There's no better way to get into the festive spirit than a pre-Christmas escape to a festive winter town. Explore Helsinki on the Radisson Blu blog and plan your weekend away today! As Finland is gripped by winter, the long dark days and snowy streets make the perfect backdrop for festive fun. So wrap up in your scarf and furry hat and set your winter boots on the streets of Helsinki to experience Christmas, Scandinavian style!
The Helsinki Christmas Market opens the holiday season
Helsinki is known for its Christmas markets during the festive season, and the most famous of these is held in Senate Square. The Helsinki Christmas Market, or St. Thomas Christmas Market boasts up to 120 stalls housed in wooden huts behind festive facades. Take the opportunity to browse and pick out unique Finnish arts and crafts. The Christmas Market has presents for everyone: from the traditional woolly socks and candles to the more modern gifts, such as textiles and jewelry. The stalls also tempt you with special local meats, fish, mustard and honey that are sure to stand out at your Christmas dinner table. When you need a break from your Christmas shopping, indulge in some spicy glögi - the season isn't the same without some warming mulled wine! Steaming mugs of hot chocolate are equally comforting, while gingerbread and star-shaped pastries filled with plum jam are enough to tempt even the most ardent shopper to rest and indulge. The Christmas Market is open daily December 1 – 22, 2018 from 11 a.m until 8 p.m Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m until 7 p.m Saturday and Sunday.
Psst! Heading to Helsinki for winter? Check our Top tips for winter in Helsinki!
Where to get your shopping done early
If you're Christmas shopping for stylish friends, head to the Ornamo Design Christmas Market, held the first weekend of December. Here you'll find a wide range of contemporary crafts from the Finnish Association of Designers, including interior decor like handmade ceramics and fashion finds like one-of-a-kind jewelry to impress even the most label-conscious pals. Korjaamo Culture Factory also holds regular weekend markets showcasing new art and innovative designs. Or head back to the boutiques of Aleksanterinkatu to browse sophisticated window displays below the festive lights - less than a twenty-minute walk from our Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Helsinki, you should feel free to shop till you drop!
Hidden holiday gems
To really make the most of your trip to Helsinki, explore what makes this city unique. Suomenlinna is a fortress town on an island off the coast, and visiting makes the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the holiday hordes. The iconic fortress hosts several Christmas events.
How to celebrate like a Finn
In Finland, 25 December is a quiet family affair. Finns traditionally celebrate more merrily during the weeks leading up to Christmas, a festival season known as Pikkujoulu. During this "Little Christmas," you'll find Helsinki's bars and restaurants buzzing with a party atmosphere. As the city gears up for Joulu (as the holiday is known in Finnish), the main thoroughfare of Aleksanterinkatu is lit by elaborate light displays, transforming into Helsinki's official Christmas street.
On 24 November, the lights will be ceremonially illuminated in Senate Square by the city's Mayor and Santa Claus himself - St. Nick is a resident of Lapland, after all - before an official parade proceeds down "Christmas Street." Helsinki residents began lighting up the city during the post-war years to signify the hopefulness of the new era, and the tradition continues to this day.