10 Ways to Make the Most of Christmas in Copenhagen

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:

Illuminated heart lights across the Strøget, Copenhagen’s pedestrian shopping street

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.

Kronprinsensgade cascade of Christmas lights

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

Illum Department store illuminates Købmagersgade
Giant reindeer at Kultorvet

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.

Nyhavn Canal Julemarked (Christmas Market)
Nyhavn Canal Julemarked
View of Højbroplads Julemarked


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.

Hotel D’Angleterre
Kongens Nytorv, København K

For more of my favorite cozy spots to sample the gløgg – pop over to this post on the blog:


READ MORE: DANISH CHRISTMAS GLØGG – WHERE TO TASTE THE BEST AND HOW TO MAKE IT AT HOME

Hotel D’Angleterre crowns Kongens Nytorv
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?

Noorbohandelen
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 cbukontakt@gmail.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

Lucia i Kajak, Nyhavn Canal
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


RELATED: SAVOR SOME SWEDISH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS THIS YEAR

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.

Julekoncert

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.

Royal Copenhagen Flagship Store Juleborde | Christmas Tables
Amagertorv 6, 1160 København
Friday 11 November 2022
Open during shop hours – see here for specific days and times.


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.

Nødderknækkeren / The Royal Danish Ballet Nutcracker

26 November – 21 December 2022
Det Kongelige Teater Gamle Scene
Kongens Nytorv 9, 1017 København K

Nødderknækkeren / The Tivoli Ballet Nutcracker

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.

Broens Skøjtebane
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.

White Gløgg from Tivoli’s Gemyse Café


READ MORE: COPENHAGEN HAS THE BEST NEW YEAR’S EVE IN THE WORLD

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:

Best Little Christmas Markets in Copenhagen
A Scandinavian Winter Playlist to Create Your Own Hygge
Tasting Danish Christmas Food – Bloggers Share Their Favorites
Don’t Mess With Danish Christmas Dinner
Where to try Risengrød | Get Danish Christmas Porridge at Grød
Denmark is Growing a Sustainable Christmas Season With Organic Trees
Savor Some Christmas Traditions From Sweden This Season

10 Things to Do in Copenhagen at Christmas | Oregon Girl Around the World

hyggelige* = full of hygge, that untranslatable Danish word for a sense of cozy contentment.

Fiolstræde and cozy Paludan Book Cafe

24 thoughts on “10 Ways to Make the Most of Christmas in Copenhagen

  1. Pingback: Things I am Thankful for Living In Denmark - oregon girl around the world

  2. Pingback: Faraway Files #9 - oregon girl around the world

  3. Oh I love it, looks gorgeous – made for Christmas! One of those cities where you just have to go full-on festive and embrace the freak out of it. White gløgg and marcipan snowballs by the fire – not sure what that is but I want all of it!!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! Embrace the freak out of I try! Gløgg is the Scandi version of mulled wine – usually has some slivered almonds and dried fruit at the bottom – some people eat, some just like for flavor. Marcipan snowballs – I’ll send you a pic!

  4. Pingback: Tasting Danish Christmas Food - Bloggers Share Their Favorites - oregon girl around the world

  5. Pingback: Reasons to Visit Copenhagen in Winter - oregon girl around the world

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Where in Sweden? We spent a quiet but super quiet Christmas in West Sweden two years ago! I love Scandi Christmas. Glædelig Jul from Denmark!

  6. Hi, what time in December would you recommend? I’m looking at beginning of December, but late November is also available. When do the lights start? I’ve been there a couple of years ago for a month in the summer, but there is a chance I might move there. My plan is to scout how I might deal with the winter and combine it with Christmas activities. Is late Nov. equally nice?
    Thank you.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Hej from here! If you really want to test your Danish winter skills – you should come in January when the twinkly hygge is all boxed up for the year. But – Christmas in Copenhagen is pretty darn cute and you can get it late November for sure. Once the Christmas beer has been ceremoniously delivered on J-Day (November 1, 2019) the season has officially started. To get the most bang for your buck though – I’d try for the first weekend in December when the huge tree at City Hall is turned on for the four weeks up to Christmas. Tons of little local artisan Julemarked (Christmas markets) are on that weekend as well. Some of the more commercial Christmas markets will be going late November though and there will be plenty of gløgg to try all around town. Are you moving for a job? Or school? Cheers!

      1. Hi, This is super helpful, thank you! It would be for my partners job, probably for several years. We both really liked it, but 6h of daylight/day is a bit scary…

      2. oregongirlaroundtheworld

        It’s a very lovely place to live – we’ve been here 5 years (also said it would probably be a couple years). And the shortest day here offers 7 whole hours of daylight. It’s really the worst in January, but there are ways of getting through it! And in summer you get 17.5 hours of daylight – so you soak it all up!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Define winter. Where are you coming from? It doesn’t snow that much here, but it is damp and cold and dark. Danes say spring starts March 1, but we’ve had flurries as late as April 1 – and sometimes a month of sun in Feb. it all depends. The hardest part for me is the dark. But I come from Oregon where winter is wet and grey as well.

  7. Yes, it would depend. I am used to all kinds of winters, I grew up in Slovenia, where we used to get snow and cold(up to -10), winter would be late Nov. to end of Feb, but the snow wouldn’t really stay. Now it is much milder. I experienced one of the coldest winters in Poland – in 2009 that the frost started to give way in May( that was tough) and my partner is Canadian, I have been there for winter breaks, also cold and snow tends to stay for longer periods. We lived in Paris for 4 years, where it’snot very cold, just moist and grey also – it’s the gray that is the downer…

  8. The canopy of twinkly lights over the Kronprinsessegade street looks wonderful. I would have loved to celebrate Christmas in Copenhagen had I not planned already otherwise. Next year, I will enjoy the festival here.

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