The latest selection of inspirational new holiday ideas and travel news from Gothenburg and West Sweden – including festive holidays across the region and a new initiative which allows visitors to sample homestays with Swedes living locally.
Gothenburg the Christmas city
Feel festivity levels soar with a winter break in Gothenburg, only a short two-hour flight from London. Mixing a warm sense of tradition with contemporary Swedish design, highlights of Gothenburg the Christmas City include…
Scandinavia’s biggest Christmas market
One of the city’s festive highlights is Liseberg Amusement Park’s traditional Christmas market, decorated with five million twinkling lights and some 700 Christmas trees. It features 80 rustic market stalls selling arts and crafts, as well as seasonal foods such as traditional Swedish marinated herring, roasted reindeer served by Sami reindeer herders from Lapland, marzipan pigs and traditional mulled and spiced wine, known as glögg. New this year is the Traditional Christmas area, offering visitors a chance to see how the festivities were celebrated from the 1930s to the 1940s, and a new 10,000-square-metre Rabbit Land playground. It is open every weekend from 15 November and every day from 5 to 29 December, with entry costing £9 pp.
The Lane of Light
Walk the unique 3 km illuminated trail through the heart of Gothenburg (from 6 December to 5 January). Set off on a magical meander from the central harbour all the way to Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas market. Combining innovative lighting design with a love of Christmas the old-fashioned way, the city architects and light designers have created this year’s Lane of Light around the theme of dreams. If you don’t fancy walking, Ringlinien vintage trams transport visitors from Drottningtorget, near the city’s central station, to Liseberg Amusement Park, too.
The tradition of St Lucia
Witness a delightful, candle-lit Swedish national tradition: every year (12 and 13 December), towns and cities across Sweden hold Lucia concerts. Gothenburg’s chosen Lucia (Queen of Light) is duly crowned with a halo of candles, and her coronation is marked by a majestic concert held in candle-lit churches across the city, including the incredibly atmospheric Vasa Church. Choral pieces sung by the Lucia troupe of seven girls bring divine enchantment to the packed churches and tears to the eyes of those enjoying the spectacle.
Dazzling light and sound display
Witness a gigantic visual display of colour at Götaplatsen culture square (from 6 December), where a specially-produced Christmas film is projected on to the facades of the surrounding buildings. Be warned, once you start watching this, you won’t be able to stop; it’s truly a treat for the eyes.
Gothenburg the Christmas City sample packages:
Three nights’ B&B Hotel Vanilla, set in the heart of Gothenburg, costs from £475 pp (two sharing), including 24 hour Gothenburg City Card (which which includes free public transport and access to many attractions, including Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas Market), guide notes and flights (London). Breakfast is enjoyed at Kafé Vanilj on the ground floor of the hotel – one of the city’s most popular cafés thanks to its giant cinnamon rolls and home-made apple pies! To book this trip, call Inntravel on 01653 617006 (www.inntravel.co.uk).
Three nights’ B&B at the Clarion Hotel Post, return Club Europe flights with British Airways, 48 hour Gothenburg City Card (which includes free public transport and access to many attractions, including Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas Market) costs from £630 pp (two sharing).Valid for travel from 15 Nov to 23 Dec and 26 to 29 Dec 2013. To book this trip, call Wexas Travel on 020 7590 0618 (www.wexas.com).
Gothenburg and West Sweden Christmas packages
Christmas fun in West Sweden isn’t limited to Gothenburg. Beyond Sweden’s second city awaits the majestic winter wilderness of the Bohuslän west coast and Dalsland lake district, all easily accessible from Gothenburg (up to a maximum 90 minute drive north).
Relax in cosy, candle-lit accommodation, tuck into a traditional ‘Julbord’ Swedish Christmas buffet, wander rustic Christmas markets and wrap up warm to indulge in some adventurous and energetic outdoor winter activities, such as snow-shoeing or exhilarating walks.
There is an array of festive breaks on offer in the region, including these holidays that mix a city break with the Swedish countryside or coast…
Gothenburg Christmas markets with an outdoor activity twist – NEW
Combine Gothenburg the Christmas city with outdoor winter adventure around the thick forests and sparkling lakes of Dalsland. Take in all that festive Gothenburg has to offer and then enjoy a full-day excursion to Dalsland to take part in activities such as ice-skating, snow-shoeing or ice-fishing and to tuck into the finest local cuisine. The trip costs from £599 pp (two sharing) including two nights’ B&B at the five-star Elite Plaza Hotel and a day’s excursion to Dalsland, with two winter activities, lunch and a traditional Christmas Smörgåsbord dinner. Flights extra. Call Off The Map Travel on 0800 566 8901 (www.offthemaptravel.co.uk).
Gothenburg and the magical archipelago
Spend a winter break in Gothenburg and the unspoiled Bohuslän region – an archipelago of 8,000 islands and many quaint fishing villages. Stay at the Elite Plaza Hotel in Gothenburg for two nights and journey 45 minutes north to the peaceful coastal setting of Ljungskile for an extra evening at the incredibly charming traditional guesthouse, Villa Sjotorp. Guests will enjoy an eight-course dinner at its Taste of West Sweden-accredited restaurant and the dreamiest view of the archipelago. The trip costs from £771 pp (two sharing) including three nights’ B&B, eight-course dinner at Villa Sjotorp, airport transfers, two days’ car hire and flights (London). Call Sunvil Discovery on 020 8758 4722 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Meet the locals with a Swedish homestay – NEW
Visitors to West Sweden are now able to enjoy a truly authentic experience in the region thanks to the new website www.meettheswedes.com. This initiative enables Swedes living locally to hire out accommodation to visitors, including their spare rooms, summer houses, apartments and cottages. It’s an enriching and very affordable way for visitors to fully immerse themselves in the enviable Swedish lifestyle and benefit from in-depth local knowledge about what’s good to see and do in the region. It’s possible to browse local home stay options based on an array of activities on offer, including foraging for strawberries or mushrooms, guided nature walks, kayaking trips, seal safaris and sailing.
World Travel Market 2013, ExCel London (4-7 November)
West Sweden Tourist Board will once again exhibit on Visit Sweden’s stand at World Travel Market (stand number EM140c). To arrange a meeting, please contact Linda Sturk on firstname.lastname@example.org
For an insider’s guide to events and experiences in West Sweden, follow the latest blogs at www.explorewestsweden.com.
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