Today, visitors to Bishop Hill can skip all that hardship but still get a taste of what Christmas was like in Sweden years ago by visiting the restored buildings, enjoying handmade crafts and the old-fashioned celebrations of Julmarknad (Christmas Market) and Lucia Nights.

Sample Swedish traditions, decorations, folk characters, children’s activities, and Christmas gifts for sale at the Julmarknad from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the weekends of Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 2-3.
The first weekend features a Cookie Walk and the second weekend a Chocolate Walk. During the Christmas Market, children dress up and portray Swedish elves called tomten. These mischievous wee folk roam through town, looking through windows and peeking around corners in their red and grey outfits. Guests will also enjoy the Julbock, the Christmas Goat, a trickster from Scandinavian lore who entertains young and old with its antics.

Lucia Nights
Bishop Hill also celebrates its Swedish heritage with Lucia Nights, the Festival of Lights on December 8-9 from 6-9 p.m.
This Swedish tradition is based on a legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light. During a famine in Sweden, on the longest and darkest night of the year, Lucia appeared wearing a long white robe and a crown of candles. Legend has it that Lucia appeared on a ship laden with food. When the ship was unloaded, both it and Lucia vanished.
Girls today wake their families on December 13 carrying a tray of Lucia buns while dressed in a white robe and wearing a crown of candles. For Lucia Nights, young girls in Bishop Hill wear crowns of candles and serve sweets to visitors in museums and shops throughout the village. Each building has a single candle in each window, and sidewalks are lined with luminaries. Shops are opened and filled with special gifts for sale. Free music is performed at several locations in the historic village.
What better place to experience old fashioned Christmas celebrations than 1846 Bishop Hill, IL? Bishop Hill is 150 miles southwest of Chicago and 20 miles east of I-74 in Henry County.

For more information about Christmas celebrations in or the history of Bishop Hill, call 309.927.3899 or visit