Monday, December 23, 2013

With Copenhagen’s narrow, colorful houses and fairytale-like palaces, I couldn’t have imagined a more picturesque place to visit for Christmas.

Copenhagen is often considered to have one of the top 10 Christmas markets in Europe, which run from mid-November until the end of December each year. With that in mind, we decided to meet up with a fellow expat friend from Germany and spend a weekend exploring Denmark’s capital earlier this month.
A beautiful Christmas display outside a hotel in Copenhagen.
However, when we arrived at the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, we were shocked by the 95 DKK (nearly $20 USD) admission fee just to enter its Christmas Market. We quickly were realizing how expensive this Danish city was and decided to skip the Tivoli Christmas markets, which attracts more than 1 million visitors a year. Looks like the city is making a killer profit from Tivoli, but not from us.
We still had three more Christmas markets on our list.

Instead, we wandered over to the Christmas Market on Højbro Plads in the center of Copenhagen by the Stork Fountain, a gift given to the Danish Royal Family in 1894. This market was small, but included a Christmas train and plenty of stalls selling mugs of steaming gløgg (mulled wine with spices, raisins and almonds), mulled hot cider and grilled bratwursts. We warmed ourselves up with the hot gløgg as the weather was cold, damp and gray.
The Christmas Market on Højbro Plads had the best festive atmosphere in Copenhagen.
Steaming mugs of Danish gløgg.
Hubby and I drinking gløgg  to stay warm in Copenhagen. 
Of course, you must have a grilled brat while you're at a Christmas market!
Some tempting sweets at the Christmas markets in Copenhagen.
I hoped to find some cute, handmade, traditional Christmas ornaments, but unfortunately, only two stalls were selling these items. Honestly, I couldn’t tell whether they were really homemade or made in China, so I passed.

At a coffeeshop, we asked the barista which Christmas market was her favorite. She pointed us in the direction of the 18th annual Christiania Christmas Market, located in Christianshavn, which is known as the city’s bohemian district. The Freetown of Christiania definitely has a more Rastafari atmosphere – if you know what I mean. I’m a fairly liberal person, but I was shocked to see so much cannabis being sold out in the public. This was a completely separate section from the Christmas market, but only 200 meters or so away too.
Christmas in Christiania.
Perhaps I would have found some unique handicraft items in Christiania, but we didn’t want to wait outside in the cold in a long line that didn’t appear to be moving. Instead, we popped into a local bar for more warming glasses of Danish gløgg.

Finally, we strolled over to the historic Nyhavn Christmas Market located along the banks of the famous Nyhavn Canal. This setting, with moored boats and colorful, 17th-and 18th-century townhouses as well as two former residences of well-known Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, seemed ideal for a Christmas market.
Unfortunately, Nyhavn’s market, the smallest of the four we’d seen, didn’t have much to offer besides woolen hats and scarves and more gløgg, which we happily ordered again. And the weather had turned from just being cold and gray to a miserable drizzle.
Every glass of gløgg we had was always slightly different.
An interesting concept - waffle on a stick!
Though we had a great time hanging out with our friend, Copenhagen itself did not meet my expectations and neither did the Christmas markets. The highlight was having two amazing, multi-course (also expensive) dinners over the weekend, which I’ll save for another post.

Perhaps next Christmas, we’ll just meet up with our friend in Germany instead!

Which Christmas market in Europe is your favorite?

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Alan said...

. . best to stick with enjoying the cul-like 'Nordic Noir' crime and political thrillers on DVD then. Have a good christmas Joy.

BacktoBodrum said...

Copenhagen may not be great for Christmas markets but it's a wonderful place for home design and fabrics. One day I will drive their so I can bring it all home.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

bummer about the markets but the city is beautiful. have a wonderful christmas joy!!!

Joy said...

@Alan, Ha - I never knew Nordic Noir was a real genre! Thanks for the insight! And have a wonderful Christmas as well! :-)

@Annie, the little bit of home design decor that we did see was uber expensive! One modern-looking chair was over $3000 USD! I don't know how people could afford to have all that stuff.

@Joyce, Copenhagen itself was a pretty city! Too bad we had such gray, drizzly weather though. Hope you and your family have a fantastic Christmas as well!

Italian Notes said...

As a native Dane from Copenhagen, I'm sorry to read about you disappointment. But it is understandable. If you want a grand German style Christmas market here, you have to pay the steep entrance fee to Tivoli or mix with the alternative crowd in Christiania.