If you are sitting home and wonder where the best place on earth would be to go travel during December, search no more as we can tell you! Tromsø is the only place to be! With a city this far north, there will be enough possibilities to see the northern lights, spot some whales in the fjords, to breathe in the fresh mountain air and to get into the right Christmas spirit from the decorations surrounding the city.
The Lights of Polar Night
When the sun sets on 26th November, it won’t rise again until 21st January, which gives the city’s decoration lights a good possibility to show their worth. But what does “the polar night” mean? Well, of course it means that there will be darkness, but when the weather is good and without heavy clouds, there will be a fantastic blue flicker in the twilight hours and instead of sunrise, you will get a rich pink, yellow and orange light in the sky. In addition, the lights from the city and the light reflection from the snow mean that you won’t walk around in total darkness! The big Christmas tree that is located in the city square Stortorget (literally translated to “The Big Square”) will also contribute to lighten up the city, as on the first Saturday in December it will be lit up. Here, people will gather, live music played and if you are lucky, the lady Aurora will be in the sky above.
Christmas Markets and Shopping
Throughout December, there will be plenty of Christmas markets all around the city. Every Saturday in December in Stortorget, there will be “Bondens Marked”, similar to farmers market, where there will be possibilities to buy different kind of homemade food and handicrafts - all from local distributors that will be present at the stands to chat to. Besides all the markets, there will be many possibilities to buy unique presents from Northern Norway, from the many stores in the city. Everything from woollen Norwegian clothes, beverages from the 143 year old “Mack” brewery and traditional Sami products from the Indigenous people of the Arctic. There is even the possibility to blow your own glass at the northern most glass blowing studio “Blåst”! However, it is important to know that not all shops and restaurants will be open from December 24 to January 1, and the public transport can have other departures than normal. Check the list with opening hours and public transport here.
The Christmas Holiday Traditions
As Christmas is a cherished holiday for Norwegians, there are some very special traditions throughout the days from 23rd December towards the new year. December 23 is the day Norwegians traditionally decorate the Christmas tree, which is done with the family. Christmas in Norway is celebrated on the 24th December where the family is gathered and throughout the evening, there is a great traditional Christmas dinner where the traditional dishes are steamed ribs of salted lamb (pinneskjøtt) and roasted pork (ribbe). Later there will be dancing around the Christmas tree while singing Christmas songs, and finally the presents under the Christmas tree will be opened. Many families also attend Christmas church services this day. The 25th and 26th December are traditionally family days with the majority of shops and restaurants closed… although some remain open. The city life springs into life once more on the 26th December in the evening, which is the traditional “party” night in Norway.
New Year’s Eve in Tromsø
New Year’s Eve is spent either with family and friends at home or in the city centre with friends and loved ones. This evening also contains a noble dinner and when the clock strikes midnight a firework show will appear from the mountain above the city. It is very different how the Norwegians celebrate Christmas but the most important is to remember the year that was with an evening in good company.