Midsummer is one of the most important holidays in the Swedish calendar, second only to Christmas. On this day, Swedes eat smoked salmon and herring, and drink Aquavit, or “snaps”.
There is an age-old tradition of food and drink that goes hand in hand with the Swedish midsummer festivities. When it comes to drinking “snaps”, there are countless varieties and flavours. What is important is that whenever dill or caraway are used, it becomes Aquavit – which is a legally protected appellation in Europe. Other popular flavours include elderflower, honey and wormwood.
Smoked salmon, pickled herring and gravlax
The midsummer celebrations, which often continue well into the night and even the next morning, also feature classic Swedish delicacies such as smoked salmon, different kinds of pickled herring, as well as grilled meat, gravlax, and strawberry cake for dessert. People wear wreaths of flowers in their hair and families dance, sing, and jump like frogs around a maypole. Never say Swedes don’t know how to throw a party!
The following are some of the best places to experience a true Swedish midsummer:
Midsummer in Tällberg, Dalarna
With its stunning backdrop of snow-peaked mountains and Lake Siljan glimmering in the sunlight, Tällberg, in Dalarna in central Sweden, is widely considered to be the best place to celebrate midsummer. Although the town itself only has a population of about 200, every year some 20,000 people congregate at Klockargården, a complex of red-painted houses dating back to the 1400s, where the summer solstice is celebrated in true Swedish fashion.
Midsummer in and around Stockholm
While the best midsummer celebrations usually take place in the countryside or by the sea, there are some options available for people who happen to find themselves in Stockholm on Midsummer’s Eve. Check out the midsummer festival at Skansen, or why not hop on a ferry to the island of Sandhamn? Other alternatives include the festivities at Djursholm Castle, in the village of Sigtuna or by the island fortress at Waxholm.
Midsummer at Riksgränsen
What could be better than celebrating midsummer in the northernmost part of Sweden where the sun never sets at this time of year? Head on up to Riksgränsen, where the Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish borders meet. Take the opportunity to experience 24 hours of non-stop daylight and dance around a maypole in your ski boots.