The enchanting Christmas season in Helsinki began on Saturday, November 18th, with the city’s iconic Aleksanterinkatu street lighting up in festive splendour. The event will also feature a captivating Christmas parade with none other than Santa Claus himself delivering warm greetings from the Arctic Circle. Helsinki’s Christmas festivities promise many experiences, including sustainable shopping opportunities and a heartwarming sense of togetherness.
The centrepiece of this festive extravaganza is the Helsinki Christmas Market in Senate Square, offering a delightful array of sustainable gifts and the chance to support local artisans. The market has traditional Finnish Christmas scents, from mulled wine and spiced coffees to homemade gingerbread cookies and fragrant fir branches. The warm glow of festive lights, hearty Christmas delicacies, and the comforting embrace of saunas make the winter chill cozier. Helsinki’s Christmas celebrations are marked by charming markets, captivating concerts, and memorable gatherings with friends and family—a time to unwind while cherishing old and new traditions.
The season’s magic truly unfolds on November 18th, as Aleksanterinkatu street lights up in a dazzling display. The city’s Mayor will have the honour of illuminating the festive lights, inviting everyone to partake in the celebrations and witness the enchanting Christmas parade that meanders through the city streets. At the northern end of Aleksanterinkatu, Stockmann’s department store unveils its annual Christmas window display—a cherished tradition since 1949. This year’s theme features elves assisting fairytale forest animals, with glittering hummingbirds bearing small Christmas gifts through the sky.
Adding to the enchantment is the newly opened Moomin Shop on the Esplanade, debuting on November 17th. This shop brings Tove Jansson’s world of Midsummer Madness to life in exquisite detail. Located near the Swedish Theatre at the end of Esplanade Park, this experiential shop pays tribute to the classic Moomin book by the Helsinki-based author and artist. The Moomin Shop is a fitting addition to a location where Tove Jansson’s first-ever theatre production of her book, “Comet in Moominland,” premiered in 1949—the same year the city’s Christmas lights tradition began.
The Helsinki Christmas Market, affectionately known as “Tuomaan Markkinat” or the “St. Thomas Market,” is a must-visit for those seeking sustainable and unique gifts. Nestled in Senate Square, the market boasts an old-fashioned wooden carousel—a beloved tradition for local families. Children can enjoy free rides on the carousel, with kindergarteners and schoolchildren forming joyful queues throughout the day. Visitors can savour mulled wine and local Christmas delights while knowing the market strongly emphasises sustainable development. EcoCompass certification ensures that the event’s environmental impact is responsibly managed, with vendors and restaurants chosen for their commitment to responsible production and operations. The market showcases primary producers and small artisans, offering a sustainable alternative to mass-produced gifts and decorations. The Helsinki Christmas Market is open from December 1st to December 22nd, 2023.
Helsinki boasts a variety of other Christmas markets scattered across the city in the run-up to the holiday season. Fans of Finnish design can explore “Little Finlandia” near the iconic Finlandia Hall, where the “Ornamo’s Design Christmas X Designkaverit” event brings together Finnish design makers and brands on December 9th and 10th, 2023. Those searching for vegan treats and ethical gifts should attend the VegeXmas event at Suvilahti on December 16th and 17th. During the same weekend, visitors can explore the Christmas market at the nearby Teurastamo, promising delightful seasonal scents, exquisite handicrafts, and a jovial atmosphere. For a comprehensive list of Christmas markets and events, consult the MyHelsinki event calendar.
A unique aspect of Christmas in Helsinki is the opportunity to embrace the sea and nature, cherished by the locals. The winter season offers the perfect occasion to hop on a ferry to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, where the archipelago’s winter charm unfolds, along with insights into Suomenlinna’s history through the Lighthouse Keeper’s Route—an educational trail that can be walked independently or with a guide. The Suomenlinna Toy Museum, adorned with Christmas elves and decorations, promises an authentic Christmas atmosphere. The museum and its cozy café will be open on weekends from November 25th to December 17th and daily from December 26th, 2023, to January 7th, 2024.
Visitors can explore Seurasaari, one of Helsinki’s over 300 islands for an enchanting Christmas journey. The “Christmas Path at Seurasaari” offers families a free-of-charge attraction, providing glimpses of Finnish Christmas traditions. This year, the event takes place on Sunday, December 10th.
As the holiday season approaches, Helsinki invites you to immerse yourself in the magic of Christmas, with lights illuminating the city, sustainable gifts filling its markets, and a heartwarming sense of togetherness embracing all. Discover more about Christmas in Helsinki at MyHelsinki.fi.
Written by: Jill Walsh
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