Winter is the most romantic time of year in Copenhagen. With a chance of snow and ice, long nights decorated with Christmas lights, skate rinks ready for fun all over town and no crowds at all at the famous sights and attractions, winter is the season of delights in Copenhagen. Here are our top tips for getting into the Christmas spirit and visiting Copenhagen in winter.
From the end of November till the start of January Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s amusement park and pleasure garden, becomes a fairy-tale Christmas adventure for all ages. Thousands of twinkling lights offer warmth in the cold winter darkness, over 15 Christmas trees glimmer in beautiful colours and the wonderful tunes played by the Tivoli Youth Guard can be heard in every corner of the Gardens.
You can explore the snow-clad stalls, and marvel at the enchanting light projections. Kids can visit Santa Clause until 23 December, for a photo and to tell him their Christmas wishes. And on New Year’s Eve Tivoli’s restaurants have special menus and the park has the best fireworks display in town.
We’ve blogged about traditional Danish food before, but in winter there are a couple of special treats that have to be on your must-try list. Many of these are traditional Christmas treats but there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy them throughout the winter months. Gløgg, for example, is a spiced usually alcoholic mulled wine or spirit that will warm you right up if you’ve been outside in the cold.
Æbleskiver are delicious pancake balls often with cardamom but despite there name only very rarely contain apple. Brunkager is a traditional Christmas cookie, you could describe them as the Danish version of Gingerbread Cookies. Klejner, on the other hand, are twisted fried pastries. You can buy them at any supermarket but the locals prefer to make them themselves. And then of course there is the traditional Christmas meal Flæskesteg, a baked pork belly with boiled or caramelised potatoes, red cabbage and white sauce with aromatic parsley.
The Danish capital offers lots of Christmas markets for its compact size. Over 15 Christmas Markets can be found in the city, all a bit different from each other. Some specialise in food, while others boast handicraft stalls and gift shops but all will fill you with festive spirit.
The Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens might be the best known in the city but there are others too that should be on your must-visit list. Such as the market on Kongens Nytorv, right by Nyhavn; or on Højbro Plads, near Christiansborg Palace; or the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market on Nytorv; or head to Copenhagen ZOO to turn a regular zoo visit into a magical experience.
If the gløgg isn’t doing the trick when it comes to warming you up, why not head inside into one of Copenhagen’s many amazing museums. Whether you are looking for art, history, nature or science, Copenhagen has a museum for you to visit. The Nationalmuseet which has collections and exhibitions on Denmark's history, people and culture, while the Statens Museum for Kunst is Denmark's largest art gallery with approximately 260,000 works of art.
The Natural History Museum of Denmark has three museums to choose between, the Zoological Museum, the Geological Museum and the Botanical Gardens. The Geological Museum has a T-rex on display, while the Zoological Museum will take you back to the time of the mammoths, and the Botanical Gardens holds the largest collection of living plants in Denmark.
While some of the city’s squares turn into Christmas Markets, others become ice rinks! Two of the most notable locations for ice skating are the ice rinks at the entrance to Frederiksberg Gardens and Broens Street Food. The ice rink at Frederiksberg Runddel is open round the clock for those who have their own skates, and you can rent skates during the day.
The harbour fronted Broen’s ice rink offers 600m2 of ice to have fun on, right by the Bridge Street Kitchen food market. They have put together a fun programme of activities throughout the winter with everything from ice-hockey tournaments, disco on ice for kids and adults, St. Lucia singing and lots of skating and twirls on the ice.
The Danish capital has festivals during every season of the year, including winter. The Copenhagen Light Festival brings light to the city streets after the Christmas decorations have come down. During three weeks in February light artworks from both Danish and international artists and designers are on display in the city. Every year the festival has new light art on display in different ways throughout the city centre and near the harbour.
Also in February but celebrated throughout Denmark is Vinterjazz. The festival spans three weeks featuring more than 600 concerts, at 150 venues and independent organizers from all across Denmark. The combination of the festival’s length and the countrywide aspect gives Vinterjazz the opportunity to showcase international stars on tour, new Danish award-winning projects and curated concert themes. Together these two festival are a great way to end the winter season.