Celebrate Christmas, “Lillajul” (“Little Christmas”) or New Year in Åland, or spend a few days in the archipelago and see all the glitter and sparkle of this glorious spot in the depth of winter. Winter in Åland is not familiar to many, but there are plenty of reasons to travel here during the low season.

Christmas is a popular festival in Åland, and it’s even celebrated twice, first on “Lillajul”, on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent, and then as normal on 24 December, Christmas Eve. Lillajul is an old tradition and a popular one. It’s like the regular Christmas, but on a slightly smaller scale. The Christmas tree is smaller – just one metre tall. Christmas presents for Lillajul are smaller and the Christmas buffet has fewer dishes. 

Lillajul is also the start of Christmas celebrations generally, and when the traditional Lillajul Christmas market is on at the Jan Karlsgården open-air museum, the Christmas atmosphere really gets going. Then the whole month of December gets filled up with Christmas markets, Christmas concerts and Christmas buffets in restaurants. A visit to Åland in December is certain to bring the Christmas spirit to life.

Life on the ice

When the ice floes form, the archipelago landscape is transformed. You can make your way over the bays in a completely new way using long-distance ice skates and poles. There are regular excursions with experienced guides, and provided you have the right instructions and safety equipment, you can safely get around on the ice.

Did you know that there are boat trips out to the archipelago in the winter as well? Contact a water taxi company and you’ll have a safe boating experience tailored to your requirements. There is also the option of kayaking along the edge of the ice or ice-fishing. It’s exciting to drill a hole in the ice, jig for perch and pikeperch or set up your fishing rod and wait for the little bell to ring, telling you that a pike has taken the bait.

Would you prefer an ice rink to have fun on? Islandia in Mariehamn has free skate times, and the Olympic sport of curling is a popular group activity at the curling centre in Eckerö.

Cross-country and downhill skiing

If you enjoy skiing, at Åland’s Skiing and Biathlon Centre you can head out on the cross-country track. You can hire skis on the spot and in winters when there isn’t much snow, artificial snow is provided. Some of Åland’s golf courses also have ski trails running through them, and people who like to slalom and snowboard can enjoy some excellent winter days on the little (but fun!) Germundö Alpin hill. After a couple of hours in the crisp winter air, you mustn’t forget to have a sauna, relax when you give wilderness bathing a go, or have a dip in a hole in the ice. Count the constellations before you go to sleep – you get a really good view of them in the archipelago.

Swimming pools and cinema

The winter is high season for indoor activities, of course. Go to the cinema, disco bowling or try out a VR experience at Entax Virtual Reality. You can indulge in your choice of fun in the water at the Mariebad and Åland’s Sports Centre swimming pools, and spend time in the museums to learn more about the exciting history of Åland. The Åland Maritime Museumthe Cultural History Museum of Åland and The Åland Island Art Museum have generous opening times even during the winter season.

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