Maypole dancing, crayfish parties and plenty of schnapps: how to enjoy summer like the Swedes
Celebrating midsummer in Sweden (Shutterstock)
Sweden’s beautiful west coast is at its most vibrant during the approach of summer solstice. After the chilly winter months, people are itching to make the most of the lengthening days, culminating in one of the most traditional Swedish celebrations – Midsummer’s Eve (on Friday 19 June in 2015).
During Midsummer, maypoles are raised in villages throughout West Sweden and everyone tucks into a traditional feast, including pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream, red onion, fresh strawberries and plenty of schnapps!
Cottage by the West Sweden coast (Shutterstock)
West Sweden is blessed with a coastline crammed with idyllic islands; in fact, there are no fewer than 8,000 islands along the coast between Gothenburg and the Norwegian border. There is a wealth of traditional fishing villages, rocky landscapes, nature reserves, inlets for swimming, picnic spots, seafood restaurants and attractive hotels and cottages to explore.
Swedish crayfish (Shutterstock)
Crayfish parties are one of Sweden's most fabulous traditions, where Swedes celebrate the summer that’s almost past. They are usually rather private events... until now. Join in the crayfish celebrations at Väderöarnas guesthouse on the Weather Islands – West Sweden’s most westerly, windy and warm islands.
Its party gives guests the chance to catch seafood delicacies fresh from the ocean before a big crayfish feast is cooked up in a beautifully-decorated boathouse, accompanied by schnapps, party hats and traditional drinking songs.
Canoes on the sea (Shutterstock)
Sweden’s biggest Lake District is an awe-inspiring setting for paddling – with its labyrinth of glittering rivers and deep forest perimeters, it provides the perfect location for watersports. The water is so pure that you can drink it and, after the challenge of the Dalsland Canoe Marathon, gulping fresh, clean lake water is probably essential!
Sweden’s largest canoe event starts on 8 August, and competitors have to complete the 55km route in three days. Alternatively, enjoy the stunning waterways at your own leisurely pace in the Open Water category.
Watching the sun set on Bohuslän (Shutterstock)
Walking in West Sweden is an absolute treat for lovers of enchanting natural beauty, wildlife and peaceful, friendly villages. There are many well-marked trails, and maps available, and visitors can combine hiking trips with tours of the fishing villages.
Excellent walking trails can be found throughout numerous nature reserves in Bohuslän, including the car-free Koster islands in Kosterhavet’s Marine National Park, and Marstrand, which is also known for fascinating cultural history, charming buildings and sailing.
Main image: Table set for traditional Swedish crayfish party (Shutterstock)