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Snow Covered Copenhagen

by Alex Berger on December 11, 2012

Snow Covered Copenhagen

How do you take a picturesque city with beautifully colored buildings, elegant canals, and wide pedestrian streets and make it even more picture perfect?   You add snow.  At least, that seems to be the approach Copenhagen takes a couple of times a year.   Despite its northern location, Copenhagen’s close proximity to the sea and placement along the Gulf Stream keeps it surprisingly warm and snow free for most of the year.   Over the last week, however, a cold spell hit the country dumping more than 20cm of snow across parts of Denmark.  While it also meant that temperatures plunged below 0 Celsius, the result has been worth it!

Eager to enjoy the city before the snow melted or got too dirty, I bundled up and headed out into the cold to capture these photos and shoot the above video.  As I walked the city center the snow periodically alternated between large light snowflakes and small slow-falling flakes that were few and far between.  Combined with the colors of the streets, the warm yellow glow of the street lamps, and the overhead lighting of the holiday lights that decorate many of the larger pedestrian streets, the snow left me feeling as though I’d been transported into a magical snow-globe. Pinch me, I am really here.

Snow Covered Copenhagen

Despite the cold I still found the streets crowed with tourists wandering the city and locals out doing their shopping. A few of the buskers had suited up and decided to brave the cold, casting the haunting notes of clarinet, accordion, and violin drifting across streets that date back to the 1400s and 1500s. In other areas the rich smells of freshly made crepes (pancakes as the Danes call them) and caramelized almonds offer a feast for the senses that leave passerby’s stomachs rumbling.

Snow Covered Copenhagen

Despite the snow and black ice most Danes still bundle up, layer on their scarves, and then hop on their bikes. It’s an amazing sight to see and definitely more than a little inspiring. I guess it makes sense, if I’m silly enough to enjoy walking around in the snow, biking in it isn’t all that different…right?

Piled Bikes in Snow

Still, not everyone is up for a snowy bike ride home, especially after a night out at the bars, which contributes no doubt to the piles of snow-covered bikes that line the city’s streets. This dogpile was especially messy. Apparently a few bikes had been double-parked during the weekend and then fallen over, knocking the others into a giant confused and snow-covered jumble.

Copenhagen Christmas Market

Copenhagen takes its holiday decorations seriously and has beautiful heart-shaped lights that hang over most of the larger streets. It also has a collection of wonderful Christmas markets. The one located near Christiansborg Slot at Amagertorv is one of my favorites! You can also find other markets in nearby squares and along Nyhavn.

Copenhagen Christmas Market

The market stalls in Amagertorv are solidly built, have beautiful facades, and a wonderful traditional holiday feel to them. They’re a mixture of random goods, warm-weather gear, food, and of course, Gløgg/Mulled Wine.

Copenhagen Christmas Market

I found Danes and tourists alike huddled together, hands wrapped around smoking cups of Gløgg, eying hot dogs and other delicious meats as they cooked in nearby stalls on circular suspended grills.

Copenhagen Christmas Market

The market even boasted a tiny Santa ride for little kids. Little more than a giant train set, the ride made a very tight circle around the Christmas Market’s central Christmas tree. What the ride lacked in size, it made up for with ornately decorated cars and a vibrantly decorated tree.

Snow Covered Roses

Another thing that always surprises me is the flower stalls. Despite the cold weather, there are several small street stands that stay open year round. In the photo above you can see the wide variety of roses and flowers they offer, all beautifully covered by a soft layer of snow.

Snow and Flowers in Copenhagen

Beyond cut flowers, they also offer live flowers waiting to be planted. Perfect holiday gifts which are somehow perfectly resistant to the cold weather and damp kiss of half-frozen snow.

Danish Bakery

I finished my stroll with a quick walk past a traditional Danish bakery with its windows full of stacked fresh bread, deserts and delicious Danish treats.

Danish Bakery

Cold, and ready to retreat back to the warmth of my apartment, I found myself playfully walking through the snow…a light near-skip to my step. There’s something about Copenhagen that always leaves me charmed. The more time I spend here, the more I fall in love. It is an amazing place and an incredible feeling. If you get the chance, don’t just assume that Copenhagen is a summer city. It has a lot to offer no matter what time of year it is!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy @My Turkish Joys December 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thanks for sharing your lovely photos! I’d love a cup of Gløgg right now too, but not sure about biking in the snow.
Joy @My Turkish Joys recently posted..Christmas in Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood

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Alex Berger December 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

Haha, agreed. I tend to spend far more time consuming Gløgg than biking in the snow…perhaps the two are related!

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Dan December 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Great photos! Why didn’t you go get a treat from the bakery on the way back home? Looks delicious! I couldn’t get the video to work above. Can you send me the link to it?

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Alex Berger December 14, 2012 at 5:09 am

They were actually closed by the time I headed back to the apartment. It would have been a good idea though!

Video should be fixed. After the latest youtube re-design they mucked up a whole bunch of things with the embed code. Let me know if you have any issues!

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Annie André December 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Lovely lovely photos. I have to ask though, are you using a tripod for the night shots? They are so crisp clear and bright…

I’ll have to take photos of the christmas market here in our town in France this week. No snow:( but lot’s of chachkis…
Annie André recently posted..How Much Does It Cost To Live In France For 1 Year? (Personal Experience)

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Alex Berger December 18, 2012 at 11:52 am

For these night shots – yep! It depends on the shot though. When I have the tripod I’ll definitely use it, but I can be found balancing my camera just as often.

That sounds like a great photo opportunity! Got a link?

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