Six Christmas events to kick off December in Sweden

December is officially under way and that means the Christmas season is starting to pick up pace. Here are six great events to kick the festive period off across Sweden this weekend.

Six Christmas events to kick off December in Sweden
Gothenburg is about to turn on its 'Lane of Light' from the centre of the city to Liseberg. Photo: Liseberg

The Lane of Light, Gothenburg

One way to make the most of Christmas in Gothenburg this year is to follow the city’s 'Lane of Light'. In essence it’s a three kilometre stretch of Christmas light installations running from Göteborg Opera on the harbour to the Liseberg amusement park further south, with various buildings, bridges and more lit up in different ways along the route.

The path also cuts through Kungsportsplatsen, where Gothenburg’s ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ will feature daily performances of Christmas songs until December 23rd. The Lane of Light starts on December 1st and continues until January 8th. A handy map of the route can be found here.

A section of a previous incarnation of the Lane of Lights. Photo: Dino Soldin/Göeborg & Co

Icehotel 365, Jukkasjärvi

The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna is famous the world over, but while previous incarnations of the building have been allowed to melt before being completely remodeled and rebuilt each year, this month marks the launch of a new permanent section.

Icehotel 365 boasts nine deluxe suites – each with their own sauna – as well as its own ice bar and ice gallery, but apart from that most of the details are being kept under wraps, including what it will look like! As usual everything is built out of snow and ice, sculpted by artists who have been brought in from around the world to create it. The new section opens on December 1st, so why not start Christmas by finding out what all the fuss is about? Prices and tickets are available here.

Christmas concert, Uppsala

University city Uppsala will get the month going in a more subtle way with a Christmas concert this weekend to help spread some festive cheer.

The performance will take place on Saturday afternoon at Helga Trefaldighets church right next to Uppsala cathedral, and while the building isn’t quite as grand as its bigger neighbour, it still dates back to the 1300s. Vocal group Simplyfive will perform, times and the venue’s address can be found here.


A photo posted by Krystal  (@semi__swede) on Nov 11, 2016 at 7:02am PST

Winter Live, Umeå

Northern Sweden's biggest town is set to host a special winter event during the first weekend of December which will take over Rådhusesplanaden, the stretch between Rådhustorget and Järnvägstorget. That means music, dancing and other performances, reindeer, mulled wine and much more.

The events will run between noon and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Details are available here.


Streetviews #umea #umeå #visitumea #visitsweden #swedishmoments #northernsweden #november #streetview #umeälven

A photo posted by Visit Umeå (@visitumea) on Nov 14, 2016 at 5:33am PST

Live Christmas calendar, Stockholm

Every year, TV network SVT broadcasts a new Christmas calendar series with daily episodes airing between December 1st and Christmas Eve, and it’s so popular that many consider it an essential part of Swedish Christmas tradition.

The concept is taken a step further by the Mäster Olofsgården charity in Stockholm’s Old Town, which for the last 12 years has organized a live Christmas calendar in the area. At 6.15pm each day between December 1st and 24th different windows will open in Gamla Stan and a new Christmas calendar scene will be performed by Swedish actors and musicians, so if you’re in the neighbourhood at that time it’s worth keeping an eye and an ear open.

For those not willing to leave it to chance, a map of the different windows and the corresponding dates on which they will be opened on can be found here.


#gamlastan #levandejulkalender #godjul #julafton

A photo posted by Gustaf Hedberg (@stepmonto) on Dec 24, 2015 at 2:50am PST

Winter Magic, Malmö

One of Malmö’s biggest 2016 Christmas celebrations will take place at Gustav Adolfs torg under the umbrella of “Winter Magic” (Vintermagi). The square will be covered in lights and host igloos, a winter garden, and of course, a Swedish Christmas market from now until December 23rd.

READ ALSO: Ten of the merriest Christmas fairs in Sweden

The festivities are open daily between 11am and 6pm, and cost nothing to look at. The sweet treats on sale at the market are a different question.

Check out our interactive calendar below for more things to do in Sweden.



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Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.