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NEW YEAR

The best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve across Sweden in 2018

If you're in Sweden for New Year's Eve, there are plenty of places to celebrate in style, from firework displays to laser and light shows and activities for all the family. Here's our pick of the best events taking place across the country.

The best places to celebrate New Year's Eve across Sweden in 2018
Fireworks over Skeppsbron in central Stockholm, one of the country's most popular displays. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

Stockholm

The firework display in Sweden’s capital takes place in the water, in the area between the Royal Palace in Gamla Stan, the National Museum, and Skeppholmsbron.

The best views of the display are from Gamla Stan, along Skeppsbron, or in Blasieholmen, on Södra Blasieholmskajen. But there are many other good spots from which to watch the fireworks, such as along Strandvägen in Östermalm and Skeppsholmen. On Södermalm, try the cliffs around Slussen, Monteliusvägen, or for views of Kungsholmen and the City Hall, head west on Hornsgatan to Skinnarsviksberget, the highest natural point in inner Stockholm.

Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

There are road closures and traffic restrictions in the area around the display, affecting parts of Gamla Stan and Blasieholmen. There is also a firework ban in effect within the traffic-free zone, which means that pedestrians are welcome to watch the fireworks from the area, but fireworks, firecrackers and paper lanterns are not allowed within the perimeter. Checks will be carried out at the entrances.

For a different experience in the capital, Skansen is open late on New Year’s Eve and offers a range of activities and entertainment. It also offers great views of the city (and all the various firework displays) from its hills. Entrance is 165 kronor for adults during the day (10am-4pm), and 160 kronor after 8pm.

Gothenburg

Local newspaper Göteborgs-Posten has been organizing a fireworks show every New Year’s Eve since 1982, and it is considered the biggest in Sweden. At 5pm, around 500 kg of fireworks are set off from Kvillepiren, in Frihamnen.

With clear weather, they are visible from as far as Masthuggskyrkan, but for a guaranteed view, head to the waterfront – places like the Opera House or the SVT building on Pumpgatan are good locations – or go uphill to Skansen Kronan or even the top of the Nordstan carpark.

READ ALSO: How to celebrate New Year's Eve like a Swede: six essential traditions

Photo: Stefan Isaksson/imagebank.sweden.se

Malmö

The main celebration in the southern city takes place in the square outside Malmö Opera, starting at 11:40pm. Get there much earlier for a good spot though. There will be music and the traditional countdown before midnight, when confetti rains down and the fireworks light up the sky.

If you have children, there is a dedicated party for the little ones at Stortorget, from 1pm to 5pm. It includes a theatre performance and a child-friendly fireworks display. This year, the theme for the Children’s New Year is Space.

Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Lund

Head to Lundagård for the midnight fireworks show by Lundapyrot, Lund’s pyrotechnic student organization. The best place to watch the fireworks, according to them, is in front of AF-borgen, house of The Academic Society in Lundagård, or the top of Helsingkronatornet. But the display should be visible from most of the university town.

Luleå

The celebration in Södra Hamnplan starts at 11:30pm, with food, drinks, and choir singing. After the countdown, fireworks go off at midnight from the water.

This year’s fireworks show will be a quiet display – with no bangs – and at a low altitude to reduce noise disturbance. 

Traffic restrictions also apply. For more information, see Luleå’s event page. There is free parking at Karpen on Sandviksgatan from 6pm on New Year’s Eve to 10pm on New Year’s Day.

Karlstad

Join the celebration and watch the fireworks from Sandgrundsudden at midnight, where you can watch the display on the banks of Sweden’s longest river, the Klarälven. 

Västerås

Last year, Västerås made headlines with an all-new New Year’s Eve celebration. The highlight was a 3-D film with reference to HBO’s series Game of Thrones and the city’s fictional namesake, Westeros.

This year, the event will again be at Fiskatorget, starting at 11:30pm. The main attraction will be a laser and fire show, with the countdown on the City Hall tower. There will be some fireworks at the end of the laser and fire presentation, but the city is aiming to reduce the use of fireworks.

Alternative shows

Some Swedish cities have decided not to put on fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve for animal welfare and environmental reasons, offering laser and light shows instead. Here are some family- and pet-friendly alternative celebrations throughout Sweden.

Boden

Boden is celebrating 100 years since it received city status on January 1st, 1919, making this year’s celebration even more special. The party starts at 3pm at Kvarnängen, offering activities for the whole family, including singing, dancing, and even a torch procession.

Linköping

Head to Borggården at 5pm for the city’s official party, packed with music and dance acts. The light show begins at 6pm, and will be projected on the façade of Linköping Castle.

The light show will continue to be displayed daily until January 3rd, from 5pm to 9pm.

Norrköping

Norrköping’s New Year Walk attracts over 40,000 people to the city each year. Starting at 4pm by the Moa Martinson statue on Grytstorget and ending at around 6:30pm at Tyska Torget, the walk takes you past music, art, entertainment, and food and drinks.

Although no fireworks show will take place, New Year’s Eve happens during the city’s Light Festival. In a partnership with Amsterdam Light Festival, it displays light and art installations from international artists around Norrköping. Daily, from November 30th to January 6th, 4pm-12am.

READ ALSO: Year in review: The biggest stories from Sweden in 2018

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CHRISTMAS

A complete guide to getting into the Christmas spirit in Gothenburg

As the advent season is well under way, Sweden's second city has plenty on offer to help you get that festive feeling. The Local guides you through the best places to go for gift-buying, decoration-admiring, and julbord-eating.

A complete guide to getting into the Christmas spirit in Gothenburg
The Liseberg theme park is the high point of the festive season for many. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/SCANPIX/TT

Markets

The Liseberg theme park is the highlight of Gothenburg's Christmas festivities for many. Open from December 4th-8th, 10th-23rd and 26th-30th, this is a chance to pick up gifts or foods from the market stalls and enjoy the festive decorations. If you can time your visit for 7pm on weekdays, 4.30pm or 7pm on Saturdays or 5pm on Sundays, you'll be in time for a version of A Christmas Carol on ice skates.

But it's by no means the only market. The city's oldest can be found in Kronhuset every day except Mondays until December 21st, so that you can check out crafts and of course festive food and drink in one of the city's most important historic buildings.

Head to the Academy of Design and Crafts (HDK) between December 6th and 8th to pick up some artsy gifts made by the students there.

And a modern Christmas market can be found in the Nordstan shopping centre until December 30th, with the chance to meet Santa on December 13th-15th, while Kville Saluhall hosts a festive foodie market for one day only on the 14th. 

If it's an escape from the city you want, the annual market on the archipelago island of Hönö has been extended this year, taking place each Saturday until Christmas. There will be music, refreshments, games and activities for children, and special events such as a Christmas beer tasting on December 7th and late night fireworks on the 21st. And over in Kungälv, Bohus fortress hosts a Christmas market on December 14th.

The market in the Haga district. Photo: Göran Assner/imagebank.sweden.se

Shopping and browsing

As well as the markets, one of the top shopping spots to visit is department store NK which boasts some of the most beautiful and certainly the most elaborate Christmas window displays in the city. The Saluhallen Food Market is a great spot to pick up edible gifts.

In the trendy Magasinsgatan neighbourhood you'll find some of the best known Swedish brands and can check out the gingerbread house baked at favourite fika spot Da Matteo. This is one of the most prettily decorated parts of town and on Wednesdays you can also enjoy mulled wine and Christmassy music.

And if you'd like to give gifts to people who are struggling this Christmas, local charity Räddningsmissionen is collecting them in the lobby of Gothia Towers until December 15th. Gift cards are particularly appreciated. Alternatively, Stadsmissionen's Christmas Tram will make its way through the city collecting gifts and giving out mulled wine and gingerbread to those who donate on December 7th. You are also welcome to make donations to their shop on Drottninggatan any weekday until December 20th.

Photo: Göran Assner/imagebank.sweden.se

Lucia

On December 13th, Swedes inject some light into the winter darkness with Luciadagen or Lucia Day, a festival that revolves around lights and music. Many of the best known church performances have already sold out, but there's still a chance to hear the classic festive tunes.

Early risers can head to Drottningtorget to see the performances on the Hotel Eggers balcony (for free) at 6.45am and 7.45am.

Otherwise, catch the magic in the food market Stora Saluhallen at 1pm, or the Nordstan shopping centre at 3pm and 3.30pm.

From 3pm, you can buy any remaining tickets for the performance at Gothenburg Cathedral which starts at 7pm.

Events

Bio Roy will be showing some festive films, including ET, sing-a-long showings of A Nightmare Before Christmas, and a live broadcast of the Nutcracker ballet.

Prefer to see ballet live? See the Nutcracker performed by St Petersburg Festival Ballet at the Symphony Orchestra on December 14th.

Or for an interactive experience, Kungsportshuset is hosting a Christmas Party which combines the classic julbord with musical and other performances.

Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB scanpix/SCANPIX

Concerts

The festive season is a musical time of year in Sweden.

Book tickets for a musical version of A Christmas Carol at Göteborgs Operan. The singing will be in Swedish, but even non-Swedish speakers will likely recognize the story even if the blend of classical music, pop, rap and opera is new.

City choirs create the 'Singing Christmas Tree', now an annual tradition in Gothenburg that you can watch in Kungsportsplatsen every day from 6pm until December 21st. Perfect for taking a breather during a dash to the shops.

Vasakyrkan's Frid på Jorden (Peace on Earth concert) takes place on December 20th.

Head to the city's cathedral on December 20th or 21st for a Christmas concert featuring a wind orchestra and one of Sweden's top sopranos. And at Stora Teatern, you can choose between an evening of traditional Christmas songs on December 17th, or the Jazzy Christmas event on December 23rd, to get even the most Scrooge-like people in the festive mood.


Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Eat and drink

Swedish Christmas wouldn't be Swedish Christmas without a gigantic festive buffet, and there are plenty of julbord to choose from in Gothenburg.

A lunchtime julbord with one of the best views in town is just 395 kronor on weekdays at Gothia Towers, rising to 695 kronor per person in the evenings and an extra 100 kronor on Friday or Saturday,

Villa Belparc offers a huge spread in the midst of the Slottsskogen park, but make sure to book in advance. 

If you want to head out of the busy centre, Långedrag Värdshus offers a seafood-inspired selection, or you can book a julbord cruise through the archipelago. If you're making a day of it, Tullhuset on Hönö has a highly praised seafood julbord available for large and small groups.

Feeling a bit sick of meatballs and prinskorv? Julbord with a difference is on offer at Lilla Spinneriet, with an Italian flavour (and only a few dates available at the time of publication), while Boule Bar has a French-inspired menu and Blackbird's buffet is fully vegan.

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