In the middle of June in Stockholm the hours of darkness last for only 2 or 3 hours – in fact it never really gets completely dark during the few weeks of midsummer. Apart from Christmas, Midsummer or “Midsommar” is the most important holiday in the Swedish calendar. The Midsummer Festival can vary from year to year between 19th and 25th June as it is always celebrated on a Friday. This year the main celebrations will take place on 20th June.
Swedes do like a party but for most of the year their celebrations can be rather sedate. At midsummer they tend to throw caution to the wind for a weekend of drinking, singing and celebration. If you’re in Stockholm for the midsummer weekend you may find the streets surprisingly quiet because many city dwellers leave the city for a break in the country or on one of the islands, where some people still slip into traditional costume. However, if you’re in the city centre and looking to party, one place to head for is Skansen, Stockholm’s huge open-air museum, which comes alive with music and traditional celebrations. You can help the Skansen folk dance team decorate and put up the flower-covered maypole. At Skansen you can meet people in the distinctive dress of Sweden’s many regions (long pinafore dresses for women and knee-britches and white stockings for men ). Skansen is also a great place for a picnic, which is fortunate because many of the city’s shops and restaurants are closed over the holiday weekend.
The traditional Swedish food that is eaten on Midsummer Eve is pickled herring and boiled new potatoes served with chives and sour cream boiled eggs and a green salad. It is also traditional to drink beer and schnapps. Swedes will even eat herring in cakes, casseroles and pies as well as in salads and starters!
In the centre of Stockholm itself there is usually a line-up of Swedish bands in parks such as Kungstradgarden, and stalls and entertainment along the waterfront opposite the RoyalPalace.
Stockholm is a wonderful place to visit during the white nights of midsummer, and a particularly exciting city during the Festival of Midsommar when it certainly is party time!