Christmas in Helsinki - Shopping, Christmas Markets, Events and History.
As befits the land of Santa Claus, Finland knows how to celebrate Christmas.  

December maybe one of the darkest times of the year in Helsinki, but the city is brightened up by the many Christmas lights in the streets and shop window displays.  Aleksanterinkatu, the main shopping street of the city centre, is an elaborately-decorated and illuminated Joulukatu ("Christmas Street"), opened by Santa Claus himself at the end of November.  From this time, the large department stores, notable Stockmanns (the Finnish Harrods) and Sokos have exotic Christmas window displays  On Lucia Day, 13th December, the beautiful Lucia maiden descends the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral and leads a parade through the city.  By now an enormous spruce is standing in the Senate Square complete with its Christmas lights and decorations (see picture).

In Finland good food is an essential aspect of Christmas.  Many restaurants have special Yuletide fare on their menus, so you get the chance to taste real Finnish Christmas food.   Finnish Christmas delicacies include star-shaped pastries filled with thick plum jam, a great variety of au gratin dishes, gingerbread, rosolli (a salad of beetroot and other vegetables with herring) and Christmas ham.    To drink there is traditional glögi, a spicy hot mulled wine, a wide selection of Christmas beers, and hot chocolate and coffees fortified with a little something such as rum or brandy.

Home-made food delicacies, gifts and decorations are sold by vendors who come from all over Finland to the special Christmas markets.    The market season kicks off with the Women’s Christmas Fair at the Old Harbour (Vanha Satama) on 2nd December.   The largest is St. Thomas Market, held in the city centre Esplanaadi Park from 7-19 December this year.   There is also an indoor Christmas market in the Old Student Hall from the 11-22 December.   Several other local markets in the city and surroundings are known only to locals, but all our guests will receive a listing of these when they check-in, so they can experience the off-the-beaten-track markets only locals know.   We also include a listing of Christmas concerts and other events of interest, as well as where to go for alternative Christmas shopping, and where to eat and drink Finnish Christmas style, including hidden cafes and bars serving winter beers – all to help you make the most of your pre-Christmas visit to Helsinki.

The Major Christmas Markets in Helsinki

Women’s Christmas Fair, Vanha Satama 1-5 December (local handicraft market of items made by Finnish women)
St. Thomas Market, Esplanaadi Park 6-18 December (major Christmas market with wide range of hand-made items, gifts, decorations, food and drink)
Indoor Market, Old Student Hall 11-22 December
There are various Special Events in Helsinki during the Christmas Market period, including :
Music : Opera, Ballet, Classical – various high class concerts, including Christmas music; Sport – Ice Hockey – Finnish National League games