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Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market, a Real Life Swedish fairy tale

Stockholm Gamla Stan Christmas Market Review

“Stockholm in the winter?  Are you insane?”

This was the standard reaction I received when I announced the addition of Stockholm to my Christmas market itinerary.

Ok, I sort of understood the reaction. While the allure of the midnight sun draws visitors to Sweden in the summer, I hadn’t heard many visitors mention the limited daylight and the mid-afternoon moon as a reason to visit Sweden in the winter.  But I wasn’t going to let something as silly as sunshine stop me from seeing what I’d heard would be a Scandinavian wonderland and a visit to the famous Stockholm Gamla Stan Christmas Market.  (Also check out our post on my second favorite Swedish Christmas market in the city center at Kungstradgården.

Stockholm, 2:00 p.m.

After an early afternoon arrival in Stockholm, my travel mate Linds and I dropped our bags off at the hotel and sprinted out the door, determined to beat the clock and reach the Gamla Stan Christmas market before dark.

swedish signs stockholm gamla stan

These colorful signs just happened to reflect the colors of the holiday season

We hadn’t really researched when nightfall would hit and estimated between 4 and 5 pm. We were wrong.

stockholm's old town historic center gamla stan dusk winter buildings sedish style

We took the quickest route to the Gamla Stan Christmas market through Stockholm’s old town. The Gamla Stan happens to be one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities so it was impossible hard not to be distracted. I may have stopped and taken a few quick snaps.

swedish architecture stockholm gamla stan old town
Stockholm, 2:30 pm.
  By the time we reached the Gamla Stan Christmas market,  afternoon had already given way to dusk. We hurried over to the wooden cabins dotting the 13th century square.

My Review of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market

My first impression of the Gamla Stan Christmas market– had I stepped into some kind of fantastic fairytale?  Not the kind with scary witches and burning stoves, but the kind with dancing woodland creatures and wish-granting fairies.  Yes, it was really that magical.

stockholm gamla stan christmas market review

Rosy-cheeked Swedish children beaming at the sweets before them.

gamla stan christmas market reviews stall candy cabin hut vendors

The candy cane vendor at the Gamla Stan Christmas Market.

gamla stan christmas market stockholm sweden decorations ornaments crafts

Most of the Christmas decorations had a distinctively Swedish look to them, like these bundled-up mini elves.

stockholm christmas market gamla stan elves decor stall booth cabin

The Stockholm Christmas market featured lots of swinging elves and Santas.

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swedish christmas ornaments gamla stan christmas market stockhom stall vendor

Red and white seemed to be a predominant color scheme for Swedish Christmas ornaments.

Gamla Stan Christmas market vendor stockholm stall booth cabin

Vendors took great care into making their stalls feel festive, adding to the storybook feel of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market. I adored this Swedish vendor’s hat as much as her delicious selection of local cheeses.

swedish crafts gamla stan christmas markets stockholm snapsglas

A perfect gift from the Gamla Stan Christmas market– a festive champagne flute (snapsglas) hand painted with a santa…or a skull.

stockholm gamla stan christmas market vendor review

This Gamla Stan Christmas market vendor specialized in lambswool items– I loved these baby shoes decorated with Swedish flags.

ornaments gamla stam christmas market stockholm

Sometimes you could barely see the Swedish vendors through their elaborate, carefully arranged displays of ornaments.

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This Swedish vendor charmed us into trying smoked reindeer meat. Our review? Pretty tasty!

swedish christmas market gamla stan stall honey jam food

I gave up on trying to read the Swedish signs.

After that it was time for some Glögg, the Swedish version of mulled wine.

Swedish bread baked goods gamla stan christmas market review

We checked out the Swedish baked goods and sweets.

drinks vendor food hot chocolate gamla stan christmas market stockholm sweden

Varm Choklad (hot chocolate) at Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market.

The only hot food option was a lone hot dog vendor.  We were in the mood for something heartier so we decided to grab dinner in town instead.

night stockholm gamla stan architecture curved roof buildings

By 3:30 pm, night had set on the Gamla Stan Christmas market. But instead of dampening the festive mood, it only made it even more magical.

 jul-hallbroad, a thin, cracker-like bread sweetened with cinnamon and spices gamla stan christmas market review

I picked up some jul-hallbroad, a thin, cracker-like bread sweetened with cinnamon and spices, to bring home with me.

wooden Stalls Gamla Stan Christmas Market. stockholm sweden

The wooden stalls lit up at night created a cozy feel at the Gamla Stan Christmas Market.

Swedish honey food gamla stan christmas market stockholm

Swedish honey from a local farm looks tempting.

swedish glogg xmas market

Swedish Glogg.

Post-Christmas Market, we Headed Back out to the Streets of Gamla Stan.

gamla stan cobblestone winter streets stockhom sweden

The dark skies and lantern-lit alleys gave Gamla Stan’s cobblestoned streets a luminescent quality.

Christmas lights  Gamla Stan Stockholm cobblestone street night

The Swedes excel at subtlety, even when it comes to their Christmas decorations. You won’t find blinking, colorful lights or giant plastic snowmen here.

Gamla Stan Stockholm cobblestone street night walking baby

The cold and dark doesn’t stop the Swedes from going about business as usual.

gamla stan streets in stockholm at night walking cobblestone sweden

Looking at this photo, it’s hard to believe these tweens aren’t breaking curfew but are just on their way home from school in the mid-afternoon.

cold swedish chihuahuas on walk in Stockholm

I was shocked these Swedish chihuahuas forgot to wear their coats.

stockholm gamla stan street

I’m not surprised that candles are so popular in Stockholm.

I could have wandered these ancient cobblestone lanes forever, but the frigid nordic air had started to catch up with us. Lesson learned– the next day I wore two pairs of my “thermal” socks.

We stopped to admire the Christmas trees for sale before hopping onto Stockholm’s easy-to-navigate metro. Loaded with bags full of Swedish Christmas market goodies, we set off to find a warm dinner.

Didn’t see enough photos of Stockholm’s Gamala Stan Christmas Market?  Click through for the rest of my photo review in the slide show:

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Have you shopped Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas market?  Share in the comments below!

Want to read about more Christmas markets?

 Swedish Christmas market in the city center at Kungstradgården.

Is New York City’s Union Square Holiday Market worth checking out?
Check out the Budapest Christmas Market here for the shopping
And here for the Budapest Market’s mouth watering-eats

Munich, Germany’s Medieval Christmas Market: Corny or Cool?

Souvenir Shopping Tip Sheet:
What to Get: Gorgeous Swedish glass, ceramic and felted wool ornaments, reindeer jerky and woolens
Where to Get it: Stockhom’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market. In Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
What to know: Hours: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm every day between November 23rd and December 23rd

All photos Copyright 2014 by Souvenir Finder, all rights reserved and may not be used in any way without express permission.

9 Responses to Stockholm’s Gamla Stan Christmas Market, a Real Life Swedish fairy tale

  1. sueslaght 12/14/2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Kristin it looks like you are having a wonderful adventure, albeit in the pitch black of the afternoon! Smoked reindeer meat….best not tell Santa.

    • Kristin Francis 12/14/2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Hi Sue! Just returned home, it was an incredible trip! Lol I think I have done my share to support Santa and his minions over the last couple of weeks– just going through all my loot. : )

      • sueslaght 12/14/2013 at 11:46 pm #

        Haha I was thinking how lucky for those receiving gifts from you! Unique treasures.

  2. fingknitcoolgal 12/15/2013 at 8:06 pm #

    I loved Swedish tree decorations! They will be perfect for my mini Christmas tree. BTW, Swedish chihuahuas wear no coat in the winter?! Comparing with them, Mr.B looks like such a softie (>.<)

    • Kristin Francis 12/16/2013 at 10:00 am #

      I’m not so sure those little pups weren’t cold– they were walking pretty quickly! Maybe I need to open a tiny dog accessories shop in Stockholm to supply them. : )

  3. ㅡㅠㅑ52ㅈ 12/18/2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Love the atmosphere, wish I were there!

    • Kristin Francis 12/18/2013 at 11:00 pm #

      It was definitely the most transporting market of all of the countries I’ve been to!

  4. Amy 01/07/2014 at 1:20 pm #

    This looks like such a magical experience!

    • Kristin Francis 01/07/2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks Amy, it really was! Would love to go back when it’s warm though!

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