The Christmas Garden (Jólagarðurinn) is a Christmas-themed garden and gift shop located in northern Iceland–only a few minutes from Akureyri, the “Capital Of North Iceland.” It was opened May 1996 by the married couple Benedikt Grétarsson and Ragnheiður Hreiðarsdóttir.

The couple decided to build a Christmas Garden as a side-project with family and friends, but also to have something to keep up their spirits when returning home from a hard day’s work.

“It’s impossible to be in a bad mood after spending a few minutes here,” said Benedikt. “I don’t care who you are. Three minutes in here and you’ll be all smiles.”

The Christmas House is cozy in the wintertime

The Christmas Garden has grown over the years. At first, it was just a small, red house with large decorative candies on the roof. As more guests visited, Benedikt and Ragnheiður kept making additions to the house, adding a tower containing the world’s largest Advent calendar.

Next to the original house and the tower is the “Apple Hut.” The Apple Hut sells candied apples, waffles and an assortment of hot beverages. It’s the perfect snack for a cold day–in the winter or the summer!

The Christmas Garden on a nice summer day

Eventually, the original red house needed even more room, and a basement was dug out. This led to the construction of a marvelous red staircase and lot more space for christmas decorations. There’s even a cage where they keep Grýla.

In the Christmas Garden, they’ve added whole new lifestyle and gourmet store called Bakgarður Tante Grethe or “Aunt Gretzel’s Backyard.” The store features curated products from local produces such as jam, honey, biscuits and woolen blankets.

Aunt Gretzel’s Backyard

Make sure to check it out if you’re driving between Reykjavík and Akureyri. Like Benedikt said, in three minutes you’ll be “all smiles.”