Lights at Herttoniemenranta. Photo: Mika Lappalainen

Your local guide to Christmas

Helsinki is packed in December with Christmas markets and school bazaars, where you can find great gift ideas – especially Finnish design and handicrafts. The biggest event is the Helsinki Christmas Market in Senate Square, where you can buy handicrafts, drink mulled wine and ride on the carousels. In the centre of the square is the city’s official Christmas tree in all its glory. 

The main Christmas street in Helsinki is Aleksanterinkatu, where the Christmas lights were turned on at the end of November. There is also a parade down the street where the guest of honour is none other than Santa Claus. The next parade takes place on Lucia Day, 13 December, with a procession for the newly crowned Lucia.

Company Christmas parties are held throughout the month, especially at the beginning of December. The recreational island of Seurasaari has a fun and free-of-charge Christmas Path for families with children, and carol concerts are held at Helsinki’s churches from the end of November all the way through Christmas.

Christmas Eve in Finland is a quiet celebration that is usually spent among family. The traditions include lighting candles at cemeteries and attending a church service before settling down for a huge feast and opening the presents. If you are visiting Helsinki, many restaurants these days remain open on Christmas Eve. The streets of the city come back to life on Boxing Day, when many restaurants host traditional dances and the cinemas are packed.

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