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Experience the traditional Swedish Midsummer Festival

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If you want to party like a Swede join the biggest celebration of the year: the Midsummer festival. The summer solstice is celebrated with families and friends reunited for one weekend enjoying the nice weather, drinking, eating, singing, and dancing.

The start of summer holidays

Swedes like to flow with the rhythms of nature. At Midsummer, many begin their five-week annual holidays and everyone is in a hurry to get things done during the relatively short summer season. Midsummer Eve draws people out of town to celebrate in the countryside. Everything closes and the city streets are suddenly deserted.

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A brief of history

Midsummer is primarily a pagan festival that has stood the test of time. Communities across the country still decorate the midsommarstänger, or maypoles, for people to sing and dance around. There is also a lovely tradition where, girls and young women pick seven different species of flower and lay them under their pillows. At night, their future husbands should appear to them in their dreams.

Celebrations in Sweden take place on the day known as midsommarafton – that is, Midsummer’s Eve. Until the 1950s this meant the 23rd June, but nowadays Midsummer is always celebrated on a Friday, to help fit in better with the working week. This year the midsummer will be celebrated Friday 24th June.

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Midsummer food and drink

The other part of the traditional Swedish Midsummer celebration involves eating and drinking copious amounts, ideally outside. A typical Midsummer menu features different kinds of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives. This is often followed by a grilled dish of some kind, such as spare rib or salmon, and for dessert the first strawberries of summer, with cream. The traditional accompaniment is a cold beer and schnapps, preferably spiced.  Every time the glasses are refilled, this prompts more singing.

The best places to celebrate Midsummer

The best way to experience Midsummer is with a group of Swedes. Unless you’re lucky enough to have been invited to dinner with some Swedish friends, your best bet is to head to one of the public gatherings which are held in parks and town squares around the country. These tend to kick off fairly early on Midsummer’s Eve – aim to get there for around midday.

If you don’t have an invitation to a Midsummer party and want more of a solid plan, many hotels organise celebrations, and the Skansen open air museum in Stockholm also holds events.  But as much as possible avoid celebrating in the big cities, it is an outdoor activity that is very closely linked to nature.  Dalarna and lake Siljan is by many regarded as the hub of traditional Midsummer celebrations.

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But there is also so much more to see in Sweden: Walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp. The country is bountiful with natural wonders like Swedish Lapland, mountains, coastlines and archipelagoes.  So if you love the outdoors, you should definitely consider a summer holiday in Sweden and enjoy the sights, sounds and the days that stretch on and on.

Speak to one of the travel consultants at Bianchi travel and let them put together the perfect itinerary for your amazing trip to Sweden.

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