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Old fashioned Danish Christmas hygge

Step back in time to explore the beginnings of all those Danish Christmas traditions we have come to love living here in Denmark.

Photographs: Den Gamle By

Text: Erin Gustafson

This year has seen most of Denmark’s cosy Christmas markets cancelled, and the traditional julefrokosts, or Christmas lunches axed. But before you drown your jingle bells in another glass of gløgg, there are still plenty of safe and festive ways to keep your season merry and bright.


Viborgvej 2, 8000 Aarhus C

400 years of Danish history come alive behind the walls of The Old City, or Den Gamle By, an impressive open-air history museum in the middle of Aarhus. Follow the “julerute,” or Christmas route and enjoy costumed characters in period dress as they share the evolution of Danish Christmas traditions. Taste the Christmas cookies in the bakery. See what’s for sale in the market from the seventies. Plenty of places to explore outside and soak up the scenes, but remember your masks as you make your way through each historic building.


Hjerlhedevej 14, 7830 Vinderup

Young and old alike will love the Hjerl Hede cultural museum in Jutland. Christmas is a perfect season to explore Denmark’s oldest working farm village. Say hello to the animals and taste the classic vaniljekranse cookies made fresh at the bakery. Take a scenic tour on the little train or a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Walk through the workshops and pick up some products for your own traditional Danish Christmas dinner. But don’t miss the season, Hjerl Hede will be open with plenty of safe distanced space for visitors the first two weekends in December.


Torvet 5, 5970 Ærøskøbing

Take a ferry to the island of Ærø in the south Funen archipelago for a dose of adorable Danish village charm. While their classic julemarked won’t be happening, the town still twinkles as you wind through the decorated lanes and pop into shops along the cute cobblestone streets of Ærøskobing. Don’t miss Den Gamle Købmandsgaard for an impressive selection of locally produced goods and a cosy spot for lunch or coffee.

Picture courtesy of Frilandsmuseet


Kongevejen 100, 2800 Kongens Lyngby

Similar to the Hjerl Hede in Jutland, the Frilandsmuseet in Kongens Lyngby offers a walk back in time to Danish village life. The Open Air Museum is one of the largest of its kind in the world - sitting only thirty minutes outside the capital. This year Christmas happens the first three weekends of December when you can follow naughty Nisse and maybe meet the Julemanden, Denmark’s own Santa. Music, theatre, history and more on display as you move through the farm. Take in the sweet Swedish Saint Lucia Day parade as it illuminates the dark Danish afternoons of the 12-13th December at 13:30.


Klostergade 12, 3230 Græsted

The pastoral setting of the former Esrum Abbey in North Zealand is especially pretty dressed up for a classic medieval Christmas. Littles will love the nature playground if the weather is reasonable. Step inside the Monastery to see what life was like for the monks who worked here from the 12th century. Warm up with the seasonal menu in the Mill Café. Christmas activities and frothy Abbey ales will be on tap at the Kloster for the first two weekends of December.


Kronborg 2 C, 3000 Helsingør

Even without their annual Christmas market, the Kronborg Castle in Helsingør will still be decking their halls. Having borrowed some historic pieces from the Frilands Museet, the rooms and grounds of Hamlet’s infamous castle will be another seasonal skip back through time. Children can make crafts and hunt for clues hidden around the castle to help Santa save Christmas 2020. Characters in 16th century dress will tell Christmas stories and play tunes to up the julehygge, happening the first two Saturdays and Sundays this month.

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