Countdown to Christmas: Magical Helsinki Christmas Markets
Helsinki is the Christmas City - visit one of the magical Christmas markets during your stay.
The first substantial snow usually arrives in time for Christmas in the Finnish capital, draping the city in white and creating an appropriately festive ambience. Join in with the locals and celebrate Christmas with your family in the traditional way; warming open fires, carol singing, old fashioned markets, hugs from Santa, shopping and lovely cosy restaurants.
Here are some suggestions for activities to enjoy in Helsinki before your visit to Santa's Lapland.
Seurasaari Christmas Path (December)
The Seurasaari Christmas Path is a pre-Christmas event for families with children. It gives children and the young at heart the possibility to have a look into the world of fairy tales and to learn old Finnish Christmas traditions, not forgetting the basic message of Christmas. The Path spreads in front of you, offering some 30 different activities. Of course Father Christmas with Mrs Claus will also visit.
Typically held in the afternoon on the middle Sunday of December.
St Thomas Market (December)
This annual Christmas event takes place at the beautiful Senate Square, with over 120 booths selling everything from handicrafts to canned foods for the Christmas table. Stroll among the booths and enjoy the old-fashioned Christmas atmosphere. Watch artisans at work and say hi to Santa Claus.
Great food has become a priority of this market so make sure you enjoy the food stalls & food court.
Very cool is the popular Christmas Sauna in the inner courtyard of the Bock House. The Winter Terrace–an idyllic hidden yard–is found right by the sauna, inviting to enjoy vin chaud and other refreshments.
Note though that the dates for the market are typically from 04 Dec until 22 Dec. Closed on the 23 & 24 Dec. Open from 11am until 8pm so don't arrive too late. The food court on Friday & Saturday nights stays open a little later.
Suomenlinna Christmas Event (November-December weekend)
King Gustav III and the Old Militia of Helsinki is open in the Christmas season on Suomenlinna with a resounding cannon salute. Visitors can buy products made by local craftspeople and other artists, taste Christmas delicacies in the cafes and restaurants, and visit some of the museums and craft workshops. Children can also follow the Fortress Gnome’s route around the fortress.
There is a printable daily schedule on the website detailing all the concerts, carols and walking tours during the event. Highlights include the 18th Century Christmas Market and the lovely Christmas Mass.
This isn't a market as such but it is an active & fun thing to do before or after your market visits. Helsinki Icepark at Railway Station Square is a perfect way to enjoy Finnish winter in an urban way. It makes it easy to enjoy skating or simply a cup of hot chocolate in the cafe while watching the others skate. The Icepark offers its visitors entertaining and instructive programs every day including regular skating lessons by licensed instructors. Skates are available for rent; ice hockey sticks are not allowed. The Park also hosts events, from live music to special performances.
Opening hours: Mon–Fri 2 pm – 9 pm, Sat 10 am – 9 pm & Sun 10 am – 6 pm
Christmas Shopping in Helsinki
The switching-on of the Christmas lights along Aleksanterinkatu – the official Christmas street – is a sure sign that the festive season is under way. Shop windows are decorated to outbid each other in the Christmas shopper stakes. Aleksanterinkatu, one of Helsinki’s best known shopping streets, is a natural focus for gift seekers. Lights typically get switched on the third Sunday of November, 2pm.
The unveiling of the Christmas window in the Stockmann department store on the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Keskuskatu is an awaited annual event for young Helsinki citizens. Generally the windows opened on the third Sunday of Novemberfrom 2pm but check when you are going for the opening date.
Images from Visit Helsinki and Suomenlinna.