas menu that can be enjoyed in their restaurant from November 20th to December 30th.
Selma - A modern take on the Danish Christmas lunch
Rømersgade 20, Copenhagen K – Website/Press photos
Selma is a bib gourmand restaurant in Copenhagen and is the winner of the best smørrebrød in town in 2021. The restaurant has quickly made a name for itself by having a new and innovative take on the Danish lunch traditions including an incredible take on the Danish Christmas lunch. Selma is created in partnership with Mikkeller, who is, of course, responsible for a large part of the rotating beer selection on Selma's 12 beer taps, giving guests a taste of classical Danish cuisine while being able to enjoy some of the Danes' favourite craft beers. This year's Christmas menu will be an 8-course innovative and modern Christmas menu based on smørrebrød, Christmas schnapps and browned butter schnapps.
Apotek 57 - Christmas treats and Italian specialties
Fredericiagade 57, 1310 København - Website
Apotek 57, is a hidden gem in the yellow-houses district of Nyboder. The eatery, run by Chiara Barla, formerly at 108 and Mirabelle, is a cooperation between the Italian chef and the Danish design brand Frama, and it's hosted in Frama's charming flagship store. At Apotek 57, visitors will find a rotating menu featuring in-house seasonal breakfast and lunch, sourdough baked goods, Italian focaccias, and great coffee. During the Christmas season, Apotek 57 will also include Christmas cookies, risalamande, gløgg, and saffron buns, which is a tradition to eat on Santa Lucia, which is December 13. Most importantly, Apotek 57 will follow their Italian origin and bake Panettone, which is an Italian type of fruit cake. The Panettone will be sold as a whole cake but also as a special dish in the form of French Toast.
Tivoli - Restaurants and gastronomic experiences
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V - Website
The Tivoli Gardens offers gastronomic experiences and alternatives for visitors to eat through the amusement parks. At the restaurants and stalls in Tivoli Gardens, visitors can enjoy gløgg throughout the Christmas season, and taste æbleskiver at several locations as well as the wonderful Danish butter cookies. The many restaurants of the amusement park have prepared unique Christmas dinners containing both traditional and modern Christmas treats. The restaurants are listed below.
Knystaforsen - Swedish Michelin popup
From 19th Nov. to 31st Dec., visitors to the Tivoli Gardens can enjoy fine-dining dishes prepared over open fire, when the Swedish Michelin-starred restaurant Knystaforsen temporarily relocates to The Japanese Tower in Tivoli. Knystaforsen has been awarded a Michelin star and Green Michelin star for its hyperlocal, sustainable cuisine, most often prepared outdoors over open fire. At the pop-up guests will be able to explore the aromas and flavours of fish from rivers and lakes, wild meat and green, and tasty surprises from the woodlands paired with handpicked regional wines and house-made beverages.
Here you can enjoy simple and authentic Danish dishes, several of which have been on the menu for more than 100 years. At Grøften, you taste your way through the smorgasbord of Danish Christmas by enjoying "Grøften’s Great Christmas Table".
KILDEN i Haven
During Christmas time, KILDEN i Haven’s selection of smørrebrød will be filled with interpretations of the flavours from the Christmas table. The menu will, for example, include smoked duck breast, rehydrated beetroot, pickled blackberries, and smoked mayonnaise. The menu will also consist of several vegetarian pieces of smørrebrød, including one with panfried and marinated cabbage, pickled mustard, radishes, and fluffy mustard sauce. In addition, KILDEN will serve homemade spiced schnapps with notes of cinnamon, aniseed, vanilla and more.
The Nimb Restaurants
Bernstorffsgade 5, 1577 København - Website
Hotel Nimb presents its gastronomic universe in the center of Copenhagen. Here, visitors can enjoy food from the French kitchen, open-faced sandwiches, and Danish dinner classics. This holiday season, the Nimb restaurants welcome guests into unique Christmas experiences, where they have tuned their menus and surroundings with holiday magic.
Nimb Brasserie - Danish Christmas dishes with French brasserie flare
Tivoli Gardens with its magical Christmas decorations is a wonderful sight to behold, and that is precisely the view visitors can enjoy from Nimb Brasserie, where in November and December they serve a delicious Danish/French Christmas menu in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The flavors at Nimb Brasserie reflect an exquisite French brasserie tradition. The ambiance is inviting and the views are magical. The ingredients are fresh, honest, crisp, juicy, tender, and carefully selected. The overall experience is one of a French brasserie set in a magical garden with added Danish Yuletide stardust – completely unique.
Fru Nimb - Classic Danish Christmas fare
At Fru Nimb, visitors can experience refined versions of classic Danish open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød), all set in a bright and beautiful ambiance. Here, there is a great dedication to detail and the ingredients are of the highest quality. Classically Danish with a luxurious twist. In the evening Fru Nimb offers a traditional three-course Christmas menu.
Photo:Blank Space Studio
It has also become more common to find new innovative takes on traditional Christmas drinks and flavours on restaurant drink menus during Christmas time. This Christmas, for example, you can find a special teapot cocktail at the Cantonese restaurant Goldfinch. Their teapot cocktail consists of eggnog and their own jelly shot, which is based on the classic Danish risalamande this season. At Kødbyens Fiskebar in The Meatpacking District, you can find a special cocktail made from cherry wine produced in Frederiksdal, an area just north of Copenhagen, to accompany their fresh and simple seafood. The traditional gløgg has been given a twist at the smørrebrøds restaurant Aamanns Replik. Here, they will serve a "red wine glögg punch", which consists of reduced glögg syrup with Jamaican rum, dry Curacao, and Earl Gray Tea, clarified with coconut milk. On the more exclusive end, Hotel D’Angleterre’s champagne bar, Balthazar, combines the flavours of champagne and white gløgg to create a unique Christmas cocktail.
Juleøl, Danish for Christmas beer, is one of the most beloved drinks amongst Copenhageners when the Christmas atmosphere is in the air, starting from the first Friday in November. With more than 350 kinds of the stronger and darker beer, the Christmas beer is a unique brewing tradition. Learn more about the Danish Juleøl and where to try it here.
The Danish mulled wine “gløgg” is offered all around Copenhagen during Christmas time. This variety of mulled wine is unique as it also contains chopped and blanched almonds as well as raisins, and many places start preparing the beverage a long time in advance. Read more about great places to try out the popular Christmas beverage here.