On December 13, Swedish people dress up in white and head out early in the morning to celebrate Saint Lucia of Syracuse (also known as Saint Lucy). During the celebration, there is always one girl dressed in a white dress with a wreath of candles on her head. This is Lucia herself. The celebrations take place in churches, homes and workplaces and are extremely popular thanks to the beautiful songs and atmosphere.

But why do Swedes celebrate a Catholic saint with such enthusiasm (apparently regardless of Christian faith)? One explanation might be that the celebrations are in fact inspired by old (and often wild) festivities that used to be held to celebrate the winter solstice. These festivities could be quite burlesque – containing schnapps, crossdressing and animals that could speak (!).

Lucia concerts are very popular in Sweden and the tickets usually sell out quickly. Credit: Dick Gillberg/Gothenburg & Co Credit: Peter Kvarnström

When it’s in season, you can see a selection of the city’s Lucia celebrations and Christmas concerts in churches and other places below. In our event calendar you will find more atmospheric concerts throughout the year.