Helsinki Christmas Market and many more
Christmas markets spring up all over Helsinki to contribute to this warm, special atmosphere.
Christmas is officially on its way and so is Christmas fever with all its smells, delicacies, handicrafts and best of all, Father Christmas himself who will be present in splendiferous red. From now on thrilling expectation mounts as every window of the calendar is opened heralding that day of days when ribbons fly, bright paper is ripped off boxes and wishes are finally revealed. In the run up, Christmas markets spring up all over Helsinki and beyond not only to cash in on eager shoppers on the lookout for something unique but also to contribute to this warm, special atmosphere. Here are some:
Tuomaan Markkinat – Helsinki Christmas Market
Surrounded by historic buildings at the foot of Helsinki Cathedral on Senate Square, more than 130 tents have a selection of locally produced jams, honey, mustards and clever gift ideas for sale. You just sip on a comforting ‘glögi’, a type of mulled wine with all those familiar smells of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and berries. When the chill really bites, step inside one of the food tents. Sit yourself down to a real meal of everything seasonal from traditional porridge to vegan burgers. The old-fashioned merry-go-round with rides for free put a smile on the faces of children. And also pricks that nostalgic memory in the hearts of adults gazing on.
From 2 – 22 December: www.helsinkichristmasmarket.fi
Naisten joulumessut – Women’s Christmas Fair
On the peninsula of fairy-tale Katajanokka, organised by the Women’s Cultural Association, this fair has its roots in the feminist movement. To the time when Gösta Stenman’s Art Salon showcased the work of Finnish women helping them to earn some extra money. So, a section of the stands is designated for elderly women selling their particular brand of goodies. The products for sale seem to be more original every year with some truly creative ideas to delight the buyer as well as the recipient of the present.
From 6 – 10 December: www.naistenjoulumessut.fi/6
Vanhan Joulutori – Christmas Market at the Old Student House
With free entrance to this remarkable period building in the heart of the city, you enter into a world of traditionalism with a contemporary spin. Many of the artisan, handmade goods from soap to leather jewellery are sold at a reasonable price. And by some of Finland’s innovative designers and crafts people.
From 15 – 22 December: www.vanhanjoulutori.fi
All three of the market halls in Helsinki have their own particular trademark and ambience.
Upstairs at Hakaniemi Hall, fabric, ribbon, buttons and cards mostly from Finland are a huge draw card for those of us who like to personalise our Christmas letters and wrappings. Food is plentiful and there’s some of the best cheese in town from Lentävä Lehmä aka Flying Cow.
A happy and youthful crowd of vendors inhabit Hietalahti Market Hall. They’ll make sure your festive season is as lively as it’s cracked up to be with a wide range of local and foreign restaurants. All of them using the freshest of ingredients. The ‘small dish shop’ or Pieni Astiakauppa is a gem for easy-to-pack fun ceramics.
Traditional but not old-school is the Old Market Hall specialising in all those things you’ve always heard about Finland. Things like pickled herring, reindeer, sauna-smoked ham and chocolate. Speaking of the latter, Kultasuklaa is a real artisan operation using mostly Finnish ingredients. Although cocoa may be hard to find in this neck of the woods.
www.hakaniemenkauppahalli.fi/, www.hietalahdenkauppahalli.fi/en/, www.vanhakauppahalli.fi/en/
Have you’ve been good and you’ve set the record straight? Then you might even get a glimpse of Santa. He will be on his way to all those delivery spots where he’s promised to drop in.