Lighten Up Copenhagen with Winter Light Festival

Winter Light Festival Illuminates Copenhagen Harbor

February is GETTING a little brighter

Copenhagen is winning at winter. This year for sure. This is our fourth winter in the Danish capital and speaking from experience, I feel a little like a winner myself whenever I make it past January on the calendar. While all that Danish hygge definitely helps, I was more than happy to hear that the city has added a little illumination to the night, letting Copenhagen lighten up this winter. Enter the Copenhagen Light Festival all over the city celebrating the Danes special connection with design and oh-so-luscious lighting.

Once Copenhagen jumps into the New Year with one of the best celebrations in the world, the lights usually turn off and January can be dark and damp. Life turns indoors and we all cozy up with friends and coffee and Netflix normally. Hygge this. I’m ok with the downturn, but am also grateful when it goes. You can feel the days getting incrementally longer come February. Halleluia. Happy dance. And while the month is still brisk and may bring some snow, it now affords some reasons to get outside after dusk. Bust out your best mittens, scarves, beanies and boots and beeline to the city to see the lights. Lighten up Copenhagen!



Throughout the month, you can get a good overview of the installations along the canals. Take a guided canal boat cruise with Stromma. 45 minutes beginning at 19:00, you can get out on the water in a heated and covered canal boat. A classic start to any sight-seeing tour of the town, it is pretty cool after dark. Bundle up and sit outside if you dare. We loved the dark water lit up with the lights. But hurry and book soon, limited seats are filling up fast.

Tickets: 100 kr
45 minutes
Leaves from Ved Stranden dock near Højbro Plads.


Our first experience with a city-sponsored light festival was in Berlin for Lichterfest back in 2016. In a rainy, cold October break it provided a nice break from the damp autumn weather. Lichterfest had a broader scope than we found here in Copenhagen, but the Danes do it their way. Always. Minimal and well designed, Denmark knows how to make an impact, even if subtly.



The program for Copenhagen Light Festival evolves over the month with new exhibits cropping up and fading out each week. Check the website for the up-to-date schedule of exhibits. Here were our favorites from the opening weekend that you should be able to see throughout the month.


LOCATION: Kalvebod Bølge
ARTIST: Mads Vegas

142 fluorescent lamps align along the harbor bridges in front of Kalvebod Brygge creating a virtual sundown of light. With a near rainbow of blues to sunny reds and oranges and yellows, this installation is sure to bring sunshine to the harbor all month.

Light Installation on the Copenhagen Canal at Kalvebod Bølge | Light art by Mads Vegas for Copenhagen Light Festival 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the WorldKalvebod Bølge Copenhagen waterfront Light Installation by Mads Vegas 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the WorldEternal Sundown by Mads Vegas | Light Installation for Copenhagen Light Festival 2018 at Kalvebod Brygge | Copenhagen Marriott | Oregon Girl Around the World


LOCATION: Ofelia Plads
ARTIST: Vertigo (Formerly Obscura Vertigo)

The Wave is an impressive interactive light and sound display that encourages participants engagement. Walk through. Listen. Absorb. Be mesmerized. It’s amazing. Returning for the second time to Copenhagen, The Wave is part of the Frost Festival 2018 and sits on the harbor in the modern cultural space known as Ofelia Plads. One of my favorite places to soak up summer, Ofelia Plads is the place to be once again this winter.

Interactive Light Installation The Wave at Ofelia Plads Copenhagen | Light Festival 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the WorldTriangles of light from The Wave on Ofelia Plads for Frost Festival 2018 | Copenhagen Light Festival | Oregon Girl Around the World


LOCATION: Louis Poulsen Showroom, Gammel Strand 28
ARTIST: Jakob Kvist

If you haven’t heard of Danish hygge – then seriously where have you been? And whether or not you are fed up with hearing hygge hyped in all parts of the world, it will always be part of the Danish DNA. Part of creating a space for hygge is getting the atmosphere right. Here in Denmark, that means investing in good lighting. If you have the means, a light from Danish light design company Louis Poulsen is the way to go. Many of the Danish design greats have created masterpieces in lamps and overhead lighting for Louis Poulsen. I’m coveting one of the bright Poul Henningsen pendant lamps, still the original design but now in updated delicious colors. One of each please. Can’t afford a designer lamp? You can soak up the light emanating from their showroom this month. I love the rainbow fruit stripe colors of this installation by artist Jakob Kvist.

Louis Poulson Showroom with Jakob Kvist Light Installation for Copenhagen Light Festival 2018 | Gammel Strand København | Oregon Girl Around the World


LOCATION: Nikolaj Plads 10, 1067 København K
ARTIST: Martin Ersted

Nikolaj Kunsthal just off Højbro Plads is lit up with changing lights, but what is truly impressive is the giant green laser beam that points to the tower all the way from Tivoli. With a new winter season open at the amusement park, you can extend your winter wonderland of sparkly lights with activities like ice skating and rides under the lights.

Copenhagen Light Festival 2018 | Louis Poulson showroom with Jakob Kvist display and Tivoli Laser | Oregon Girl Around the World



Many of Copenhagen’s most iconic architecture already utilizes light as part of their design. As you may have already gleaned, the Danes have placed a high value on creating atmosphere with light. Basically since the dawn of electricity in Denmark. From creating those happy hygge filled spaces inside to lessening the dark Danish winters outside. Come to Copenhagen she said. And see these quintessential buildings, many with permanent light displays and some now even more exciting this season.


Three round light sculptures visible through the windows of the Opera House are said to represent the red flag with three white dots of nearby freetown and hippy commune Christiania.

Copenhagen Opera House from Light Festival Stromma boat tour | Oregon Girl Around the World


The Danish playhouse sits right next to Ofelia Plads, so you can check it out when you go see The Wave. Take note of the thin fiber optic thread lights that hang like stars in the foyer. There are thousands of them that glitter through the glass windows over the harbor.

Royal Danish Playhouse | Skuespilhuset Teater lit up on the Copenhagen Harbor | Copenhagen Light Festival 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the World


One of my favorite buildings in Copenhagen, the Børsen was originally home to the Danish Stock Exchange when opened in 1640. Since the mid-1800’s, the building has been used by the Danish Chamber of Commerce and is unfortunately not open to the public. But wander down the canal and enjoy the blue light installation in all the windows, known as The Danish Chamber of Light.

Lights on the Børsen Copenhagen Stock Exchange | Light Festival 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the World

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson who is responsible for the light sculptures at the Opera House has also utilized light on his Circle Bridge. The Cirkelbroen (in Danish) is super cool and interesting day or night. Find it sitting across the main canal from the dramatic Royal Library called the Black Diamond as it stretches over the exit of the Christianshavn Canal.

Light display on the Cirklebroen Circle Bridge by Danish-Icelandic Artist Olafur Eliasson | Copenhagen Denmark | Light Festival February 2018 | Oregon Girl Around the World


Are you a big fan of light festivals? Have you been to others around the world? Check out this amazing list from Tracy’s Travels in Time to illuminate and inspire on where to light up next.

Oregon Girl Around the World


42 thoughts on “Lighten Up Copenhagen with Winter Light Festival

  1. annette @afrenchcollection

    Do airlines have to make changes to flight plans because of the strong green laser, or is the airport nowhere near there. I’m sorry I have no idea geographically where everything is in your city.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I think it’s low enough and far enough away from airport – but that is a great question that didn’t even cross my mind!!

  2. That is super lovely! There was a light festival in Vilnius as well, but it was mostly held in one area. This is cool that the lights are spread throughout the city! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      There could be a few more interactive things or building projections, but the ones they have are very cool.

  3. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    This has reminded me why I need to go back to Copenhagen. I was there as a child for a quick visit but rediscovered it in 2011 after my dad died. He had loved the city, staying for a while during his university summers when studying architecture. He would have loved to have seen all these wonderful buildings it up – what a great way to bring winter warmth.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I love that connection Trish – thank you for sharing. I wish I could share it with my dad as well, he would have loved the Danes and this city as well. Cheers from Denmark, Erin

      1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

        Haha! Hope it does grow – it honestly helps motivate to go outside after dark here in Copenhagen in winter! Ha!

  4. So many amazing photos, some of which I remember from IG. I love the idea of taking a boat ride to see the lights – sounds magical, and the perfect way to get through winter! #farawayfiles

  5. Ruth

    I would like to attend one of these light festivals. Looks like they are getting very popular all over the world. This is a good idea to lure people out of their houses during winter. The installations are so colorful. Even somebody like me would visit (and I avoid the cold as much as possible). #FarawayFiles

  6. I love how this festival mixes modernity with the charm of your lovely city. And also, yes, any reason to get outside in those bleak days when the holidays have just ended, there’s only a few hours of daylight and it’s still freezing. I’m cheering for the earlier sunrises too over here in Madrid! #Farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Are you a football fan in Madrid? Atlético Madrid was up here in Copenhagen playing FCK in the snow and sleet in Europa League match last night! Looked so cold! Brrrrrrr! Cheers from ??

  7. I have never experienced real winter before. Friends who have experienced it feel that while the onset of winter is cool but by January, they wish it would go away soon! 🙂 When cities have activities/events like this to draw people out from homes even though it’s freezing, it’s much better to be out rather than being stuck at home indoors. Love your videos – the lights are amazing! #FarawayFiles.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Thanks Kat! I’m about the same – don’t mind the cold actually, it’s just the dark that gets to me after awhile – so something like this is perfect! Cheers from Copenhagen!

  8. katherinefenech2017

    Shh! Don’t tell San Francisco that I’m saying this but these are way cooler than our lights! The triangles are probably my favourites. #FarawayFiles

  9. Clare Thomson

    Such a fabulous way of lighting up the cold, dark winter. I absolutely love the concept of the Wave and how interactive it is. I’d definitely escape the warm indoors for a while to explore these glorious lights. #FarawayFiles

  10. What a wonderful way of providing inspiration and creativity throughout the dreariest times of the winter. Brilliant stuff, and I am LOVING the look of that Opera House (never seen that before!).

    Greetings from a small dark village in freezing Luxembourg (but I’m not bitter…)


    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      They actually jump off the top of that Opera House in the summer for the Red Bull Cliff Jumping Tour – it’s insanity!

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