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Jul – Christmas

Live advent calendar in Gamla Stan

Posted in Stockholm E by
Levande julkalender

One of the nicest advent calendars I know of is Gamla Stan’s real live advent calendar. Levande julkalendern is a lively advent calendar where a shutter opens every evening at one of the houses in Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

The spectators are treated to 15 minutes of culture. Poems are recited, stories read aloud, music is played and sung and there sometimes is some dancing. The stories and performances of Levande julkalendern always have a link with Christmas and / or with Gamla Stan. It is quite small-scale, although the last times I went there I found that more and more people attended it.

Levande julkalender Stockholm

Good to know: it’s all in Swedish. Yet you can drop by to soak up the atmosphere if you don’t understand Swedish. The first time I attended Levande julkalendern it was in a courtyard. There was a choir that sang Tänd ett ljus and they (exceptionally) also handed out glögg and pepparkakor. A very nice moment and even my travel partner then, who doesn’t understand Swedish still speaks about!

Levande julkalendern practical information

Levande julkalendern went digital in 2020. They collected pieces from the archive from 2005 to 2019. This year, in 2021, they will perform live again.

During the Advent from December 1 to December 24, every day at 6:15 pm, somewhere in Gamla Stan a shutter, window or door will open on a square or in one of the many narrow alleys. You can find the exact location on the Mäster Olofsgården site. Please note: On December 24, the shutter will already open in the morning.

Tip: just before you go to the advent calendar, go and buy a pepparkakslatte at Bröd & Salt to make it extra cozy (and to keep you warm during the cold evenings).

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Levande julkalendern Stockholm
24 December 2020

Gingerbread houses exhibition in ArkDes

Posted in Stockholm E by
Pepparkakshus ArkDes

When I’m in Stockholm in December (or early January), I always try to the exhibition Pepparkakshus or gingerbread houses in ArkDes (Swedish Center for Architecture and Design), next to/in Moderna Museet on Skeppsholmen. It is really amazing what ingenious constructions they can make with pepparkakor as a base (and other sweets).


There is a real competition attached to the Pepparkakshus exhibition in ArkDes. There are different categories ranging from children to professional bakers. About 100 to 200 gingerbread houses are sent in every year.

Exhibition Pepparkakshus 2016

In 2016 the theme was “Hemligheter” or “Secrets”.

Exhibition Pepparkakshus 2019

The theme in 2019 was “Hot”. You saw many allusions to global warming with a Greta Thunberg as the showpiece. The fire in Notre-Dame in Paris was also given a gingerbread version. Personally, I was also very fond of the fire truck, especially when you know that the designer was younger than 12! And I also really liked the kakelugn (if I ever buy a house in Sweden, it must be one with such a tiled stove).

Digital exhibition 2020

In 2020 Pepparkakshus was celebrating its 30th birthday. Unfortunately one without a big party. Like many things in 2020, the gingerbread house exhibition could not take place live in ArkDes, but you could admire the gingerbread houses in 3D on the ArkDes site. The theme was, how appropriate, Avstånd or Distance.

In 2021, the gingerbread houses are back. The exhibition runs from November 26, 2021 to January 9, 2022. The theme this year is: Tilsammans (Swedish for ‘together’).

Pepparkakshus exhibition practical information

The gingerbread houses exhibition is accessible free of charge. Pepparkakshus normally runs from the beginning of Advent to the end of the Christmas holidays. ArkDes is closed on Mondays.

ArkDes is located on Skeppsholmen. You can take the bus. There is a stop close to Moderna Museet. I usually walk over there. The bridges to Skeppsholmen offer a beautiful view of Gamla Stan on one side and Östermalm / Djurgården on the other. It is a 5-minute walk from Kungsträdgården.

Address: Exercisplan 4, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm

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24 December 2020

Swedish recipe for glögg

Posted in Swedish Food by
Recept glögg

Warming up after a winter walk with a cup of a hot drink, it is literally heartwarming. In winter this warm drink can be glögg (the Swedish version of mulled wine) in Sweden. You can buy that glögg ready-made or you can make it yourself with this easy recipe for glögg.

I really don’t like glühwein, but I won’t say no to glögg. Some think that these are the same but I think there is a big difference in taste. And of course the glögg also includes pepparkakor!

Recipe glögg

There are many different recipes for glögg. Do you prefer a certain herb or not? Then experiment by taking it out, reducing or increasing the amount. Replace the cane sugar with dark brown sugar. Add cardamom or honey. Or cook orange peel with it. Plenty of variations!

If you would like it a bit more alcoholic, add a good splash of cognac, orange liqueur, port or rum and create your own recipe for glögg.

Ingredients for Swedish mulled wine

  • 75 cl red wine
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of cane sugar
  • 50 grams of almonds
  • 50 grams of raisins
  • 20 cl freshly squeezed orange juice (you can also replace this with apple juice)
  • slices of 2 oranges (you can also replace this with apples)

How to make glögg

The recipe for glögg is really simple. Pour all ingredients in a large pot (except the orange slices, raisins and almonds) and boil it. Let it cool down. Ideally, you make the glögg a day in advance so all ingredients can take and give all the flavours.

Just before you want to serve the glögg, heat it up again until it boils. Strain the mixture and divide between the heat-resistant glasses. Finish the glögg with orange slices, almonds or almond slices and raisins. Serve with pepparkakor. Cheers!

P.S. You can also serve the orange slices, the almonds and the raisins on a small bowl, so everyone can add it according to their own taste.

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22 December 2020