Christmas streets in Tromsø
©Janita Zenteno

Christmas and New Years in Tromsø

Dreaming of a white Christmas? You’re definite to experience a Winter Wonderland if you visit us in Tromsø around Christmas. Combine the Christmas spirit in the city with Northern Lights tours, dog- or reindeer sledding and traditional Christmas food made with fresh local products. 

The Lights of Polar Night

When the sun sets in late November, it won’t rise again until the end of January. Luckily we have the city lights and Christmas decorations lighting up the streets of Tromsø! But what does Polar Night really mean? Well, of course it means that there will be darkness, but we do have shades of lights throughout the mid-day hours. Before sunrise you will experience magical colours of pink, yellow and orange before the special blue light we get as the sun sets. This is of course if the weather is clear! In addition to this the city lights and the snow will light up the almost constant darkness. On the first Sunday of December we will light the big Christmas tree located in the city square Stortorget. We recommend joining in on the crowd, live music and if you are lucky, lady Aurora will dance above you.

Christmas markets and shopping

Throughout December, there will be a variety of Christmas markets around the city. The list of events will be updated. Besides all the markets, there are plenty of shops selling unique presents from Northern Norway, all around the city. Buy locally produced leatherbags, knit and art in stores like Husfliden, Snarby Strikkestudio, Galleri Nord or Krane Galleri. In the shopping malls Jekta, Nerstranda and Veita you will find everything you need for Christmas. At Polaria Shop and in the Tourist Information you can buy Christmas gifts like locally produced enamel mugs, jewellery, wool hats, chocolates and spices. If you want to get a Christmas gift you can share with family or friends you can buy gift cards at Visit Tromsø. In the northernmost glassblowing studio, Blåst, they produce handmade glass.

Christmas food and traditions

Christmas is a cherished holiday for many Norwegians, and very important is the food traditions. Several restaurants in Tromsø focus on local ingridients served in season, and Christmastime is no different. Enjoy lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) and ribbe (pork belly) at Mathallen, delicacies from the sea at Fiskekompaniet or locally brewed beer at Tromsø Mikrobryggeri. If you need a break between shopping Christmas gifts, there are many cozy cafés and restaurants that are more than happy to welcome you in! 

In Norway there are some very special traditions in December starting with the 23rd towards New years Eve. December 23rd is the day before Christmas Eve, and many spend this evening with familiy or friends. Christmas in Norway is celebrated on December 24th. Many families go to church services during the day and open their Christmas gifts in the evening. December 25th and 26th are traditionally family days with the majority of shops and restaurants closed. The city springs into life once more on the evening of December 26th, which is the traditional party night in Norway. When New Years Eve arrives, the best spots for seeing the firework in Tromsø is in various places on top of the island like Charlottenlund, Alfheim or Tromsø Maritime skole, from the bridge or on mount Storsteinen by the Cable Car. 

Winter activities

In Tromsø you can easily combine Christmas shopping and dining with traditional activities. Bring your family or friends to go reindeersledding in snowcovered landscapes, or combine seeing the Northern Lights with dogsledding. You can also go on guided snowshoeing tours in the mountains around Tromsø. The boats along the harbour are happy to bring you out at sea to experience the blue hour (at sunset) or you can join dinner cruises under the Northern Lights. In the city you can stay warm in the sauna with views over the Arctic Cathedral and the Cable Car, or you can visit our museums and adventure centers to get to know more about our history. Book all winter activities here. We're excited to see you in Tromsø during Christmas!