Lillehammer is an interesting place to visit mid-winter, as you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience snow. That’s why tourists flock to the city at this time of year, for winter sports and picturesque surroundings. The Lillehammer Christmas Market is another reason to visit.
In this article, you’ll find details for planning a visit to the markets, such as confirmed 2023 dates and what you can expect to find there.
Lillehammer Christmas Market 2023
Lillehammer stands out for its combination of Olympic legacy and scenic Norwegian landscape.
The Christmas market distinguishes itself through traditional and contemporary features, set against a backdrop of old wooden buildings and bustling streets.
You’ll find welcoming stalls that provide everything from festive food to farmers’ produce. While shopping, you can also enjoy sleigh rides and even a visit from Santa.
A unique aspect of the market is its proximity to Maihaugen, an open-air museum where you can learn about historical Christmas traditions.
If you’re interested in arts and crafts, stop at Fabrikken and the Lillehammer Art Museum. The town is also within easy reach of ski resorts like Hafjell and Kvitfjell, adding outdoor activities.
Overall, the market integrates well with Lillehammer’s existing cultural scene and shops, making it a standout destination during the holiday season.
Dates and Location
Maihaugen Christmas Market: 2nd to 3rd December 2023.
Lillehammer Christmas Market dates: 9th to 10th and 16th to 17th December 2023.
Opening times: 2pm to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 16th November 2023 from 5pm to 8pm.
Ice skating: Yes, at Hafjell and Kvitfjell.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Old wooden buildings as backdrop, proximity to historical Maihaugen and a white Christmas.
Food specialities: Traditional Norwegian pastries, pickled fish, smoked meats, hot mulled wine, local cheeses.
Where to stay: Aksjemøllen is a popular hotel, located 1 minute from Storgata.
Hotels near Lillehammer Christmas Market
Lillehammer is a small city, so staying anywhere in the city centre should be fine. A good option is Aksjemøllen as it’s in the very centre, near the pedestrianised street where you’ll find the shops and market stalls.
To make the most of your time in Norway during the festive season, read my Norway Christmas Markets 2023 guide, which provides a list of the best markets throughout the country.
Location of the Market
Christmas in Lillehammer
Pinnekjøtt (Stick Meat): Pinnekjøtt is a dish traditionally eaten around Christmas in Norway. It consists of ribs from lamb or mutton salted and dried. The ribs are then steamed over birch branches, which gives them a distinct flavour. You’ll find stalls serving this warming dish in Lillehammer.
Lefse: Lefse is a soft Norwegian flatbread. It’s made with potatoes, flour, and milk or cream. The market is often filled with sweet or savoury ingredients such as cinnamon sugar or simply butter.
Glogg: A traditional drink, glogg is the Norwegian version of mulled wine. Made with red wine, spices, and sometimes raisins or almonds, it’s usually served hot. Glogg stalls are ubiquitous at the Lillehammer market, where you can enjoy a cup to keep warm.
Koldtbord (Cold Table): You might come across a Koldtbord at some stalls, essentially a buffet of cold dishes. It can include smoked fish, pickled herring, and assorted cold meats. It’s a variety of snacks you can have while exploring the market. If you don’t see this at the market, ask about where to find this in a local restaurant.
Rakfisk: A fermented fish and delicacy in Norway. It’s generally made from trout and is served with flatbread and sour cream. While not to everyone’s taste, you’ll find a unique local speciality here.
Riskrem (Rice Cream): Riskrem is a popular Christmas dessert in Norway. It’s a creamy rice pudding often served with a red berry sauce. A typical festive sweet treat, stalls at the market often offer it to those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Pepperkaker (Ginger Snaps): These are Norwegian gingerbread cookies, often intricately designed. Kids especially enjoy them, and they’re prevalent around the holiday season. They add a bit of crunch to your festive snacking.
Kransekake: Kransekake is a cake made from almonds, sugar, and egg whites. It’s often built up into a tower using many concentric rings. At the market, you can find smaller portions that are easier to enjoy on the go.
Klippfisk: Klippfisk is dried and salted cod. It’s a versatile ingredient in many Norwegian dishes but can be enjoyed independently. At the market, you’ll likely find it presented in various preparations.
Svele: Svele is similar to a pancake but slightly thicker. It is commonly spread with butter and sugar or with Norwegian brown cheese. It offers a quick and satisfying snack as you stroll through the market.
Exploring these food stalls gives you an authentic taste of Norway’s culinary traditions, especially those particularly popular during Christmas.
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Håndlagde julekuler (Handmade Christmas Baubles): Unique to Lillehammer, these baubles are often crafted with meticulous attention to detail. They usually feature local motifs like snowflakes, reindeer, and Norwegian landscapes. The baubles are made of glass, wood, and even metal.
Mariusgenser (Marius Sweater): The Marius Sweater is an iconic Norwegian knitwear incorporating traditional Nordic patterns. Locally made, these jumpers often use high-quality wool and are an excellent way to keep warm during winter. Some Christmas stalls and shops in Lillehammer specialise in this particular knitwear style.
Treskulpturer (Wooden Sculptures): Artisans in Lillehammer often carve intricate sculptures from local wood. These sculptures can range from animal figures to abstract shapes and are sometimes custom-made. They provide a unique, artistic take on Norwegian culture and environment.
Rosemaling Artwork: Rosemaling is a style of Norwegian decorative painting on wood. It uses stylised flower ornamentation and scrollwork. The items with Rosemaling are also often functional, such as serving trays, chairs, or even jewellery boxes. At Lillehammer, local artisans often sell these as exclusive, hand-painted pieces.
Norwegian Books: Books that contain classic Norwegian folktales or are set in Lillehammer are good gifts for younger ones. The illustrations usually showcase the traditional Norwegian art style, making them visually appealing.
Tinn (Pewter Products): Pewter goods, ranging from brooches to tableware, are expected at the market. Made by local artisans, these items often feature classic Norwegian designs and are both decorative and functional.
Ullsokker (Wool Socks): Woollen socks are a practical and commonly sought-after item. They come in various lengths and thicknesses and are typically made from local sheep wool. Some vendors even incorporate traditional Norwegian patterns into the design.
Røkt laks (Smoked Salmon): While not a traditional Christmas gift, smoked salmon from Lillehammer is famous for its quality. The fish is often caught in nearby rivers and smoked using standard methods. It can be vacuum-sealed for travel, making it an ideal gift for food lovers.
Norsk Ost (Norwegian Cheese): Cheese made in the Lillehammer region often features unique characteristics influenced by the local climate and grazing conditions. Varieties may include brown cheese or even spiced gouda. Vendors often provide tastings, allowing you to choose based on your preference.
By exploring the Christmas stalls in Lillehammer, you can find a variety of gifts that are both functional and culturally significant. They can make great souvenirs as well as gifts.
While in the city, don’t forget to visit Visit Lillehammer, the city’s official website, where you can find a list of winter activities and the most current events.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Here’s how to be a responsible traveller in Lillehammer this Christmas.
Stay in Eco-Friendly Hotels: Lillehammer has hotels that rely on renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Booking a room at such a place directly supports local sustainability efforts.
Minimise Food Waste: At Lillehammer’s markets, vendors serve food in controlled portions. Be mindful of how much you order to avoid unnecessary waste. Some vendors even donate leftover food to local charities.
Ethical Consumption: Lillehammer’s shops often feature handcrafted goods made by local artisans. Select these over mass-produced items and buy only what you’ll use to minimise waste and promote local craftsmanship.
Sustainable Diets: Many of Lillehammer’s Christmas vendors offer locally sourced and plant-based options. Choosing these foods reduces your carbon footprint while supporting local farmers.
Use Sustainable Transport: Lillehammer is well-connected by electric buses. Taking public transport instead of hiring a petrol-powered taxi is a straightforward way to reduce your environmental impact. You could also walk to many of the city’s key attractions, as Lillehammer is relatively compact.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Lillehammer, Norway. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.