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The Festival of Lucia

Christmas markets in Gothenburg

Christmas markets in GothenburgIf you are thinking of visiting Sweden in the run-up to Christmas, then prepare to be enchanted. With Nordic style very much to the fore, any sense of gaudiness or tackiness will be noticeably – and mercifully – absent.

Gothenburg is exceptionally charming during the festive season: there are over 5 million twinkling lights at Liseberg alone, Scandinavia’s grandest Christmas market. But, if you wish to turn the magic up another notch, then you should think seriously about coinciding your visit with the 400-year-old Festival of Lucia on 13 December.

Christmas markets in GothenburgOn this day throughout Sweden, the ‘queen of light’ is honoured by church concerts and processions – many of which are so beautiful and atmospheric that they bring a lump to even the most cynical of throats.

Pick the right spot and you will see groups of young girls emerging from the winter’s gloom and gently silence the crowds with a bewitching procession of light. Dressed as Lucia’s maidens in flowing white gowns, each girl holds a candle and wears a wreath of glowing candles in her hair.

Christmas markets in GothenburgIn Gothenburg, a competition is held each year to crown the city’s own ‘Lucia’ deep within the hushed, candle-lit  interior of the monumental and historic 'Vasakyrken', Vasa Church, (right).

The winning ‘queen’ and her white-clad entourage then go on to sing beautiful melodies at various public venues around the city, such as the unique ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ in the heart of Drottningtorget Square, as well as entertaining the poor and the elderly at shelters and nursing homes.

Christmas markets in GothenburgOne thing’s for sure: if you are fortunate enough to witness these girls proceeding solemnly in their pure-white robes, giving out the unique Lucia (saffron) buns; or local boys, who – not to be outdone – are dressed as gingerbread men, elves and stjärngossar (‘star boys’ or the Three Magi); you cannot fail to be moved by the spirit of Christmas. Truly magical.

To enjoy magical Gothenburg this December, take one of our 3-night Christmas Market breaks. The Festival of Lucia takes place on and around 13 December (find out more on the West Sweden Tourist Board’s excellent website).

Posted: 30/10/2013 15:57:09 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: competitions, festivals, heritage, snow, Sweden


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