Today is National Sweden Day: 5 top tips on how to celebrate like a true Swede

On 6 June Swedes celebrate the National Day in honor of two historical events: Gustav Vasa being elected king (1523) and the new constitution (1809). Since 2005, it is a public holiday. As summer approaches, anticipation builds for one of Sweden‘s most beloved traditions: Midsummer.

This vibrant festival, second only to Christmas in its importance, marks the start of the summer season and takes place on a Friday between June 19 and 25. In 2024, Midsummer Eve – the longest day of the year, falls on June 21, and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in Swedish culture than by joining the festivities.

Why Dalarna is the place to be

Over the Midsummer weekend, Swedish cities are usually quiet as most local people head off to the countryside and celebrate the Midsummer holiday with their families and friends. No one and no place in Sweden celebrates Midsummer quite like Dalarna in central Sweden. When you picture quintessential images of Sweden – charming, brightly painted wooden horses, red cottages with white gables, and people dancing around the Midsummer maypole – they all originate from Dalarna.

Explore more celebrations across Sweden

While Dalarna offers the most traditional experience, Midsummer is celebrated throughout Sweden, here is a list of ten locations, each adding its unique charm:

Leksand, Dalarna

Leksand in Dalarna hosts the world’s largest Midsummer celebration, attracting close to 30,000 visitors annually. Experience the heart of Swedish tradition at Gropen in Leksand, where the community gathers for an unforgettable celebration of joy and cultural heritage. Fiddlers, folk dancers, choirs, and Sweden’s tallest maypole are gathered for the classic ring dance.

Rättvik, Dalarna

Rättvik’s fantastic Midsummer festival attracts many visitors each year. The celebration kicks off with a parade featuring horses, flags, garlands, folk musicians, and decorated wagons. Highlights include raising the maypole, folk music, speeches, and, most importantly, dancing and games around the pole.

Gothenburg archipelago

Experience Midsummer among the beautiful archipelago islands and sparkling seas. Several islands in the Gothenburg archipelago host Midsummer festivities. Don’t miss the fun on Björkö, Vrångö and others.

Gunnebo House and Gardens, Gothenburg

Midsummer Eve is traditionally celebrated at Gunnebo House and Gardens, one of the Gothenburg region’s most popular Midsummer events. Throughout the day, enjoy ring dances and dance performances.

Slottsskogen, Gothenburg

In Gothenburg’s Slottsskogen park, experience a vibrant Midsummer festival complete with traditional dancing, games, and a lively atmosphere perfect for families and solo travelers alike.

Visby, Gotland

In Visby on Gotland, Midsummer is celebrated with a true folk festival. Enjoy entertainment, sing-alongs with a traditional Gotland accordion band, dancing around the maypole, and even horse-drawn carriage rides. It’s a lively and authentic celebration that captures the spirit of Swedish Midsummer.

Sofiero Palace, Helsingborg

Sofiero Palace in Helsingborg hosts a traditional Midsummer gathering in a blooming setting. Enjoy singing and dancing around the maypole, games for the whole family, and a delightful royal atmosphere.

Stockholm archipelago

What could be more idyllic than celebrating Midsummer in Stockholm’s beautiful archipelago? You can choose from various festivities arranged on the islands. Fjäderholmarna, Grinda, Vaxholm, and Sandhamn all host classic gatherings, each offering a unique charm.

Skansen, Stockholm

Join the festivities at Skansen in Stockholm, where you can enjoy traditional Midsummer celebrations in an open-air museum setting. Dance, music, and cultural displays ideally introduce Swedish heritage.

Riksgränsen, Swedish Lapland

For a unique twist, celebrate Midsummer on skis in Riksgränsen. Traditionally open during the Midsummer weekend, weather permitting, Riksgränsen offers fantastic skiing opportunities under the midnight sun.

Swedish Midsummer in New York

If you can’t make it to Sweden, join the largest official Midsummer celebration outside of Sweden in New York City. On June 21st, 5-9 PM, Rockefeller Park in downtown Manhattan will host the annual Swedish Midsummer Festival, presented by the Consulate General of Sweden, New York, and Battery Park City Authority. Enjoy traditional music, dancing, and the chance to make your floral wreaths from flowers representing those in bloom on the solstice in Sweden and indulge in delicious Swedish treats from a variety of vendors present at the festival.

5 tips on how to celebrate Midsummer like a true Swede

Dance around the maypole: Join cheerful Swedes in the traditional dances around the decorated maypole, a central part of any Midsummer celebration. Make sure you join the “Små Grodorna” (The Little Frogs) dance and hop away from all worries.

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Sing traditional songs: Join in singing Swedish songs, often accompanied by accordion music.

Wear a flower wreath: Craft a floral wreath, a beautiful and essential accessory for the festivities. Pick seven types of flowers and place them under your pillow to dream of your future spouse.

Enjoy a traditional feast: Savor a typical Midsummer menu with different kinds of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream, and chives, and for dessert strawberries with cream. The traditional accompaniment is cold beer and schnapps, preferably spiced. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out anew.

Stay up for the midnight sun: Experience the magic of the long, bright nights by staying up to enjoy the light of the midnight sun.

    The origins

    In agrarian times, Midsummer celebrations in Sweden were held to welcome summertime and the season of fertility. It was not until the 1900s, that this became the most Swedish of all traditional festivities. Midsummer Night, one of the lightest of the year, was considered a magical night, as it was the best time for telling people’s futures. Also, that night, it was said, that water was turned into wine and ferns into flowers. Many plants acquired healing powers on that one night of the year.

    How to get there from North America?

    During the summer of 2024, Stockholm Arlanda Airport will have non-stop connections between Stockholm Arlanda Airport and New York (EWR and JFK), Montreal, and Toronto.

    In addition to Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) daily service from New York, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines serves New York several times a week. Air Canada will operate routes to Toronto and Montreal (starting June 12 and 14 respectively) in addition to the routes already served by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) to Toronto.

    Paul Johnson

    Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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