Last Christmas I was invited to spend a few days in Gothenburg, and join in with the annual Lucia and Christmas celebrations.

The Lucia tradition is an important event is the Swedish calendar as it marks the being of Christmas their festivities.

Each year Gothenburg chooses a new Lucia (Queen of Light), during a candlelit concert at the Vasa Church. In the hushed atmosphere of the church, the audience (including myself) were treated to a number of traditional carols, sung by a choir, comprised of past and present Lucia’s.

In addition, to choosing a new Lucia, there were plenty other events takingplace over the weekend. On the morning following the concert, our party took a gentle walk to the Haga old quarter of the city where we strolled through the Christmas market. Many stalls were offering home made and locally produced goods, as well as traditional food and drink to warm passing customers. We enjoyed a hot glass of ‘Glögg’ (mulled wine with no alcohol) before having ‘fika’ (coffee and cake) at the nearby Café Husaren.

Late in the afternoon, we walked along the Lane of Light (Christmas lighting that stretches from the harbour to Lisberg Park) to watch the various open air performances including the Singing Christmas Tree – traditional choirs performing in the shape of a fir tree.

In the evening we took the short walk from our hotel to Lisberg Amusement Park, Scandinavia’s largest Christmas market. This features over 80 market stalls and shops selling arts and crafts and festive food. In addition, the park has an ice bar made entirely of blue ice, ice ring and themed rides.

This fascinating day was capped off by a gourmet dinner at Basement, one of the five Michelin starred restaurants in the city.

On our last day we took a short journey to the south of Gothenburg to visit Gunnebo House and gardens. This elegant 18th century house, one of Sweden’s most beautiful neo-classical houses, boasts extensive grounds for visitors to explore.

After lunch our party travelled north of Gothenberg to Ljungskile, and the Villa Sjötorp where we were invited to stay the night. Just 45 minutes from Gothenburg the Villa Sjötorp is a charming early 20th century summer residence that has been turned onto a delightful country hotel. In addition, to the comfortable rooms, Villa Sjötorp enjoys uninterrupted views across the waters of Ljungskile bay. In compliment to this beautiful setting the hotel has also earned a reputation for its’ excellent restaurant.

During the festive season the hotel offers ‘Christmas Packages’, which include a short break at the hotel and an inspired Christmas menu. Indeed, the highlight of the trip was the 7-course candle lit gourmet dinner. The seasonal menu made from locally sourced produce and complimented by specially selected wines was a gastronomic delight and brought an enjoyable end to memorable trip the West Coast of Sweden.

Will Rist

Key dates for 2010:

  • 12 November: The 3km long Christmas lights, leading from the port to Liseberg, are turned on.
  • 28 November: The first Sunday of Advent
  • 13 December: Marks the beginning of the great, festive programme in the town
  • 13 December: Gothenburg’s Lucia will be presented to the city, a torch procession and concerts take place.

Liseberg Christmas Market is the perfect solution for getting into the Christmas spirit: a traditional Christmas market, heaving Christmas buffet, ice-rink and sing-along. There is also a whole range of winter rides for the brave.

Besides Sweden’s biggest Christmas market at Liseberg there are also traditional markets in the old city hall (Kronhuset), in Haga and at Gustav Adolf square with the wonderful aromas of Christmas and lots of handicrafts and unusual Christmas gifts.

Villa Sjötorp Christmas Package:Will enjoyed a 7-course evening meal at Villa Sjötorp during his stay on the West Coast. This year’s mouthwatering menu is below. Please do not hesitate to telephone us for a quotation.

To accompany the homemade mulled wine, gingerbread will be served
Delicately pickled herring, topped with whitefish roe from Lake Vänern
Carefully chosen by Maria and Gunnar, Björröd
West Coast Seafood consommé served with dill ravioli
Sausage seasoned with marjoram served with a braised chicken liver terrine and creamy kale
Grilled salmon from Håverud served on a bed of creamy potatoes
Roasted meatballs made with venision from the Munkedal Forest, coated with a special mustard sauce. Served with a red onion marmalade and a cinnamon and cardamom gravy
Local cheese from West Sweden accompanied by a fig, raisin and date compote
The last pears of the season have been gently cooked in golden saffron encircled by caramelised walnuts and topped with a homemade curd
Marzipan piglets, chocolate/mint sweets, and a chocolate box filled with fruit and berry-flavoured truffles…..