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A complete guide to getting into the Christmas spirit in Gothenburg

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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
15:00 CET+01:00
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.

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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