• Helsinki – the Christmas city

    Lights make all the difference

    Christmastime Helsinki is all about lights, lights and more lights – with snow, the city becomes a truly magical place.

  • Aleksanterinkatu - the Christmas street

    The switching-on of the Christmas illuminations along Aleksanterinkatu – the official Christmas street – is a sure sign that the festive season is under way. Shop windows are decorated to outbid each other in the Christmas shopper stakes. Aleksanterinkatu, one of Helsinki’s best known shopping streets, is a natural focus for gift seekers.

  • Hot glögi warms the soul

    Glögi is a traditional Christmas drink, made from spiced wine with a sprinkling of almonds and raisins and, whenever possible, a dash of vodka. The drink is served to welcome Christmas visitors in homes, at office parties and in street markets and events.

  • Dreams of snow come true

    White Christmases can´t be 100-per-cent guaranteed in Helsinki, although there is a better chance of them in northern Finland. But in recent years the snow has arrived early and snow nearly always falls at some time over the festive season.

  • Annual treat for children

    The unveiling of the Christmas window in the Stockmann department store on the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Keskuskatu is an awaited annual event for young Helsinki citizens. Families come into town from the suburbs especially to show the kids the annually-changing display.

  • Can’t wait to skate

    The Ice Park in the Railway Station Square has become a popular attraction and its opening before Christmas adds to the seasonal atmosphere. Open daily, weather permitting, the ice rink boasts a café and it’s a great venue to chill out and practice your twirls after Christmas shopping.

  • Lucia Day – celebrating winter light

    The celebration of St Lucia Day is a tradition kept alive by the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland, but the procession of the newly crowned Lucia from the Lutheran Cathedral – complete with horse-drawn carriage, elves and Santa Claus – is a spectacle for everyone. The celebrations take place on December 13, St Lucia’s Day.

  • Tiernapojat – a Finnish ritual

    The Tiernapojat (literally, ‘star boys’) tradition, which draws on the legend of the Three Kings and the slaughter of young males, is enacted in Helsinki streets by groups of lads hoping for a coin or two. The characters deliver their dialogue in a series of songs.

  • St Thomas market

    St Thomas market opens right in the heart of town in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The market consists of over 120 stalls selling handicrafts, lanterns, Christmas decorations, food and hot drinks and is a great, convivial venue for gift shopping.

  • Warm glow of Christmas

    The glow from a smithy’s furnace lights up the winter gloom in St Thomas market. The smith is used to forge wrought iron souvenirs and is one of over a hundred stalls and shops lining the park in weeks leading up to Christmas.

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Helsinki – the Christmas city

The first substantial snow usually arrives in time for Christmas in the Finnish capital, draping the city in white and creating an appropriately festive ambience. Christmas lights on the city’s main street Aleksanterinkatu and the bustle of shoppers in St Thomas’ Market exude a cheering warmth.

The sun may be reluctant to rise as winter starts to grip Helsinki, but the aroma of mulled wine, or glögi, and shop window decorations warm the soul as Christmas approaches.

‘Little Christmas’ celebrations come first

Christmas is usually a quiet family celebration, so people make the most of  pikkujoulu – ‘little Christmas’ – during which they party in bars and restaurants. The mercury may plunge below minus 10 Celsius, but the mood is one of warm conviviality.

Even when temperatures plummet, shops and restaurants emit a welcoming glow and Finnish buildings are famously equipped to expel the harshest frost. Add to the mix carol recitals in the churches and it’s hard to believe that Helsinki wasn’t actually founded for the specific purpose of celebrating Christmas.

 

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Helsinki is a modern pocket-sized European city of culture that is known for its design and high technology. Helsinki’s attractive and unique character comes from its proximity to the sea, which offers an endless number of exciting opportunities in summer and winter alike.

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