Visit Helsinki

Countdown to Christmas: Magical Helsinki Christmas Markets

Helsinki is the Christmas City - visit one of the magical Christmas markets during your stay.

The first substantial snow usually arrives in time for Christmas in the Finnish capital, draping the city in white and creating an appropriately festive ambience. Join in with the locals and celebrate Christmas with your family in the traditional way; warming open fires, carol singing, old-fashioned markets, hugs from Santa, shopping, and cosy restaurants.

Here are some suggestions for activities to enjoy in Helsinki before your visit to Santa's Lapland.

Seurasaari Christmas Path

The Seurasaari Christmas Path is a pre-Christmas event for families with children. It offers children and the young at heart a glimpse into the world of fairy tales and old Finnish Christmas traditions, while also conveying the basic message of Christmas. The Path features around 30 different activities, including visits from Father Christmas and Mrs Claus.

Typically held in the afternoon on the middle Sunday of December.

Helsinki Christmas Market (Tuomaan markkinat)

The annual Helsinki Christmas Market takes place at the beautiful Senate Square, with over 120 booths selling everything from handicrafts to canned foods for the Christmas table. Stroll among the booths and enjoy the old-fashioned Christmas atmosphere. Watch artisans at work and say hi to Santa Claus. Great food has become a priority of this market, so make sure you enjoy the food stalls and food court.

A unique feature is the popular Christmas Sauna in the inner courtyard of the Bock House. The Winter Terrace – an idyllic hidden yard – is located right by the sauna, inviting you to enjoy vin chaud and other refreshments.

Helsinki Senate Square Christmas Market credit ©AnttiHarkio VisitFinland
Image credit: ©Antti Harkio | Visit Finland

The market typically runs from 4th December until 22nd December. It is closed on the 23rd and 24th December. Open from 11 am until 8 pm, so don't arrive too late. The food court on Friday and Saturday nights stays open a little later.

Helsinki Christmas Market at Esplanadi Park

Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of Helsinki at the Christmas Market in Esplanadi Park. Located centrally, this market embodies the holiday spirit with a variety of stalls offering traditional Finnish cuisine, handmade crafts, and seasonal gifts. Wander through the illuminated stalls, enjoying the scent of mulled wine and freshly roasted almonds. Explore unique artisanal goods and local specialties, ideal for holiday shopping or mementos. The Esplanadi Christmas Market is a popular destination where both locals and visitors can enjoy Helsinki's magical ambiance during the festive season.

Suomenlinna Christmas Event

King Gustav III and the Old Militia of Helsinki open the Christmas season in Suomenlinna with a resounding cannon salute. Visitors can buy products made by local craftspeople and other artists, taste Christmas delicacies in the cafes and restaurants, and visit some of the museums and craft workshops. Children can also follow the Fortress Gnome’s route around the fortress.

There is a printable daily schedule on the website detailing all the concerts, carols, and walking tours during the event. Highlights include the 18th Century Christmas Market and the lovely Christmas Mass.

Helsinki Icepark

This isn't a market as such, but it is an active and fun thing to do before or after your market visits. Helsinki Icepark at Railway Station Square is a perfect way to enjoy the Finnish winter in an urban setting. It makes it easy to enjoy skating or simply a cup of hot chocolate in the cafe while watching others skate. The Icepark offers its visitors entertaining and instructive programs every day, including regular skating lessons by licensed instructors. Skates are available for rent; ice hockey sticks are not allowed. The Park also hosts events, from live music to special performances.

Normal opening hours: Mon–Fri 2pm–9pm, Sat 10am–9pm, Sun 10am–6pm

Christmas Shopping in Helsinki

The switching-on of the Christmas lights along Aleksanterinkatu – the official Christmas street – is a sure sign that the festive season is underway. Shop windows are decorated to outbid each other in the Christmas shopper stakes. Aleksanterinkatu, one of Helsinki’s best-known shopping streets, is a natural focus for gift seekers. Lights typically get switched on the third Sunday of November at 2pm.

The unveiling of the Christmas window in the Stockmann department store on the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Keskuskatu is an eagerly awaited annual event for young Helsinki citizens. Generally, the windows open on the third Sunday of November from 2pm, but check the exact date when you are visiting.

Christmas Shopping

Christmas lights turning on in Helsinki
Images from Visit Helsinki

We also recommend exploring some 50 Degrees North tours that include a visit to Helsinki as well as the following travel blog articles by our destination specialists:

What to do in Helsinki

Nordic Design and Food Tours

Things to see and do in Helsinki with kids

Experience summer time in Helsinki with the locals

Countdown to Christmas: Magical Helsinki Christmas Markets

Our guide to Restaurants in Helsinki

Helsinki Highlights: Visit a local sauna

May Day Celebrations in Helsinki

And much more regarding Finland