Christmas in Helsinki gets kickstarted on Saturday, November 18 with the lighting of the festive lights along Aleksanterinkatu street and a Christmas parade with Santa Claus bringing greetings from beyond the Arctic Circle. Visitors of Helsinki can get into the spirit of the season at its Christmas markets, the largest of which is the Helsinki Christmas Market in Senate Square, where you can find sustainable gifts and support local artisans. Also, you can visit the islands near Helsinki: Seurasaari and Suomenlinna for free of charge adventures for the whole family.
Christmas in Helsinki is characterised by the scent of mulled wine, spiced coffees, homemade gingerbread cookies and fir branch wreaths. The dark time of the year and wintery temperatures create a soothing atmosphere that is lit up by festive lights and warmed up by savoury Christmas foods and drinks, lots of candles and, of course, sauna. Christmas in Helsinki is also characterised by charming Christmas markets, concerts and events, and getting together with friends and family. The Christmas season lets you unwind while enjoying new and old traditions.
Step into a fairytale Christmas atmosphere
The Christmas season in Helsinki gets underway on Saturday 18 November with the lighting of the festive lights along Aleksanterinkatu street and a Christmas parade with Santa Claus bringing greetings from beyond the Arctic Circle. The festive lights will be turned on by the Mayor of Helsinki, who invites everyone to take part in the celebrations and enjoy the parade that passes through the city.
The parade starts at 4:00 PM from Senate Square and passes through Kluuvi Shopping Center (Aleksanterinkatu 9). From Kluuvi, you can head to Aleksanterinkatu to witness the parade that will light up the traditional lights of Aleksanterinkatu. On Saturday, November 18 from 13:00 to 17:00 at Kluuvi, there will be activities for the whole family such as a photo booth, christmas games, glitter tattoos, balloons, takeaway glögi, offers, and, of course, a joyful Christmas spirit! The event is co-organised this year with students from Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
A magical atmosphere can also be experienced at the new Moomin Shop on the Esplanade, which opens on Friday 17 November, bringing the world of Midsummer Madness to life in captivating detail. The interior of the shop is a tribute to the classic Moomin book by Helsinki-based author and artist Tove Jansson, which tells a story about finding yourself and your dreams through theatre. The new experiential shop is situated suitably right in the city center in connection with the Swedish Theatre at the end of Esplanade Park, where Tove Jansson’s first-ever theatre production of her book Comet in Moominland premiered in 1949 – the same year as the first Christmas lights in Helsinki!
Christmas markets offer sustainable and unique gifts
The Helsinki Christmas Market, known locally as 'Tuomaan Markkinat' or the 'St. Thomas Market', is the largest and most beautiful open-air Christmas market in Helsinki. At the heart of the Helsinki Christmas Market in Senate Square is an old-fashioned wooden carousel that is an established tradition for many local families. Kids can ride the carousel free of charge. Visitors to the market can enjoy mulled wine and local Christmas treats.
The Helsinki Christmas Market, which is open from 1-22 December 2023, highlights sustainable development, and the environmental impacts of this popular urban event are assessed in accordance with the EcoCompass certification. The vendors and restaurants at the market have been selected with an emphasis on responsible production and operations. The market features lots of primary producers and small artisans whose product selection offers a sustainable alternative to mass-produced gifts and decorations.
Fans of Finnish design should head to Little Finlandia by the iconic Finlandia Hall, where Ornamo’s Design Christmas X Designkaverit event will bring together Finnish design makers and brands on the weekend of 9-10 December 2023. More Christmas markets and other events can be found on the MyHelsinki event calendar.
Experience a unique Christmas atmosphere by the sea on the islands of Suomenlinna and Seurasaari
Helsinki has over 300 islands. The surrounding sea and nature are important to Helsinkians. A couple of unique island destinations where you can enjoy nature and get into the Christmas spirit are the islands of Seurasaari and Suomenlinna. The Christmas Path at Seurasaari is a free-of-charge attraction for families that offers visitors glimpses of Finnish Christmas traditions. The event takes place this year on Sunday, December 10.
If you are in Helsinki, the Christmas season is indeed the perfect time to hop on the ferry to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where you can experience the winter atmosphere in the archipelago and even learn more about Suomenlinna’s past and present along the Lighthouse Keeper’s Route. This fun and educational route is free of charge and it was co-created by he Governing Body of Suomenlinna and the Ehrensvärd Society.
The authentic Christmas atmosphere can also be experienced at the Suomenlinna Toy Museum with all its Christmas elves and decorations. The museum and its cozy café will be open on weekends from 25 November to 17 December and daily from 26 December 2023 to 7 January 2024.