A wonderful julmarknad (Swedish Christmas Market) takes place every November in the Swedish Church in London. It is one of the best Christmas markets anywhere!
In 2016 the market will be open on:
• Thursday 17th November (11.00 to 20.00)
• Saturday 19th November (11.00 to 19.00)
• Sunday 20th November (12.00 to 17.00)
Address: 6 Harcourt Street, Marylebone, London W1H 4AG,
Nearest tube stations: Baker Street and Edgeware Street.
Avoid the queues
The market is extremely popular and attracts more than 6,000 visitors over the 3 days it is held (note that it is always closed on the Friday). Try and avoid Saturday if you can, because the queues to get in are always very long. (It does get very hot inside on Saturdays with so many people, so pay-up and leave your coat in the cloakroom.)
Is it only for Swedes?
No. Most of the visitors obviously have some connection with Sweden, but there is probably more English than Swedish spoken.
November might seem too early for a Christmas market but most of the people who run the stalls are also in the choir which is extremely busy in December as they normally stage about 18 Lucia concerts each year.
The market is held in the Ulrika Eleonora Church which was built in 1911 and was based on the design for London's original Swedish Church in Wapping, which opened in 1728. The building is spacious, even if it doesn't feel it during the Christmas Market, with grand staff accommodation, a hall, reading room, library and parish office. The hall is downstairs and is transformed into the market whilst the church itself becomes an excellent café.
What do they sell?
As soon as you walk into the hall you catch the aroma of glögg wafting through the hall, the sound of Swedish Christmas music and masses of typical Swedish Christmas decorations. In total there are nine main sections:
• Christmas decorations
• Glögg (mulled wine with raisins and almonds)
• Godis (sweets/candy)
Where are all the men?
A highlight of the Julmarknad is the way all the women serving on the stalls and in the café are dressed in wonderful costumes and all wearing big smiles despite, or perhaps because of, the absence of many men. Apart from the Kyrkoherde (Church pastor) and a couple of others, Swedish men are not to be seen. Where do they all go at Julmarknad time?
On the viltboden (game stall) you can meet a man: Christer Frånlund, who will be selling some wonderful reindeer, älg (elk/moose) and cured salmon. It's fantastic stuff and priced accordingly. The reindeer is my favourite and is purchased direct from the Sami people in northern Sweden. A piece of frozen reindeer is ideal for Christer's tjälknöl recipe, a fantastic treat for a special occasion. Don't worry, all the stalls take credit cards and the guys running the viltboden always become much friendlier when they see a credit card.
I don't why, but Swedes love Varm korv (hotdogs) and so there are two hotdog kiosks: one outside at the front of the church and another downstairs.
I prefer to eat upstairs in the café which serves tasty open sandwiches (eggs and prawns, smoked salmon, Christmas ham with Swedish mustard, meatballs with beetroot salad and ansjovis with egg) and lots and lots of wonderful cakes. Finding a seat is sometimes a problem, but once you get sat down there is always a good supply of coffee served by attractive Swedish waitresses.
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