These Amazing X Mas Markets will make you want to fly to Scandinavia: Denmark, Sweden & Norway!

WHAT GOES ON IN A NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS MARKET?

In Norway Christmas lasts for more than a few days: Many rituals are celebrated the entire season. What makes it magical is the snow that envelopes most of the country during the holiday season! Picture this: The earthy warmth from open fires, fragrance of clementine peels and spruce branches, and the sound of kids goofing around in snow!

Who doesn’t love Christmas? The Nordic countries just do it a bit better, I am told. The short days, the long dark nights and cold weather of winter calls for something special. Since early December, people start baking Christmas cookies. Much like the tradition during Diwali in India, people buy gifts, clean house and buy new clothes.Pre-Christmas celebrations are no less significant. Churches and auditoriums host Christmas concerts all over the nation. In schools kids participate in the Santa Lucia celebration on December 13th.

Christmas Eve (December 24th) is a big day what with people indulging in big family dinners. Those tourists who don’t have access to the food cooked at locals homes can try the traditional dishes at restaurants during the season. Goro, krumkaker or berlinekrans available in bakeries and supermarkets are some of the popular Norwegian Christmas cookies

It is more exciting for the kids. Which kid does not like to open the gifts waiting under the Christmas tree. The occasional visit from the Santa Claus is the cherry on the cake! In fact the entire month of December is laced with festive fever, ending only with grand celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Read more about X Mas Markets in Norway here

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 CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN SWEDEN:

The cities, small towns and nondescript villages of Sweden glow against the white winter landscape during X Mas. Surreal indeed! The streets of Sweden come alive every Christmas thanks to the fresh nip in the air, rosy cheeked revellers and infectious festive fervour. A scarf, a hat and gloves in place and you are ready for the skating-rink. Not to forget, leisurely walks through the festive Christmas markets of StockholmGothenburg and Malmö. A glass of spicy mulled wine (glögg) provides the needed warmth. The handicrafts and Christmas decorations vie for attention when you are not busy filling your face with X Mas special treats and traditional Swedish Christmas sweets.

Lucia festival

On, or the week before December 13th, the 400-year old tradition of the ‘queen of light’, St. Lucia is a must see. Expect church concerts and processions. On this day, thousands of young girls emerge from the darkness of a Swedish winters day and gently silence the crowds with a procession of light., Dressed in flowing white gowns as Lucia’s maidens, each girl holds a candle and adorns a wreath of glowing candles in the hair. The children solemnly proceed through cities, towns and churches, handing out saffron buns and singing Lucia’s beautiful melodies. They dress up as gingerbread men, elves and stjärngossar. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such magic?

 

Christmas at Santa World

What’s more? If you visit the heart of Dalarna, central Sweden, you can visit Santa’s workshop, meet his reindeer and catch a glimpse of the Christmas present storage. You can even visit Santa’s house personally give him a wish list so that you don’t end up getting disappointing gifts. Learn more about the Santa World by clicking here.

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THE BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS OF DENMARK:

If you visit Denmark’s atmospheric Christmas markets, it might end up becoming your best Christmas Shopping experience ever. Come November, and the streets of Denmark explodes with inimitable X Mas markets. Think the famous Tivoli Christmas market or the traditional Christmas markets at castles and manor houses around Denmark. Nothing works best than warming yourself with a serving of mulled wine (gløgg) Not to forget the perfect Danish design gifts and decorations. Check more here

Other great places to enjoY X Mas markets are Roskilde, Stændertorvet Market Square. Think of bingeing on the local delicacies or indulging in the Christmas gift hunting in the neat decorated wooden huts embellished with Christmas decorations, glass art , illustrations knitwear, pottery, jewellery, the works!

 

A Christmas fair for kids- On weekends, kids can let their hair down in creative Christmas workshops, all set up with the help of local actors. BEVAR, a social economic company encourages the kids to create their own Christmas decorations by recycling used garments. Experiences like musical concerts, a Christmas train running through the city etc make it even more magical.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MAGIC THAT SCANDINAVIAN NATIONS ARE!

I have never experienced a ‘real Christmas market’ and I hope one day I can fly to all of these magical Scandinavian countries and see it for myself. It sure sounds like otherworldly.

 

The view from my #SoulWindow must be magical!

Disclaimer: It is a promotional blog based upon my research. All pictures are courtesy Scandinavia Tourism.

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The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen!

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SCANDINAVIA – THE LAND OF MIDNIGHT SUN, NORTHERN LIGHTS, FJORDS AND MORE! WHO WANTS TO GO?

Life is acting strange this year. Just when I was thinking of Jordan earlier this year, an invite for a FAM to Jordan came out of the blue. Similar such instances happened through the year. Last week when I was still traveling in Ladakh on assignment, I don’t know why I was dreaming of Europe. An invite from Scandinavian Tourism Board came my way within few days. Just after I landed in Delhi from Leh, I spent a lovely evening interacting with representatives from different tourism related entities from Scandinavia.

I had always been attracted towards the Scandinavian region which comprises of 3 countries Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Exciting destinations like

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Scandinavian Countries are great for biking enthusiasts (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

Iceland, Faroe Island and Finland are next door. This unique region in Europe lies north of Baltic Sea. Despite its huge size the density is low here. Mr. Mohit, the Indian representative, took us through a presentation of what to see/do/eat/ in the Scadinavian region, smile never escaping his lips. My curiosity in Scandinavia piqued during my Hotel management days, when we were taught how to cook Scandinavian cuisine. Since that time, which is more than a decade, I had wanted to see Scandinavia. Fjords, Northern Lights, Midnight Sun, Royal History, Nordic Cuisine, Cutting-edge Design, Sustainable Living, UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sami culture and the Vikings etc make it an exciting destination.

 

The venue at the Imperial Hotel was perfect for the High Tea event as it facilitated in peace, the one on one interaction with the many representatives. They educated me about the company they represented. As they spoke about the wonders of Scandinavia, I was imagining in my mind the wild landscapes, food, wildlife, people and the urban spaces.

DENMARK

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The Little Mermaid (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

The smallest of the 3 Scandinavian nations, it is also known as the ‘happiest nation in the world’ .Denmark is a flatland known for its great beaches, a Viking heritage, Royal palaces (with a history of 1000 years) etc. It’s capital Copenhagen is great for those who love shopping, museums, public gardens, trendy cafes, nightlife. The famous Mermaid statue is also in Copenhagen. Legoland in Denmark is world’s first LEGO theme park. It is also the Europe’s largest. It’s a relaxed paced city best explored by paddle or pedal.  A biker’s paradise, there are designated lanes and bridges only for bicycle enthusiasts.

Aarhus, the port town is the best place for Nordic inspired cuisine. The cuisine has strong ties with nature. There are a large number of Indian restaurants in Scandinavia, including many vegetarian and vegan options. The historic town of Roskilde, houses the Viking Ship museum (11th century vessels, anyone?) Though small in size, Denmark

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Bike On! Why I love the idea of Scandinavia (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

still has much to offer. The ferry service from Denmark to Norway sounds particularly exciting. Connecting the two capitals, Copenhagen and Oslo respectively, the cruise offers comfortable stay, live music, exciting restaurants and bars to choose from, a casino, wellness spa and tax free shopping. Not to forget the views one sees en route.  What’s not to love? I think it’s a pretty cool idea to see two capitals in a short span of time.

 

NORWAY

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I am excited to see Fjords one day! Are you too (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

The brochures tell me that you have to see the Norway’s fjords to believe it. The Nature fan that I am, such destinations attracts me the most. Though I love urban spaces equally, but somehow nature always excites me more. Sparsely populated, Norway hides many miracles under its sleeves. Northern Lights, midnight Sun, fjords, Arctic island etc are one of them. Oslo, the capital city has something for everyone. Cities like Bergen (Gateway to fjords, also the rainiest city in Europe), Alesund (Art Nouveau Centre), Stavanger (Medieval Churches, Iron Age homes, Stone Age caves) make Norway a destination par excellence.

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The colorful city of Bergen is gateway to fjords (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

As I mentioned earlier, in the ‘Land of Midnight Sun’ the sun never sets here in summers, which is between late May and late July. So, you still have lot of time for planning! Tromso is the best place for seeing the famous Aurora Borealis, popularly called, Northern Lights. In recent years, Indians have shown great interest in this unique phenomenon. Many Indians have travelled or are planning to travel to Norway, especially to catch Northern Lights in action. I am told that a train ride from Oslo to Bergen is amongst one of the top five picturesque train journeys in the world.

SWEDEN

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Harbour of Gotherburg, Sweden

Credit for above picture – Göran Assner/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden is the largest country of Scandinavia in terms of population and area. I am a big fan of grabbing the window seat of trains and watch the landscape change. I was excited to learn that Sweden Railways offer many of such opportunities. It’s a great way to see Sweden’s virgin countryside, lakes, cities, mountains, the works. The destinations which these high speed trains run to are extraordinary – Lapland (The midnight Sun & Northern Lights), Jamtland (Action & Relaxation), Dalarna ( Festivities & Tradition), Stockholm (Capital city with lots of history), Smaland (fairy tales & handicrafts) , Gotenborg (coast and culture). During the presentation, a very interesting museum Vasa Museet impressed me. The Vasa ship which sank in Stockholm in 1628 was salvaged after rotting for 333 years in deep sea. It has now been restored and preserved and is world’s only preserved 17th century ship.

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Jamtland

Picture above credit – Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

The ABBA museum is another iconic place.It is dedicated to the world’s most iconic music band where you can dress up as pop stars and sing and dance. Also called the Venice of the North, many bill Stockholm as one of the most beautiful cities of the world! With a history dating back to 8th century, the city has preserved many old buildings, palaces and medieval structures.

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Awaken the viking in you! (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism Board)

I am mighty impressed with the idea of seeing the Scandinavian countries. It seems like a perfect place to go holidaying with family, friends or even solo. It is also a fab destination for the honeymooners. The outdoor enthusiast that I am, the many walking trails, hikes, biking options, cruising opportunities and natural wonders make it an exciting destination for me. I googled the map and realized that Scandinavia is really closer than I had thought.

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Midnight Sun at Torne River, Swedish Lapland

Credit for picture above – Tomas Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

Its easy access and connectivity across all the capitals of Scandinavia – Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen makes it simple for the Indian traveller to discover all the three countries together.  International airlines like Emirates, Qatar and Turkish Airlines offer direct connectivity from their hubs. And let me tell you the time difference in summers is only three and half hours. Scandinavia seems even closer when you find almost everyone speaking fluent English, even though it’s not their first language. I was happy to know that these days many Indians are showing interest in visiting these 3 countries. I think, its time that Indians consider Scandinavia as their preferred choice for holidaying in Europe; beyond the tried and tested, run of the mill destinations. I can’t wait to be there and already have a mental itinerary I am dreaming of!

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CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE AMAZING CHRISTMAS MARKETS OF SCANDINAVIA

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The cool bunch of people I interacted with at Imperial, New Delhi. (Credit – Scandinavia Tourism)

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Stadshuset och Stockholm Waterfront Building från Södermalm.
City Hall and Stockholm Waterfront Building (Credit : Scandinavian Tourism)

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