Fireworks on New Years eve on top of the Cable Car
©Yngve Olsen Sæbbe

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, dog- or reindeer sledding and traditional Christmas food like pepperkaker (gingerbread). 

The Lights of Polar Night

When the sun sets in late November, it won’t rise again until the end of 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. The official lighting of the Christmas tree is on the first Saturday in December. Join in on the crowd, live music and if you are lucky, the lady Aurora will dance above you.

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. 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 all opening hours for Christmas 2019 here 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 December 23rd towards the new year. December 23rd is the day Norwegians traditionally decorate the Christmas tree, which is done with the family. Christmas in Norway is celebrated on December 24th  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.  December 25th and 26th  are traditionally family days with the majority of shops and restaurants closed. The city life springs into life once more on the December 26th  in the evening, which is the traditional “party” night in Norway.

As New Years eve arrives, traditions is to celebrate with friends and/or family. 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 the mountain Fløya by the Cable Car. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!