Jul Love Christmas in the Danish Capital
When living in Denmark. I say. Bring on Christmas.
It’s November now. The clock has turned back and the dark descends earlier each evening. By Christmas, it’ll be down to a mere seven hours of daylight per day around Denmark. No need to fret. Don’t be concerned. Bust out your candles and spark on those fairy lights. Let’s get our Jul on. It’s one of the things I adored most about living in Denmark. And Danish Christmas activities kick off quickly – the first Friday of November – with J-Dag and the delivery of julebryg, or Christmas beer all over Copenhagen. Soon the Julemanden, Denmark’s version of Santa, will illuminate the streets with stars, hearts, and twinkles swathed above this pretty city’s historic center.
(Originally posted November 2016 – current as of November 2022)
How to celebrate this beautiful and hyggelige* Jul season when here in the capital? There are so many fun ways to take part and festive things to do, but these are a few of my favorites. Without further ado, here are 10 ways to help you make the most of your Christmas in Copenhagen:
Top 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Copenhagen Christmas
1 | Celebrate the Lights
Copenhagen’s center town is a twisty cobble of charming old streets and colorful buildings. And while grey and potentially dreary this time of year, once strung with swaths of greenery and lights so twinkly, you might not even notice the chill at your cheek. Come the second Saturday of November – this year the 13th – you’ll find singers and sausages and yes, Julemanden too. All will be on hand to get you ready for the season. Let the lights illuminate the city I say.
Of course, if you miss this event, you can witness the wonder any day through the end of the year. My most favorite lane to linger under the lights is probably Kronprinsensgade off Købmagergade, not far from Amagertorv – so sparkly, elegant, and special.
Copenhagen Christmas Opening Event
Saturday 13 November 2022 | 14:30-16:30
Amagertorv/Kultorvet, København K
14:45 | Julemanden and his elves arrive at Amagertov to hand out treats and seasonal tunes from the red uniformed Postman’s Orchestra.
INSIDER TIP: In years, past Santa has come in by boat near the Memorial Anchor at Nyhavn around 14:00. They parade off in a horse-drawn carriage around Kongens Nytorv in front of Hotel D’Angleterre before turning towards the Stork Fountain at Amagertorv.
15:29 | Countdown to the lights turning on with great cheers (at least for 13 popular streets in the inner old city.)
16:00 | The party moves to Kultorvet with tunes by swing band Jack Street.
16:35 | Countdown part two for the lighting of Købmagergade, Rosengården, and Frederiksborggade plus the 3.5-meter reindeer that tops the fountain in Kultorvet’s center.
NOTE: Event may be canceled if it is raining. Check the link to confirm.
Come and experience the magical Christmas spirit on Amagertorv with horse carriage, angels and Santa Claus!”
– Copenhagen Christmas
Copenhagen’s Post Orchestra
2 | Visit a Julemarked | Christmas Markets in Copenhagen
From mid-November, Julemarked (Christmas markets) will pop up on nearly every corner, in every church, and in nearly every historic building. You must try the Danish Christmas eat only available this time of year – a flæskesteg sandwich – roast pork with crackling, red cabbage, pickles, mustard, and sauce. It’s delicious. Washed down with a collectible mug of warm gløgg – Denmark’s version of mulled wine – and you’re ready to tackle some shopping or see more lights.
But while Copenhagen’s biggest Christmas markets have a certain kitschy (touristy) charm, don’t limit yourself to their standard Jule fare. In this city known for design, seek out a design or kunstmarked – an art market. I prefer these unique and special markets full of local artists, creators, and makers selling their one-of-a-kind art and design goods. Click on the link below to check out where to find Copenhagen best little Christmas Markets this year. My favorite is in Kødbyen, the uber-cool Meatpacking district.
READ MORE: COPENHAGEN’S BEST LITTLE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
3 | Try the Gløgg | Scandinavia’s Warm Christmas in a Cup
Gløgg is Denmark’s version of warm spiced mulled wine. Scandis like it a bit sweeter and always serve it with dried fruit, usually raisins and sliced almonds at the bottom of your cup. You’ll find it offered everywhere come Juletime in Copenhagen. Want to know where But some are better than others, of course. For the fanciest cup o’ gløgg, head to the elegant and festive Hotel D’Angleterre near the newly reopened Kongens Nytorv. And while maybe an overnight stay isn’t in your Christmas budget – splurge for a special afternoon out and step inside for their famous white gløgg and marzipan snowballs by the fire. Hotel D’Angleterre fashions theirs with white wine and apricots. A super swanky Christmas treat.
Kongens Nytorv, København K
For more of my favorite cozy spots to sample the gløgg – pop over to this post on the blog:
The City’s Best Gløgg Competition
Want to try the city’s best gløgg? The wonderful food market Torvehallerne hosts an annual competition to taste the top tipples on Sunday the 20th of November, 2022. With back-to-back awards in 2018 and 2019, Torvehallerne wine and spirit purveyor, Noorbohandelen always gets my vote.
So I convinced fellow blogger and Copenhagen ex-local Carolyn Eddie to try a mug with me. We got the inside scoop on what makes theirs a winner. First, they infuse vodka, rum, and calvados with a secret spice mixture (we guessed cinnamon, cloves, and ginger) in casks for two years. Then they take a juicy Tempranillo red wine and blend it with the mulled spirits and top it off with some white port. This gløgg is spicy and strong and always a pretty fair price. Who will take home the top glass this year?
Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København
City’s Best Gløgg Competition at Torvehallerne Food Market
Sunday 20 December 2020 | Times TBD at the moment
Get Cozy in Christianhavns Vinterhytte | Winterhut
Take the Metro to Christianshavn station and cross the street to the little canal cafe that transforms itself come winter. Christianshavn Bådudlejning boards itself up into an adorable little winter hut or vinterhytte. It can get packed in here this time of year, but you can make a reservation or go during midday in the middle of the week. Delicious gløgg and æbleskivers, plus duck confit sandwiches and warm squash soup will warm you up quickly. An adorable electric train chugs around the top of the room to the wooden backdrop of Copenhagen facades.
Christianshavn Bådudlejning & Café Vinterhytte
Overgaden Neden Vandet 29, 1414 København K
4 November – 31 Decemeber 2022
For reservations email email@example.com
4 | See the Tree Lighting at City Hall
A tradition dating back to 1914, every year on the first Sunday of Advent, Julemanden (Santa) parades through the city with the historic Copenhagen Fire Brigade starting at Nyhavn Canal. Around 15:40 he returns to the Rådhuspladsen, City Hall, where he will be met by the mayor. Speeches will be made, songs will be sung, Santa and his Nisse will greet the visitors. Then, in a grand fashion, he will turn on the nearly 20-meter spruce tree, lit with 800 LED lights and 100 Christmas hearts.
Tree Lighting at City Hall
1st Sunday of Advent | 4 December 2022
City Hall Square, 1599 København K
5 | Cruise the Canals by Kayak for Saint Lucia Day
The traditional Swedish Santa Lucia parade with candles takes on a Copenhagen twist as kayaks all alit paddle through the canals on Lucia Day, every 13th of December. To participate, you must have your own vessel. Or you can rent one from Kayak Republic, but plan ahead as this is a popular event. Not ready to get out on the water? Watch safely from shore. We love watching them glide through the classic backdrop of the Christmas market on Nyhavn Canal, singing when they pause for a moment before heading on.
Lucia i Kajak | Lucia in Kayaks
13 December 2022 17:00-18:30
Begins and ends at Kayak Republic Børskaj 12, København K
Alternate Indoors Lucia Celebration in a Beautiful Wine Shop
Don’t want to bundle up and brave the weather to wait in the cold for illuminated kayaks? Book your tickets now for a beautiful evening inside the Kjær & Sommerfeldt Vinhandel. A traditional candlelit procession and singing by the Sankt Annæ Girls Choir will be topped off with the shop’s own glass of gløgg.
Tuesday 13 December 2022 18:00
Kjær & Sommerfeldt Wine Shop
Gammel Mønt 4, 1117 København, Denmark
6 | Listen to Christmas Carols by a Choir
Something about carols being sung by a choir always seems to help set the mood. Seeing them in a historic Danish church decked out for the season? Even better.
The Copenhagen Boys Choir performs Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the beautiful Københavns Domkirken with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra. Click here for tickets.
Friday 16 December 2022 | 17:00
Copenhagen Drengekor | Boys Choir
Københavns Domkirken (Vor Frue Kirke)
Nørregade 8, 1165 København
7 | Get Inspiration at Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas Tables
Stroll down Copenhagen’s pedestrian walking street known as the Strøget for simply stunning light displays and serious shopping. Pop into the flagship store of Royal Copenhagen china and head upstairs to see this year’s inspiring Christmas table displays, Juleborde in Danish. The popular Christmas tables have been impressing visitors since 1963, usually with a new theme each year. From quirky to elegant to artful, you’re sure to find ideas for your own holiday table.
8 | Dance Into Nødderknækkeren | The Nutcracker
This is a tradition near and dear to my heart, having danced in the Nutcracker for seven years of my youth. You have a choice of where to see it performed here in Copenhagen. The Royal Danish Ballet performs George Balanchine’s version at the gorgeous Gamle Scene, or Old Theater at Kongens Nytorv. Or take in the dancing with the Tivoli Ballet where you can experience the costumes and sets designed by the Danish Queen Margrethe herself. Both a magical experiences.
26 November – 21 December 2022
Det Kongelige Teater Gamle Scene
Kongens Nytorv 9, 1017 København K
26 November – 23 December 2022
Tivoli Concert Hall
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
There is no Christmas without the Nutcracker, and it’s great to contribute to Tivoli’s Christmas atmosphere with a Christmas show, even Tivoli in 1874 as a frame. The Christmas Eve of the Nutcracker is one of my absolute favorites; a true classic, embracing adventure and magic for children and their families. With the Queen’s eye for the little extra detail in scenography and costume, the audience is waiting for a world to discover. ” – Tivoli Ballet
9 | Go Ice Skating at Rinks Around Town
Maybe the Lakes will freeze enough this year to be able to skate upon, but until then – you can tie on some blades and glide atop an outdoor rink. Right across the “Kissing Bridge” that takes you across the Copenhagen Harbor from Nyhavn Canal is Broens Gadekøkken, an outdoor street food market that opens a rink come this time of year. Picnic tables to take a break available with food stands open every day from 11:30 to 20:30. Adult beverages are available from bar carts on site until 21:30 on weekdays and 22:30 on weekends.
Opens 4 November for the Winter Season 2022-2023
Strandgade 95, 1401 Copenhagen K
Sun-Thurs | 10:00 – 21:00
Fri-Sat | 10:00 – 22:00
GOOD TO KNOW: The Skøjtebane will be closed on 12/24 for Danish Christmas and limited hours for New Year’s Eve (10:00 – 15:00) and closed New Year’s Day.
Closer to Vesterbro or Frederiksberg? There is another little rink that sits outside the Frederiksberg Castle Garden. Don’t own skates? No problem. You can rent a pair or a penguin! 50dkk per 30 minutes. Usually opens the last Saturday of November to the last Sunday in February.
Frederiskberg Ice Rink
26 November 2022 – 26 February 2023
Frederiksberg Runddel 1, 1621 København V
10 | Juletide (Yuletime) at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
A Copenhagen Christmas is not complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park. Tivoli is all kinds of wonderful in every season, but it shines at Christmas. Even if you aren’t tempted by rides, you’ll want to come for the lights. Tivoli wears Christmas well and drips with charm. I adore their own Julemarked, not to be missed.
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Season
19 November 2022 – 31 December 2022
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
Monday – Friday: 11:00 – 22:00
Saturday – Sunday: 11:00 – 23:00
31 December: 11:00 – 00:30
GOOD TO KNOW: Will you be in Copenhagen ON Christmas – good to know that the entire park will be closed on the 24th as this is Danish Christmas. But opens again on the 25th through New Year’s Eve.
Are you lucky enough to stay through New Year’s Eve? I think Copenhagen has one of the best New Year’s celebrations in the world. And I’ve seen a few! The holiday season is seriously spectacular here in Denmark. Cheers from Copenhagen this Christmas season. – Erin
Lots more on the blog all about Christmas in Denmark:
hyggelige* = full of hygge, that untranslatable Danish word for a sense of cozy contentment.