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Celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen: Tips and Traditions for Expats

Celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen near a Christmas tree

As an expat in Denmark, experiencing Christmas in Copenhagen is a must. The Danes are known for their love of hygge and their beautiful Christmas traditions, which transform the city into a winter wonderland. In this article, we’ll give you 25 tips and ideas for celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen like a local.

Introduction to Christmas in Copenhagen

Christmas is a magical time in Copenhagen. The city is decorated with twinkling lights, and the streets are lined with Christmas markets and festive decorations. From traditional Danish foods to cozy winter activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the holiday season.

Tivoli Gardens: The Ultimate Christmas Destination

Tivoli Gardens is a must-visit destination during the Christmas season. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland, with thousands of twinkling lights, festive decorations, and lots of traditional Danish food and drinks. Make sure to try some gløgg, a hot mulled wine served with raisins and almonds. It’s the perfect drink to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

Christmas Markets in Copenhagen

A Christmas Market in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is home to many Christmas markets, where you can find traditional Danish Christmas decorations and handmade gifts. Some of the most popular Christmas markets include:

  • Nyhavn Christmas Market: Located in the historic Nyhavn district, this market offers a beautiful setting and a wide range of vendors selling everything from mulled wine to handmade crafts.
  • Højbro Plads Christmas Market: This market is located in the heart of the city and features traditional Danish Christmas decorations and food.
  • Kongens Nytorv Christmas Market: This market is located in front of the Royal Danish Theatre and is known for its cozy atmosphere and beautiful Christmas lights.

Danish Christmas Decorations

A wreath on a white door

Danish Christmas decorations are simple yet beautiful. From paper hearts to wooden ornaments, the Danes know how to create a cozy and festive atmosphere. You can find traditional Danish Christmas decorations at many of the Christmas markets in Copenhagen, as well as at stores like Søstrene Grene and Flying Tiger Copenhagen.

Traditional Danish Christmas Food

Danish Christmas food is hearty and delicious. Some of the most popular dishes include:

  • Roast pork: A classic Danish Christmas dish, served with potatoes, gravy, and red cabbage.
  • Risengrød: A traditional Danish rice pudding, often served with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Æbleskiver: Small, fluffy pancakes served with jam and powdered sugar.
  • Medisterpølse: A type of Danish sausage made from pork and spices.

How to Make Æbleskiver at Home

If you want to make traditional Danish æbleskiver at home, you’ll need a special æbleskiver pan. You can find them at most kitchen stores, as well as online. Here’s a recipe for making æbleskiver:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • Butter or oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Heat the æbleskiver pan over medium-high heat and add a small amount of butter or oil to each well.
  5. Pour the batter into each well, filling them about 2/3 of the way full.
  6. 6. As the æbleskiver begin to cook, use a skewer or fork to flip them over and cook the other side.
  7. Once the æbleskiver are golden brown on both sides, remove them from the pan and serve with your choice of jam and powdered sugar.

Christmas Shopping in Copenhagen

Celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen with unique gifts

If you’re looking for unique Christmas gifts, Copenhagen has plenty of options. From handmade crafts to designer clothing, you’re sure to find something special for everyone on your list. Some of the best places to shop for Christmas gifts in Copenhagen include:

  • Strøget: This pedestrian shopping street is home to many popular stores and designer brands, as well as smaller boutiques and gift shops.
  • Illums Bolighus: This design store is known for its beautiful Scandinavian home goods and accessories.
  • Hay House: This Danish design store offers a wide range of stylish furniture, decor, and accessories.

Hygge: The Danish Way of Coziness

Hygge while celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen

Hygge is a Danish concept that’s all about coziness, warmth, and togetherness. During the Christmas season, you’ll see hygge everywhere in Copenhagen. To experience hygge yourself, cozy up with a warm blanket and a good book, or enjoy a cup of hot cocoa with friends and family. Some of the best places to experience hygge in Copenhagen include:

  • The Living Room: This cozy cafe is the perfect place to relax with a cup of coffee and a book.
  • Kaffestuen: This cafe serves traditional Danish pastries and is known for its cozy atmosphere.
  • Sankt Peders Bageri: This bakery is a local favorite, serving delicious Danish pastries and bread.

Ice Skating in Copenhagen During Christmas

Ice skating is a popular winter activity in Copenhagen. During the Christmas season, you can lace up your skates and hit the ice at several locations around the city, including:

  • Tivoli Gardens: Tivoli Gardens has a beautiful ice skating rink in the heart of the park.
  • Frederiksberg Runddel: This public square has a large ice skating rink that’s free to use.
  • Østerbro Stadium: This outdoor ice skating rink is open from December to February and offers skate rentals.

Christmas Concerts and Events in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is home to many Christmas concerts and events, ranging from classical music performances to Christmas markets and festivals. If you are celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen, some of the most popular events include:

  • Copenhagen Christmas Markets: These markets offer a festive atmosphere and a wide range of vendors selling everything from handmade crafts to traditional Danish food.
  • Christmas at Tivoli: Tivoli Gardens hosts a variety of Christmas concerts and events throughout the season, including a traditional Christmas concert with the Tivoli Boys Guard.
  • Royal Danish Orchestra Christmas Concerts: The Royal Danish Orchestra hosts a series of Christmas concerts throughout December, featuring classical music and Christmas carols.

Visiting Copenhagen’s Churches During the Holiday Season

Copenhagen has many beautiful churches that are worth visiting during the holiday season. Some of the most popular churches include:

  • Church of Our Lady: This beautiful cathedral is located in the heart of Copenhagen and features stunning architecture and artwork.
  • Frederik’s Church: Also known as the Marble Church, this impressive church is located near Amalienborg Palace and features a beautiful dome and intricate interior.
  • Vor Frelsers Kirke: This church is known for its stunning spiral staircase and beautiful baroque architecture.

Christmas Lights and Decorations in the City

The Nyhavn district

Copenhagen is known for its beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. Some of the best places to see Christmas lights and decorations in the city include:

  • Strøget: This pedestrian shopping street is lined with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations.
  • Nyhavn: The historic Nyhavn district is decorated with festive lights and Christmas decorations, creating a beautiful and cozy atmosphere.
  • Tivoli Gardens: Tivoli Gardens is known for its stunning Christmas lights and decorations, which transform the park into a magical winter wonderland.

How to Celebrate Christmas in Copenhagen on a Budget

Celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of affordable ways to enjoy the holiday season in the city, including:

  • Walking tours: Take a free walking tour of the city to see the Christmas lights and decorations.
  • DIY decorations: Make your own Danish Christmas decorations at home using materials like paper, string, and pine cones.
  • Outdoor activities: Ice skating, sledding, and winter walks are all free or low-cost activities that you can enjoy in Copenhagen during the Christmas season.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Copenhagen

New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in Copenhagen, with many parties and events taking place throughout the city. Some of the best ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen include:

  • Fireworks at Tivoli: Tivoli Gardens puts on a spectacular fireworks display at midnight to ring in the new year.
  • Harbour Cruise: Take a New Year’s Eve harbour cruise to see the fireworks from a different perspective.
  • Street Parties: The streets of Copenhagen come alive on New Year’s Eve, with many people celebrating in the city center.

Danish Christmas Traditions for Children

Danish Christmas traditions are fun for kids and adults alike. Some of the most popular traditions for children include:

  • Advent Calendar: Children in Denmark receive an Advent calendar on December 1st, which they open each day to reveal a small gift or treat.
  • Christmas Calendar: Many Danish families also have a Christmas calendar, which counts down the days until Christmas with a small gift or activity each day.
  • Nisse: Nisse is a mischievous Christmas elf who plays tricks on people during the holiday season. Children in Denmark often leave a bowl of porridge out for Nisse as a way to appease him.

Christmas Movie Screenings in Copenhagen

Copenhagen has many movie theaters that show classic Christmas movies during the holiday season. So, if you are celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen, here are some of the most popular screenings:

  • The Royal Theatre: The Royal Theatre shows a variety of Christmas-themed movies and performances throughout the season.
  • Cinemateket: Cinemateket is a classic movie theater that often shows Christmas movies during the holiday season.
  • Grand Teatret: Grand Teatret is a beautiful old movie theater that shows a variety of movies throughout the year, including Christmas classics.

Where to Find the Best Christmas Trees in Copenhagen

If you want to decorate your own Christmas tree in Copenhagen, you have several options for finding the perfect tree. Some of the best places to buy Christmas trees in Copenhagen include:

  • Supermarkets: Many supermarkets, including Netto and Føtex, sell Christmas trees during the holiday season.
  • Christmas Tree Farms: You can find several Christmas tree farms just outside of Copenhagen, where you can choose your own tree and cut it down yourself.
  • Christmas Tree Stands: There are also many Christmas tree stands throughout the city, selling a variety of sizes and types of trees.

Danish Christmas Desserts and Sweets

Danish Christmas desserts and sweets are a delicious way to indulge during the holiday season. Some of the most popular treats include:

  • Pebernødder: These small, spiced cookies are a traditional Danish Christmas treat.

Klejner: Klejner are fried dough cookies that are often served with powdered sugar and jam.

  • Marzipan: Marzipan is a sweet almond paste that’s often shaped into festive shapes and used as a decoration or gift.
  • Peppernuts: Peppernuts are small, crunchy cookies made with spices like cinnamon and ginger.

Christmas Traditions of Copenhagen’s Immigrant Communities

Copenhagen is a diverse city with many immigrant communities, each with their own unique Christmas traditions. Some of the most popular immigrant Christmas traditions in Copenhagen include:

  • Turkish Christmas: Many Turkish families in Copenhagen celebrate Christmas with a big feast and traditional Turkish dishes like lamb and baklava.
  • Somali Christmas: Somali families in Copenhagen often celebrate Christmas with a big family gathering and traditional Somali dishes like sambusa and maraq.
  • Thai Christmas: Thai families in Copenhagen celebrate Christmas with a mix of traditional Thai dishes and festive European foods like roast pork and mulled wine.

Christmas Day in Copenhagen: What to Expect

On Christmas Day, many businesses and restaurants in Copenhagen are closed, and the city is quiet and peaceful. If you’re celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Public Transportation: Public transportation in Copenhagen operates on a reduced schedule on Christmas Day, so be sure to check the schedule in advance.
  • Restaurants: Many restaurants in Copenhagen are closed on Christmas Day, so it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance if you plan to dine out.
  • Festive Walks: Take a festive walk through the city on Christmas Day to see the beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.

Danish Christmas Gifts and Souvenirs

If you’re looking for unique Christmas gifts and souvenirs to bring home from Copenhagen, here are a few ideas:

  • Danish Design: Copenhagen is known for its beautiful Scandinavian design, and there are many stores and boutiques where you can find unique home goods and accessories.
  • Christmas Decorations: Traditional Danish Christmas decorations like paper hearts, wooden ornaments, and straw stars make great gifts and souvenirs.
  • Danish Food and Drink: Bring home a taste of Denmark with traditional Danish foods like marzipan, Æbleskiver mix, and Danish beer or aquavit.

Best Photo Spots for Christmas-Themed Pictures

Copenhagen is a beautiful city year-round, but it’s especially picturesque during the Christmas season. If you want to be celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen, here are a few of the best spots for taking festive photos:

  • Tivoli Gardens: The beautiful lights and decorations at Tivoli Gardens make for stunning photos.
  • Nyhavn: The colorful houses and festive decorations in Nyhavn are perfect for holiday-themed photos.
  • Kongens Nytorv: The large Christmas tree and beautiful lights at Kongens Nytorv make for a classic holiday photo backdrop.

Sustainable Christmas Practices in Copenhagen

If you want to celebrate Christmas in a sustainable way, there are many eco-friendly practices you can adopt in Copenhagen. Here are a few ideas:

  • Buy a Live Christmas Tree: Rather than buying a cut tree, consider buying a live tree that can be planted after the holiday season.
  • Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping: Instead of using traditional gift wrap, consider using recycled or biodegradable wrapping paper, or wrap gifts in fabric or reusable bags.
  • Shop Locally: Support local businesses and artisans by shopping for Christmas gifts and decorations at markets and small shops.


Celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen is a wonderful way to experience Danish culture and traditions. From cozy hygge cafes to festive Christmas markets, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the holiday season in the city. We hope these tips and

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