Discovering Sweden: God Jul
I’d have to say, Göteborg has been living up to its reputation for the best place in Sweden to celebrate Christmas. And with the downpour of snow we’ve had lately, it’s been a positively beautiful experience. If you haven’t had the chance to move around in the city yet, I’d encourage you to get out now and take advantage of what is turning out to be a picturesque holiday celebration.
A couple weeks ago, I went with three friends to Tjoloholm Castle in Halland for their massive three-day Christmas Market. There, even before December had dawned upon us, vendors from all around Sweden were selling julost, julkorv, julchoklad---jul-everything. We roamed and feasted on fantastic roasted almonds, handmade jams, traditional candies, and smoked hams in the estate barns; sat in the pews of a small church and listened to local Christmas jazz; had a snowball fight on the terrace of this old, Swedish country house; and sipped glögg near candle-lit lanterns as the field got dark.
All in all, it was a beautiful Saturday. But I think, most importantly, it kicked off the Christmas season for us in a very sweet and very traditionally Swedish way. And although the market is finished (though you can still go to Tjoloholm Castle for their Lucia concerts and masses), there are plenty of opportunities in and around Göteborg where you, too, can have a similar experience and get your fill of holiday spirit (to whatever budget, mind you) while the snow is still here.
Here is a small sampling of some of the Christmas festivities that I’ve heard and/or been to this year…
- The Haga Christmas Market (free)---hosted both Saturdays and Sundays, the streets of your friendly little neighborhood of Haga are transformed into a large but not-entirely-too-overwhelming collection of holiday-themed vendors and booths. After getting some coffee in your favorite shop, you can go out and support local artisans by buying some awesome traditional Swedish crafts and presents here to send home. Yeah, support local art!
- Christmas at Liseberg ($)---I am sure you’ve seen the ads for this on all the trams and all the buses, but in case you didn’t know, Liseberg has a serious reputation for Christmas celebrations. I mean, you can see their massive tree of lights from anywhere in the city. As a foreigner/still-kinda-tourist, I’m planning to go this weekend and get the full effect; as I understand it from my Swedish friends, it’s something you just can’t miss if you live here. And apparently, they’re crowning Lucia on this upcoming Sunday (December 12), so you know things are going to go down…
- Downtown Göteborg Lights (free)---for you budget freaks, this is an easy one. I mean, have you seen the lights? They’re gorgeous. Take a camera, some tea in a thermos, and maybe 20 crowns for small Christmas-themed snack, and you’re good to go. Easy Christmas e-cards to send home.
- Christmas Market at Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk (free)---now this I hear is cool. The students at Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk are having a Christmas sale this weekend (December 10-12) with creative products in design, jewelry, textile, and ceramic art. So if you don’t want to go traditional, I’d go here for some innovative gifts that are designed by local students. Yeah, support local art!
- Lucia at Humanisten (free)---if you’ve missed the flyers posted around the GU libraries, there will be a free distribution of coffee, music, and Christmas cheer on Monday (December 13) at 8:15 in Humanisten. Expect to see Lucia if you happen to get up that early; I hear the choir is real special.
If nothing here seems to tickle your holiday fancy, I refer you to a great website here that lists many other events, from ice skating to outdoor movies to boat rides. Have at it!