The Very Swedish Christmas
Snowy rooftops, flickering candles and the aroma of just-baked Gingerbread: Sweden does an amazing job of putting you in the Christmas spirit.
If you really want to share some magical time with your family this December, then this combination of festive Stockholm and Lapland's most exclusive log cabin is as good as it gets.
Your children's faces will light up and, let's face it, so will yours, as you shop and fika your way through Stockholm's Christmas Market, have a private audience with St. Nick and swoosh across the snow behind a husky team under the Northern Lights.
Our Magical Swedish Story
“Since retiring, we try to spend as much time with the Grandchildren as possible and decided that this year we would take them on a little pre-Christmas adventure. The thought of roaring fires in a log cabin, sleigh rides through the snow, and steaming hot chocolates in the Christmas Market all sounded so magical, and just perfect for two adventure-loving twins!
We kept all the details a secret until the day before, although trying to keep classified information from two extremely inquisitive eight-year-olds was quite a feat, I can tell you that!
Our adventure began in a very snowy Stockholm. The Lydmar Hotel was glorious, with views of the Royal Castle from our Suite, and walking distance from The National Museum, which the twins were thrilled about. We spent the afternoon wandering down cobbled streets in search of the 130-foot Christmas tree that we had been recommended to visit, and once found, sat beside it with a glass of mulled wine (white chocolate warmers for the children), gazing at the thousands of twinkling lights sprinkled on its piny branches.
The Christmas Market at Skansen was absolutely incredible and was enjoyed by us, just as much as the children. Occupying a grand spot on the park-island of the Djurgården, the market was the epitome of Christmas; aromas of freshly-baked gingerbread wafting, sounds of Swedish folk bands playing carols, and a herd of reindeer grazing beside the stalls, which the twins couldn’t wait to have their photos taken with. Later that afternoon, when the sun had gone down, we visited the nearby Seglora Church for a very special candle-lit Christmas concert. The children sat in absolute silence, captivated by the voices of the choir singers, and it was magic to see their little faces light up when they heard a melody that they recognised, even if it was being sung in a different language.
The second half of our adventure was spent in Kiruna. We flew by private jet from Stockholm, and enjoyed a memorable flight, following the coastline around the Gulf of Bothnia, looking down at magnificent snow scenes. At the airport, we were met by Hans and Raffa, with their team of huskies, who whisked our luggage onto a sleigh and settled us and the children on board with Arctic parka jackets, in each of our sizes, and fur blankets to keep our legs warm. We then embarked on the sleigh journey of a lifetime, through frosty woodlands and over fluffy snow mounds, until we reached our Arctic Lodge.
In stark contrast to the bustle of Stockholm, Kiruna was untamed and wildly beautiful. Our lodge was surrounded by snow-capped fir trees, and we spent our days exploring the forests on the back of snowmobiles and eating lunchtime feasts around a crackling fire.
We had a splendid Butler, named Peder,and he spent a lot of time with the twins, making traditional wooden tree decorations and gingerbread houses in the lodge, whilst we relaxed in the hot tub or enjoyed peaceful walks around the frozen lakes.
On our final afternoon in Kiruna, we had taken the twins out for a walk around the forest in search of icicles and snow rabbits, which they would chase around the trees in their snowshoes. When we returned to the lodge, it was if the Christmas fairy had been and transformed the living area into a real-life Winter Wonderland! A 10ft Christmas tree was standing next to the fireplace, decorated with hundreds of twinkling, golden lights.
Peder greeted us with freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and mugs of warm Lingonberry brew, which we sipped around the tree, as the children counted the baubles hanging from the delicate branches. Just then, there was a knock at the door, and to the twin’s complete delight, we had three magical visitors in the form of Santa Claus and two of his trusty reindeer. The twins sat around the fire, as Santa read the story of The Princess Mouse, a traditional Swedish folktale, and then handed them each a gift, which they promised not to open until Christmas Day. We all bid Santa a fond farewell, as he boarded his sleigh, and we returned to the dining room for a final Swedish feast, prepared by Peder – the most perfect ending to a truly spellbinding, very Swedish Christmas!”
The Stockholm Experience
You'll begin in the Swedish capital, where we'll set you up at the classiest hotel in town, the Hotel Lydmar, a chic family-friendly urban bolthole with tremendous views across the harbour.
Begin by strolling the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan (The Old Town), where every second shop seems to have a glowing advent window display – it's a great place to shop for presents, from designer goods and stationery to wooden toys and textiles, interspersed with frequent pitstops to experience fika - that most quintessential of Swedish institutions – in the local coffee shops.
After lunch head to the Christmas Market at Skansen for live music, traditional sweets and fun activities for young kids of all ages before gathering with a glass of glögg around the 130-foot Christmas tree on Skeppsbron waterfront with over 5,000 dazzling coloured lights.
Swapping town mouse life for that of his country cousin, you'll now fly north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to Kiruna.
Stepping off the plane, you'll be greeted by a yelping dog team and expert guides who will take you mushing through the snowy woods to Fjellborg Arctic Lodge, your home for the next few days. This beautiful lodge is your private Arctic hideaway and is all flickering candles, frosted windows and wood-burners. It also has a very enticing hot tub, perfect for settling into with a glass of champagne and scanning the sky for the first shimmer of green and red.
Kitted out with Arctic parkas and fleece caps in your size, you'll spend your days exploring the frozen lakes and forests by sled and snowmobile, pausing for a snowball fight or to try your luck with a little ice-fishing. Evenings are filled with gourmet cuisine and story-telling around a crackling fire.
Since Santa happens to live not too far away, and can always be enticed over with some fresh baking, your last day will begin by building a gingerbread house, then making yule decorations and ice lanterns, and finally donning snowshoes to find the best-ever Christmas tree, bringing it home and making it sparkle. When Santa can resist no longer, you'll get to ask him everything you ever wanted to know, meet the reindeer and (if you have been good this year) go for a ride in his magic sleigh.