Stalls laden with Christmas treats, mugs of steaming spicy mulled wine, special seasonal pastries and Christmas concerts and parades. The Christmas markets across Denmark offer all the quintessential elements to get you feeling festive. However, beyond the iconic Christmas markets, such as the one at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen are a choice of less well known but equally enchanting festive markets, making even more reasons to put a trip to Denmark on the Christmas shopping list.
Here’s our pick of the ones to visit in 2019.
Located less than an hour north of Copenhagen on the North Sealand coast at Elsinore, Kronborg Castle is probably better known as Hamlet’s Castle. The magnificent renaissance castle, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with its majestic spires and towers, is also the perfect setting for one of Denmark’s largest Christmas markets. In the rooms and halls of the castle there are stalls selling Christmas decorations, unique gifts, toys and small goods, whilst a Christmas tree is the centrepiece in the huge castle ballroom awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus. Visitors can watch a Christmas show for children and tour the castle to hear how King Christian IV celebrated Christmas as a child. The Christmas market is open 30 November – 2 December and 7 – 9 December 2019.
For visitors to North Jutland, there are a choice of markets to enjoy in the city as well as on the coast and in the countryside.
In the region’s largest town of Aalborg, the traditional Christmas market is at Gammeltorv in the centre of city. Take a ride on the Ferris Wheel for the best views of the city (cost 25 DKK pp); go skating on the city’s ice rink at C.W. Obels Plads or time your visit to meet Santa Claus, who will arrive by boat from the fjord to turn on the Christmas tree lights at Nytorv on 16 November. The Christmas market is open from the middle of November to just before Christmas.
For festive fun beyond the city, head to the west Jutland coast where the Sculpture Park at Blokhus is hosting one of the most spectacular Christmas sound and light shows in Denmark. As Denmark’s largest open-air art exhibition, the park contains some of the country’s finest sculptures made from various materials including sand, wood, iron, stone, granite and bronze. At Christmas, the gigantic sand sculptures that decorate the park, with the theme this year of ‘Wild Vikings’, are illuminated by thousands of coloured lights. These combine with the unique Christmas decorations, such as a 46 metre-long illuminated Christmas avenue and a 17 metre high Christmas tree to give the whole park a thoroughly festive glow and are accompanied by a three-minute sound and light show which can be enjoyed throughout the park every 15 minutes.
In the park’s Christmas market local specialities such as sausages, mulled wine and cakes can be bought from the cosy heated stalls. You can also head inside to the cafe for specially brewed Christmas beer and a warming glass of schnapps. The park is open from Tuesday – Sunday throughout November and December.
North of Blokhus and close to the seaside town of Løkken stands ancient Børglum Monastery. Located on a hill overlooking rolling countryside, the monastery was once an important centre of power in the Middle Ages. The impressive white buildings that once housed the monks are now privately run as a farm with a large exhibition area used by artists and craftspeople. Each weekend from the middle of November to Christmas, the family opens its doors for a traditional Christmas market with the rare opportunity for visitors to see inside the monastery buildings and some of its 85 private rooms beautifully decorated with Christmas hearts, spruce, beads and other Christmas trimmings. Pick up some local gifts and taste traditional Danish Christmas food in the café, washed down with plenty of home-made mulled wine.
Aarhus in Mid Jutland:
Venturing south, the famous Christmas Market in Denmark’s second city of Aarhus is not to be missed. Open from 22 November through to 31 December, Den Gamle By (the Old Town Museum) offers a walk back through time to experience the atmosphere of Christmas in a bygone era. Browse the Christmas shop and tour the crafts market at the square. In the Mayor’s House, you will see how Danes celebrated Christmas between the 1600s through to 1850. Whilst in the Merchant’s house, you might get a taste of the housemaid’s cooking as she prepares for Christmas Eve. Most Danes celebrate Christmas on 24 December with a Christmas dinner, where duck or pork roast is served, followed by a special Christmas rice pudding for dessert. The one who finds the whole almond inside the dessert gets a present.
22-24 November, you can visit one of the largest and most beautiful palaces in Denmark as Augustenborg holds its annual Christmas market. The beautiful palace of Augustenborg lies like a hidden gem in the landscape around Augustenborg Fjord near Sønderborg (8 km to the centre). Completed in 1776, the palace was the seat of the ducal family of Augustenborg. Today, its charming Christmas market takes place in the square in front of the palace. At the market, children can make their own Christmas decorations and their families can relax with live concerts or do their Christmas shopping from the many wooden stalls on the square.
On the garden island of Funen, an enchanting Christmas market is held at Egeskov Castle. The renaissance style castle was built in 1554 on a foundation of oak trees in the middle of a lake and Egeskov is now famous for being the best-preserved moated castle building in Europe. At Christmas the castle is decorated both inside and out with more than a kilometre of festive garlands. Over 100 stalls selling arts and crafts and delicious Christmas delicacies fill its halls, whilst there are special activities for children. The Christmas market is open each weekend in November from 9th November to 24th November 2019. On the last weekend in November (28th-30th November), a beautiful sound and light show will illuminate the castle walls and grounds.
If the draw of Copenhagen proved too irresistible, head to the extraordinary Christmas market in Tivoli Gardens (16 Nov- 5 January). See the beautifully decorated gardens, illuminated parades featuring the Tivoli Youth Guard, concerts of classic and new music in Tivoli’s Halls and take a stroll through the tempting market stalls in search of Christmas treats.
Be sure to make time to seek out the smaller markets that are dotted around the city. Options include the Nyhavn Christmas Market which is one of the first to open from as early as 9th November right through to 23rd December, transforming the cobbled harbourside streets into one of the cosiest Christmas markets in Copenhagen.
Also try Højbro Plads, which is close to Copenhagen’s buzzing Strøget shopping street where 180,000 decorative lights provide a glitzy display. Try a homemade glühwein made by renowned master brewers the Reich family since 1882, accompanied by warm candied almonds. Then shop for warm woollen mittens, glassware and freshly baked Danish pastries in the traditional Tyrolian style log-cabins. The market is open from 15 November to 22 December 2019.
Or step back to the days of Denmark’s favourite storyteller at the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas market in Nytorv Square. Illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights, the market stalls selling gifts bear the names of his best-loved fairy-tales and a nostalgic carousel is available for children. The market is open 15 November and 21 December 2019.
Christmas Markets across Denmark are easy to reach with direct flights from London, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh to Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund.
SAS flies from Stansted and Heathrow to Copenhagen and from Manchester to Aarhus with prices starting from £60 one way. BA has flights from Heathrow to Copenhagen and Billund. Ryanair operates from Stansted to Copenhagen, Aarhus, Billund and Aalborg; from Southend and Liverpool to Copenhagen; from Liverpool to Copenhagen and from Manchester to Billund starting at £15 one way. EasyJet connects Gatwick, Bristol and Edinburgh to Copenhagen with prices from £25 one way. Norwegian offers flights from Gatwick and Edinburgh to Copenhagen starting at £30.