Experience the magic of Christmas, Finnish style
Finns love to celebrate the holiday season, and what better way to set the mood than visiting Christmas markets around Finland. In the homeland of Santa Claus, Christmas is celebrated in every city and village throughout December. Experience Finnish Christmas cheer and maybe even meet Santa himself at these Finnish Christmas markets in Helsinki, Rovaniemi, and Turku.
Helsinki Christmas Market
Located in Senate Square is the oldest and most popular Christmas market in the capital. Helsinki Cathedral, designed by Carl Ludwig Engel and completed in 1852, overlooks the scene, and on December 13th, the newly crowned St. Lucia descends the cathedral’s stairs. It’s a Christmas tradition that honors the 4th-century Christian martyr, and it’s an important and symbolic occasion for Finns that’s worth seeing.
In addition to the St. Lucia procession, Helsinki Christmas Market has more than one hundred stalls offering a potpourri of beautifully crafted gifts and Christmas ornaments, as well as locally grown produce, fish, meat, and prepared foods. Santa Claus pays daily visits, and old-fashioned merry-go-round spins in the square’s center, offering free rides for children and a dose of nostalgia for adults.
Rovaniemi’s year-round Santa Claus Village
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland and, legend has it, the hometown of Santa Claus (or Joulupukki) himself. Located just 10 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, this city is known for its beautiful nature and spectacular views of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
Rovaniemi is also home to the beloved Santa Claus Village, which draws thousands of Finnish and international visitors each year and is, in essence, one giant Christmas market. Visitors can meet Santa every day here, and with its handmade crafts, Finnish designs, traditional cuisine, and activities for kids (including reindeer rides and excursions to the “forest of the elves”!), a trip to Rovaniemi during the holidays offer a one-of-a-kind experience in Finland’s original Christmas city.
Turku Christmas Markets
Finland’s oldest and third-largest city, Turku, sits on the southwest coast, just a two-hour train ride from Helsinki. Situated at the mouth of the scenic Aura River, the original town was settled in the 13th century and had been kicking off the Christmas season with a traditional Declaration of Christmas Peace since its inception.
Aside from the declaration, there’s also a giant spruce tree lit up at Turku Cathedral, and the city’s official Christmas street, Yliopistonkatu, is adorned with garlands and light. The main Christmas Market is open on weekends the month before Christmas and has two locations: one in Old Great Square and another in Market Square. While the Old Great Square location is a family-oriented affair with food, concerts, Christmas characters, and a boisterous feel, the one at Market Square is a smaller, more intimate event featuring high-quality products. Visit Turku.fi for more information about Christmas in Turku.