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5 reasons to spend Christmas in Copenhagen

Why our favourite festive city break is a must-book for the holiday season

Copenhagen goes big on Christmas. Twinkling light displays, festive markets, and a generous helping of hygge are just some of the many reasons to visit the Danish capital in the run up to Christmas, and on the big day itself – which, for the Danes, is the 24th December. If you’re planning a getaway during the most wonderful time of the year, consider Copenhagen as your next stop to holiday cheer.

1. Cosy up at the Nimb Hotel for some festive fun

Nimb Hotel

Nimb Hotel

A stay at the Nimb Hotel is reason enough to visit Copenhagen, particularly when Christmas is just around the corner. Behind the striking white marble façade which comes alive with seasonal light displays at night and overlooks the famous Tivoli Gardens (more on this shortly!) you’ll find a relaxing haven of hygge. Many of the 38 cosily kitted out rooms and suites come with a working fireplace for guests to gather round with hot chocolates in hand, and giant freestanding bathtubs to luxuriate in with soothing Scandi-brand Meraki bath bombs – all set to your tunes of choice from the in-room Bang & Olufsen speakers.

Cakenhagen

Start your day the Danish way in the Nimb Brasserie with a warming bowl of øllebrød, a traditional porridge made using left over rye bread soaked in chocolate, orange juice, and beer overnight. Save room for some open sandwiches lavishly topped with local produce at Fru Nimb, or some sweet treats from Cakenhagen – a whimsical pastry shop which also supplies the hotel with homemade chocolates and truffles for the annual Nimb advent calendar. Keen bakers should book in with the Cakenhagen confectioners for a Danish cream puff (Flødeboller) workshop, where warm drinks and a few tasting samples will be served along the way.

Nimb Hotel

If you’re staying over a weekend during December, you’ll find an advent gift and hand-written notes in your room each Sunday – from a Danish gingerbread heart decorated with your name, to advent candles and traditional Danish fairytale books which little ones will love – while grown-ups can enjoy their own fairytale feel in the Nimb Bar, where creatively-crafted cocktails are inspired by the works of the beloved Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, who visited Tivoli Gardens in 1843. For the icing on the home-from-home cake, a Christmas tree can magically appear in your room on request, which can either be decorated by the hotel florist or by guests, with all the tinsel and trimmings provided.

2. Experience the magic of Tivoli Gardens

Being a guest at the Nimb comes with another perk – complimentary access to Tivoli Gardens, the city’s popular amusement park which transforms into a winter wonderland of snow-dusted stalls, Nordic cabins, and fun-fair rides on the hotel’s doorstep. A long standing Christmas attraction for both locals and tourists, Tivoli Gardens have been the centre of Copenhagen’s festivities since they opened in 1843.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens photographed by Chloe Frost-Smith.

The smell of freshly baked Danish doughnuts and crunchy cinnamon popcorn fills the air, impossibly tall trees jingle with thousands of decorations, and merry tunes played by the Tivoli Youth Guard can be heard from every cosy corner of the gardens. During the annual Christmas light ceremony, Tivoli lake is illuminated with a dazzling display of lights and fireworks. If this doesn’t fill you with festive spirit, we don’t know what will. Christmas at Tivoli runs from 19th November 2021 to 2nd January 2022.

3. Eat kransekake, drink gløgg, and be merry!

Traditional Danish

Traditionally served around Christmas and on New Year’s Eve with champagne, kransekake – a marzipan cake stacked high in iced rings – is a celebratory sweet treat which is sure to get you in the holiday mood. This ‘wreath cake’ is best washed down with a warm glass of gløgg, the Nordic version of mulled wine. Stroll along the colourful waterfront at Nyhavn and you’ll find plenty of stalls selling the spiced stuff, along with brunkager, pebernødder, and vaniljekranse (Danish Christmas cookies). There’s also a bubbling craft beer scene here if you’re planning a jolly good evening down the værtshuse (pub).

4. The shopping scene is as cool as the weather

Sostrene Grene

Sostrene Grene

Hygge-fy your home this holiday season with Søstrene Grene.

Aside from the city’s countless Christmas markets, from The King’s New Square to HC Andersen Julemarked, there are plenty of places to pick up some gifts – whether you’re looking for traditional stocking fillers or something a little more alternative. For festive homeware and delicate Danish decorations, Illums Bolighus has Christmas all wrapped up – think pine scented candles, handmade nutcracker ornaments, and holly embroidered linens. Family-owned Søstrene Grene is filled with pretty trinkets and DIY Christmas guides, like hand-sewn felt decorations and hand-blocked wrapping paper.

Stilleben

Add some colour to your Christmas dinner with Stilleben’s seasonal tablescapes.

And when it comes to the ultimate Christmas tablescape, Stilleben sets the scene for a festive feast to remember, with colour-popping ceramics, candlesticks, and glassware. If you’d like to bring home the more minimalistic, Scandi aesthetic, A Door on Istedgade is not only a beautifully styled boutique to browse, but has a curated Christmas collection of beeswax candles, wool slippers, fluffy dressing gowns, and artisan soaps (pictured below).

A Door Copenhagen

5. Have a hyggelig time with the happiest people on earth

Denmark regularly tops international surveys when it comes to measuring happiness, and there’s no doubting that the Danes are amongst some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is closely linked to social equality and community spirit – and Denmark does well on both. Or is it all thanks to one of Scandinavia’s more recent cultural exports: hygge.

Hygge

For Maria Oldenbjerg, the ever-smiling Director of the Nimb Hotel, hygge is difficult to describe but easy to feel. “Hygge is a situation or feeling of cosiness, intimacy and comfort. In Danish, it’s an adjective and noun but also a verb – you can hygge! Most often, hygge is associated with relaxed get-togethers, but you can also hygge alone. At Nimb Hotel, hygge is an important ingredient all year round. We are an exclusive boutique hotel like none other in the world and yet we are also an intimate, homely, and stylish place. Many guests use the term hygge when describing a stay with us.”

Hygge

Whatever the reason, there’s an undeniable feeling of warmth in Copenhagen (despite the Nordic temperatures) – from the friendly ‘hej’ on the street to sharing a cinnamon bun with loved ones, Copenhagen deserves a place on every traveller’s Christmas wish list.