Tivoli Gardens - the epicenter of all things Christmas in Copenhagen.

A Delightful Christmas in Copenhagen

Winter in Copenhagen might be dark and frosty. But during the Christmas season, the Danish capital is transformed into a wonderland. Dazzling decorations and a light extravaganza start lighting up the city. And hygge makes a comeback through steaming hot gløgg and delectable æbleskiver.

Copenhagen is indeed serious when it comes to Christmas. As soon as I left the train station, my lungs were filled with the smell of cinnamon, gingerbread, and sugar-roasted almonds. Just around the corner, a lady was pouring gløgg (Danish mull wine) into the cups while chatting with the customers. The festive atmosphere got more intense as I strolled downtown, passing by gorgeously decorated shops that sell Christmas items and sweets.

After a while, I found myself standing at the entrance to Tivoli – an amusement park and the epicenter of all things Christmas in Copenhagen. With a myriad of lights framing an ornate gate, this place might be the closest thing to a true winter wonderland. The park has been operated since 1843, making it one of the oldest pleasure gardens in the world.

Sweet treat in Copenhagen

1. Tivoli Gardens

Since its beginning, Tivoli Gardens, simply known as Tivoli, has been famous for its delightful mix of rides, performances, and cultural shows. They are beautifully crafted and feature various themes, from the imaginary Orient to cultures that are closer to home. That’s why the park is hugely popular with kids and grownups alike. In fact, Tivoli is the most visited amusement park in Scandinavia, attracting millions of people annually.

During the festive season, Tivoli is transformed into some sort of fairyland. The whole park is adorned with wooden houses, spruces, and millions of twinkling lights. Even without the snow, I was still mesmerized. Together with the music, light shows, and steaming pots of mulled wine or hot chocolate, the park set the scene for an idyllic way of experiencing Danish hygge – basic, uncomplicated, and coziness.

The gate to Tivoli
The Springyard. This building resembles the Taj, doesn’t it?
The Pantomime Theatre

2. Nyhavn

Yuletide spirit was, however, not limited to the Tivoli. It spread throughout the Nordic capital and was visible wherever I went. Each site was more stunning than the last, putting me in a qualm of choice. After back and forth consideration, I ended up at the Christmas market in Nyhavn. Though not exactly the most famous one, this place had a picturesque setting; right at the water edge of the old harbor.

Originally, Nyhavn was Copenhagen’s main port where ships from all over the world would dock. It used to jampack with pubs, alehouses, sailors, and ladies of the night. These days, the waterfront and entertainment district attracts visitors with numerous classy cafes and restaurants. They are housed in charming brightly colored houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Here, I had the chance to try Æbleskiver – light, round pancake puffs served together with raspberry jams and powdered sugar. Together with Gløgg, they are two Danish specialties that symbolize the Christmas season.

Nyhavn – the picturesque old harbor
Colorful houses in Nyhavn
Æbleskiver – a Christmas must-have in Denmark

3. The Little Mermaid

From the Nyhavn, there is a short walk along the promenade to the iconic Little Mermaid. Created by Edvard Eriksen in 1913, this human-sized bronze statue depicts a mermaid sitting on a rock by the waterside. She is on the verge of being human, with her legs gradually replacing the fishtail. The statue is based on the fairy tale of the same name written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837.

The way there is no less interesting. I stopped by Amalienborg to glimpse the home of the Danish royalty, before reaching Kastellet – one of the best-preserved star fortresses in Europe. Next to this spectacular fortress is the Nyboder neighborhood which includes long rows of distinctive yellow houses, once used as naval accommodation. In recent years, it has become popular thanks to the Oscar-awarded movie: The Danish Girl.

The Little Mermaid – an icon of the Nordic capital
Along the promenade

52 thoughts on “A Delightful Christmas in Copenhagen”

  1. What a wonderful place to spend the holiday season. Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures!

  2. Absolutely brilliant photography like always. 🙂 Omg, Tivoli gardens look straight out of fairy tale indeed :O What did you do there? Did you go on the rides? I love the concept of Danish hygge as that is so me! The atmosphere in Europe during Christmas time is just magical, isn’t it. 🙂 I’ll probably go to Prague after New Year’s but I will still catch the Christmas market for a day. But otherwise just here in Poland.

    1. Thanks a lot for your compliment 🙂 I tried almost everything, except the roller coaster. What I loved most is the light and water show at the lake. If I came back, I would definitely add the Nut Cracker Show in the Tivoli Theater into my list 🙂 I have heard that Prague’s Christmas Market is great too. I have seen some photos but have never been there in winter.
      How is the festive atmosphere in Polen? Any tradition, special foods or drinks 😉

  3. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    Were you in Copenhagen last Christmas? I am absolutely loving your photos and reliving all those memories! I would love to return for Christmas, as the atmosphere seems to be completely different from summer. The days are short though, so it would feel like hibernating, no?

    1. Yes, I was there last Christmas. Unfortunately, there was no snow 🙁 Hibernating during Christmas season? Hardly 🙂 Because the Glogg (Danish mulled wine) will warm you up. After 2-3 glasses, I doubt that you can even feel cold at all. Coffee shop in Copenhagen is also a good option to enjoy the Danish “hygge”, if you don’t like to stay outside. They open quite late and some even serve the hot Æbleskiver too 🙂
      For January and February, it will be a little bit boring, but it is exam season. So it is a good thing for me because I can concentrate on my study haha

      1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
        Jolene says:

        It would be a dream to have the chance to spend Xmas in Copenhagen. Perhaps one day…🙂

  4. simpledimple – Growing up, I kept a daily journal, where I scribble down random thoughts and crazy ideas that play on my mind. I write snippets of my personal life, jokes or whatever tickles my fancy. Now, I want to write to be read. My blog will consist of my daily situations, and the different cultural experiences I have garnered so far. Hopefully, I should be able to motivate, and inspire someone out there. Do share your perspectives with me when you stop by my blog. I look forward to interacting with you. Thank you. :)
    simpledimple says:

    Hi Len, Wow! Stunning photos of the beautiful city of Copenhagen. Now I know where you got the hint about the Danish Christmas tradition. 🙂 So you spent last Christmas in Denmark, I guess you had an awesome experience. Denmark has such an interesting Christmas tradition that fascinates me… Well, I had to stop by to say thank you for the follow and also appreciate your visit and comment on my blog. I love the ambience of your blog, it looks very interesting and I will return to read some more posts. Enjoy the season! Cheers! 🙂

    1. Thank you and very welcome, Stella 🙂 Your compliments made my day. What you said was absolutely right, Denmark’s Christmas is so magical, so traditional. I love the atmosphere and the decoration, as well as the Aebleskiver haha. Unfortunately, they don’t sell it here 😉 For Glogg, 1-2 cup is ok, but I don’t like the spicy taste that much. Happy holiday! Cheers! 🙂

  5. Agness | the Adventure Traveler – Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
    agnesstramp says:

    Tivoli Gardens look absolutely stunning during the Christmas. I really wish I could walk there on Christmas Eve! 🙂 Merry Christmas xx

    1. Many thanks! Yes, I had a great time there. But it would be more Christmassy if there were some snow. The snowstorm came a little bit late 🙂

  6. The Pitt Stops – Connecticut, USA – A travel couple adventuring around the world! Need travel ideas? Watch our videos & read our blog for world travel tips on a budget. There's so much to discover...
    ThePittStops says:

    I was there last year and loved it! The people were so friendly, the food was delicious, and Tivoli was awesome! We saw the nutcracker there, and the queen made all of the costumes!

  7. I also tried Royal Smushi for breakfast and it was amazing! I really love it. Lovely pics and post btw.
    Michellefranclee.com (check out my blog 🙂

    1. Indeed a very lovely place to live! My only complain is the ultra high-living cost, especially when you have to go out for dinner 😛

  8. With all the outstanding Christmas markets in Europe, that’s big praise for the Copenhagen market. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that a European Christmas Market trip is high on my list. I’ve been thinking Strasbourg or Köln, but now I should add Copenhagen. Wonderful photos Len…thanks for complicating my decision Len😉

    1. My bad 🙂 Perhaps you should make a Christmas market tour, starting from Strasbourg and northward to Copenhagen. And probably to Finland for an audience with Santa Claus 😛 The markets usually open as early as the end of November, and they last until New Year Eve.

  9. I loved Copenhagen – one of my favourite places in Europe! It seems I must visit during this season…what beautiful pictures!

  10. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    I always love the look and feel of a Christmas market (and Christmas in general). It’s the time of the year when people wind down, become less stressed out, engage more with friends and families, and be happier. Although personally I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate the joy it brings. Thanks for this warm post! (despite the fact that you went there in winter).

    1. Actually, it was not so cold. I could still pull my hands out of the coat and made photos :P. Just like you, I don’t personally celebrate Christmas. But I love the decoration, the food and the joy that people share. The usual grumpy faces are replaced by smiles. And we all have a good reason to sit together 😀

  11. Nếu buổi tối mà 5 độ C thì tuyệt quá, rất ấm. Bên này buổi tối chừng 20 độ F. Ở đâu cũng thấy rạo rực không khí Giáng sinh.

    1. Dạ đúng thế ạ. Mặc dù bản thân cháu không theo đạo, nhưng vẫn rất thích không khí Giáng sinh. Chắc có lẽ là thích mấy cái đồ trang trí rực rỡ thì đúng hơn. Lúc nhỏ thì còn háo hức chờ quà chứ giờ thì quá tuổi rồi 😛

    1. Many thanks, Susanne! I really love the Christmas atmosphere in Denmark. Somewhat magical! But if you ask me what is the thing I miss most. I would say the Aebleskiver 😛 Everything can be replicated but not this delicious sweet treat.

  12. I would love to go spend a December somewhere in Europe. My friend is in Munchen right now. He says the markets are beautiful but it’s so cold. I think if I were to look at all these lights, they would warm me up.

    1. You will get warm after a few cups of glogg 🙂 I remember that I drank two large cups. Then, I have to remove my coat because it was too warm.

      This year is definitely colder. But I think the park would look more beautiful with all the snow. Have a lovely holiday, Julie!

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