Well.. every year, around this time, I start posting lots of articles about all the wonderful Christmas themed things to see & do in Stockholm. As we all know, the holiday season will be very different across the globe this year due to the continuing (and escalating) pandemic. This means that many traditional activities, like concerts, Lucia parades, gingerbread competitions, Christmas markets and New Year’s nightclub parties will be tricky, if not impossible. But, there are some glimmers of hope. You will notice that at times I have to make educated guesses… as you can imagine, certain things are uncertain as things are these days. I will edit the list below as I get more information. 

  • Christmas lights/decorations. We will start with the best news first… the one thing that definitely won’t change this year! Stockholm has an annual holiday light display, using hundreds of thousands of LED lights all through the downtown commercial district. They include, in various squares, woodland animals made out of lights. The wandering moose are espcially popular! These lights will, hopefully, bring some much needed cheer. Plus, looking at the lights is a corona-safe activity as long as you keep socially distant. At the Hotel Rival, we have special maps for the light display with suggested viewing routes. Starts on November 14th. 

  • Christmas market. The news isn’t as good here. The main market in Gamla Stan (old town) has been canceled this year unfortunately. Considering that the royal palaces are all closed until further notice… my guess is that there will be no markets at the Royal Mews or Drottningholm (I can’t currently find any information on their websites). For some good news… Skansen will be doing a variation of their market on the four (Advent) weekends leading up to Christmas. Instead of having a market in the main square, which can cause crowds, they are spreading it out throughout the park. Along marked routes, they will be selling all of the usual holiday goodies and decorations. Please note that you have to purchase your entrance tickets in advance for these weekends in order to keep socaia distancing! 
    Christmas at NK department store.

  • Lucia and other holiday concerts. The traditional celebration of Lucia generally takes place on December 13th in churches, shopping centers and other public spaces. The current restriction in Sweden for public gatherings is 50. My guess is that many will be held, but with (obviously) smaller audiences… making pre-purchasing of tickets necessary. Contact me directly if you will be staying at Hotel Rival on December 13th. Other holiday concerts may be more difficult due to the restrictions. However, there is a loophole in that shows/concerts may be held if it is with an audience who are dining (i.e. seated and tables spaced out). 
  • New Year’s. This is obviously not canceled… however, the Swedish government recently added a restriction requiring all restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs to stop selling alcohol after 10pm. This includes December 31st. So, no counting down the final seconds of the year in a nightclub or bar. You can, of course, have a wonderful dinner in a nice restaurant… but you will have two hours to kill between dinner and the midnight fireworks over the harbor. That shouldn’t be too hard. We have a great New Year’s package at the Hotel Rival and we are just a ten minute walk from the harbor.  
  • Gingerbread House competition. ArkDes (Center for Architecture and Design) has an annual gingerbread house competition featuring entries from architects, bakers and children. The theme for this year’s competition is something we all know too well this year: “distance”. Even though ArkDes is temporarily closed (like many other museums), it looks like they are still planning on holding the competition. Fingers crossed. It is planned to be shown between Dec 4th and Jan 10th. 

  • Ice Skating Rink at Kungsträdgården. We end on a good note as well. It looks the popular outdoor ice skating rink at Kungsträdgården will be open this winter. Though the website says that certain restrictions will be in place because of the pandemic. I am guessing this means they will only allow a certain amount of people onto the rink at a time to avoid crowding.

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