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9 festive activities to do in Stockholm around Christmas

Stockholm is one of the most romantic cities to visit in Winter and especially during Christmas. Discover the city from a new perspective sparkling with Christmas decorations and explore the distinct Christmas traditions of the Swedes, ranging from classic Christmas markets to the largest natural Christmas tree in the world, trying traditional festive dishes and maybe even seeing the Northern Lights.

Christmas markets

Stockholm in Winter

Stockholm’s Old Town, the Gamla stan, and the open-air museum Skansen are some of the city’s most popular attractions. They are even more picturesque during Christmas: from the end of November to the end of December, both of them host Christmas markets.

Starting with a bonfire each year, the Christmas market in Skansen is truly a historic tradition, dating back to 1903. Here you can buy the presents from home-made candles to sweets and the best secret Christmas presents.

The Christmas market in Gamla stan is set up on Stortorget, the central square of the Old Town. This market looks back on an even longer history, since the first Christmas market happened here in 1837! Here you can find over 40 booths and stands to try Christmas treats, buy ceramics and many more handmade items.

Stockholmsjul Christmas Lights

Each year, the Stockholmsjul Christmas Lights are lit on November 11 until mid-January, marking the beginning of the Christmas spirit in Sweden. Over 40 streets and squares in the city centre of Stockholm are decorated with millions of LED lights and sculptures in the shapes of angles, mistletoes, spruces, and reindeers.

The Christmas Lights not only serve as a festive decorations and to lighten up the dark Winter days, but they are also an event all by themselves! The decorations are best enjoyed by foot, hence the organizers provide a map for the Walk of Lights each year. Just follow along the route and discover the highlights of the tour!

Unleash your inner Santa

Another annual Christmas tradition in Sweden is the Stockholm Santa Run, a charity run of the special kind with over 1400 Santa Claus running through the streets of the Swedish capital. The run stretches over a 3 kilometres long track and is for everyone, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas: finding joy in spending time together and supporting those in need.

The run is sponsored by partners and all the fundraising goes directly to a different social organization every year. Dressing up as Santa and joining this fun charity run will surely make a unique memory!

Indulge in Julbord

Saffron bunsJulbord is the traditional Swedish Christmas buffet, basically a Christmas smorgasbord, you need to try when visiting Stockholm during the holidays. The holiday versions consists of both cold and warm dishes and not only Swedish dishes but also International delicacies are used.

Typically it is served with a glass of Swedish hot mulled wine, glögg, before starting to eat. Dishes on the Julbord could include for example the famous köttbullar, small sausages called prinskorv, and Janssons frestelse, a gratin made from potatoes and anchovies. The buffet is topped off with sweet classics like candies, homemade cookies, pies, puddings, meringues, the traditional lussekattor saffron buns, mousse and many more.

Ice skating

One of the most favourite Winter activities in Sweden is ice skating, hence you will find some great ice rinks in the middle of the city here. One of the most popular rinks is in Kungsträdgården. Located across the Gamla stan, the entry here is free and you can rent ice skates if needed.

If the weather allows, it even might be possible to skate on several lakes in and around the Swedish capital. An ideal location for this directly in Stockholm is the lake Trekanten, right behind the Liljeholmen T-bana station.

Christmas shopping

Stockholm is the ideal city to get your Christmas shopping done. Depending on what you’re looking for it, it makes sense to visit the different districts. For classic Christmas shopping in big stores, world-famous chains and malls, go to the modern city centre around Stockholm’s central station. In Östermalm you can find plenty of high-end boutiques.

In Södermalm and Gamla stan on the other hand, you can find more unique gifts. Södermalm is one of the hippest parts of the city, so you will find a lot of vintage, design and jewellery stores and small art galleries here. In Gamla stan you find plenty of stores from local designers and handcrafted items as well as typical Stockholm souvenirs.

Northern LightsCatch a glimpse of the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are one of the greatest phenomena of nature in the world. Usually, they are only visible from around 3000 kilometres south of the North Pole but if you’re particularly lucky, you may even see a sky coloured in shades of red, green and pink from the streets when spending Christmas in Stockholm. It essentially depends on the clearness of the sky and the intensity of the aurora.

Winter is usually the best time to see this fascinating natural phenomena. If you don’t want to leave it to pure luck, you could always book a trip to the North of the country with Lapland being the ideal destination to witness the Northern Lights.

St. Lucia concerts

From December 13th onwards, St. Lucia concerts are taking place all over Stockholm. The Swedish Christmas traditions goes way back to the end of the 18th century and quickly became an integral part to the holidays here, representing one of the most popular cultural traditions in Sweden alongside Midsummer. Lucia is an ancient mythological figure that brings light into the dark Swedish Winter, going back to a martyr who died in 304.

Eleven nights before Christmas, Lucia is celebrated all around the country with choirs and candle processions as well as saffron buns and mulled wine. One of the best places to experience the tradition is the Storkyrkan, also known as Sankt Nikolai Kyrka. The magical atmosphere of the church makes the event extra festive.

Marvel at the largest Christmas tree in Sweden

Are you still looking for the perfect Christmas backdrop for your festive photos? This is it! And while the Skeppsbron Christmas tree is one of many around the town, it is definitely one of the most impressive attractions in the city during Christmas.

Located on the Skeppsbron waterfront in Gamla stan, the Christmas tree here is the largest natural Christmas in the world. Measuring a height of 38 meters, the tree is decorated with more than 5000 lights and crowned with a four-meter large star on the top!