Christmas in Gamla Stan

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In Stockholm, Sweden

The Great Square Christmas Market (Stortorgets Julmarknad) has its origins in the old medieval markets of Stockholm.  It’s been in this same spot every year since 1837 (with a brief window from 1907-1914, when it didn’t run at all).  Therefore since 1915, it has been a constant presence in Gamla Stan, and you couldn’t get a more perfectly picturesque spot.

There are 41 stalls selling the usual drinks and foods but also a range of products from sellers who are selected by the Stockholm Guild Curator.  It’s his job to makes sure that Swedish arts and crafts are marketed here – going back to the rule set by Gustav Vasa back in the 1520s.  This has been the ethos of the fair since the 1960s, a deliberate move to improve the prestige of the market, which has worked wonders.  The market actually makes a profit every year, money which is used to give scholarships and grants to Stockholm groups.  So every piece of Sami handicraft you buy, every cheese, every sheepskin goes towards helping the city.

From one of the glögg sellers we got a fruity, quite alcoholic drink with a traditional little ginger biscuit.  Notice how the cup is giving us an evil, single-toothed grin.  It was a useful touch having the biscuit because it did help soak up some of the alcohol.  Like the Danish version of the same drink, it has almonds and raisins in it, which are really tasty to eat at the end.  One thing is lacking which I think is a shame as a Christmas-market-goer: it would be nice if they had themed mugs for those of us who are sad and like collecting them.

So In Summary

While it was very nice walking around the market, and there were some charming items on sale, I would say it’s not the sort of Christmas market that you deliberately travel to Stockholm to see.  That is not a criticism at all – it’s a cosy market with some lovely products for sale.  It’s a charming setting and just standing and people-watching as you sip your glögg makes a lovely way to while away the time.

Further Information

The market has its own website which is available in many languages, including Google Translate English

The market is open from the beginning of December to Christmas Eve, from 11am-6pm, so it does close early.  There are lots of Christmas fairs and events around the city, and many of the main streets are bedecked in cute lights and decorations so that everywhere feels very festive.  Because it starts getting dark around 3pm, the lights really do take on a significance and beauty in what could otherwise be a scary and grim environment.

For more information about what goes on in Stockholm for Christmas, visit

I visited the market in December 2016 during my Christmas trip to Stockholm.  For my entry about the magical Christmas in Skansen, you can click here!

How to Get There

Stockholm is a very walkable city, but it is very up-and-downy.  To get to the Stortorgets market, you have to walk uphill, something people with walking difficulties should definitely consider before setting out.  For transport links, you can consult the handy SL website



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