Proclaiming to be the world’s number one Christmas city, Helsinki is more than ready for another festive holiday season.
Helsinki has been highlighted as a top destination this Christmas by The Guardian who has listed Helsinki has one of Europe’s best Christmas getaway destinations. Christmas in Helsinki is a mix of the new and old-world traditions. A warm Christmas atmosphere is guaranteed all the way from late November to the Epiphany at the start of the New Year. The holiday season is rounded off by the popular Lux Helsinki light festival, which presents brilliant light art throughout the city centre from 5 to 9 January 2019.
Helsinki Central Library Oodi
The most anticipated architectural grand opening of the year takes place around the Finnish Independence Day at the start of December, when the internationally acclaimed Helsinki Central Library Oodi opens to the public. The grand opening programme includes dance, music and theatre performances over two days on 5 and 6 December.
Urban Christmas retreat combines saunas, traditions, and pristine nature
Christmas in Helsinki means saunas, the proximity to the sea and nature, small-scale appeal, delicious food, design, and a mix of traditions.
When in Finland, Take a Sauna
The sauna is an essential part of the Finnish Christmas, and Helsinki offers numerous Christmas saunas to choose. The city’s public saunas, from the immensely popular design sauna Löyly to the brand-new Uusi Sauna, remain hot throughout the Christmas holidays for locals and visitors alike to enjoy. In the city center, you can also visit a pop-up sauna that lets you enjoy a beautiful view to Helsinki Cathedral or Allas Sea Pool, where you take in the city’s skyline while swimming in the heated open-air pool right in the main harbor.
Around the end of November and beginning of December, Helsinki is taken over by Christmas markets selling lots of seasonal treats alongside Finnish design and handicrafts. The legendary Helsinki Christmas Market opens in the historic Senate Square on Saturday 1 December and is open daily all the way until Saturday 22 December. In addition to great gift ideas, the Helsinki Christmas Market also offers ten varieties of glögi (mulled wine), plus Christmas karaoke and seasonal delicacies. Helsinki also has dozens of smaller Christmas markets and fairs.
Helsinki is surrounded by beautiful nature, and getting from the city center to the islands in the archipelago the forests to enjoy the fresh air could not be simpler. Helsinki’s natural attractions are especially popular during the Christmas season when families can enjoy the many Christmas paths throughout the city. Hundreds of candles light up the Christmas path along the Uutela Nature Trail in Vuosaari, East Helsinki, while the Christmas path on the recreational island of Seurasaari is full of fun surprises, elves, and forest animals.
In addition to all the traditional classical music concerts, church concerts, and choir performances, Helsinki also offers seasonal entertainment for electronic music fans and clubbers.
Bring in the New Year
Helsinki greets in 2019 with its official New Year’s Eve celebrations in Senate Square on 31 December. New year’s Festivities include music, dance and fire performances, as well as a spectacular firework display.
Your online guide to Christmas in Helsinki
MyHelsinki offers insight into the city’s Christmas traditions, as well as local recommendations for enjoying Helsinki has to offer in Holiday Cheers.
Photographer: Jussi Hellsten