Scandi summer culture

August 12, 2014 0 By Nordic House

Surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery the world has to offer, the Scandinavians are known for their love of the great outdoors, no matter what the weather! In summer, the Scandinavian culture scene truly comes alive, with a whole host of festivals and events taking place in the open air – some of which are so entrenched in Scandi summer culture they are actually public holidays.

In an effort to share a little of this way of life with you on the blog, I thought it would be nice to explore some of these traditions and events with you today.

Rivalling Christmas in the Nordic people’s affections is Midsommar, the most popular of all festivals across Scandinavia. Midsommar, also known as the Summer Solstice, marks the longest day of the year, June 21, but across Scandinavia celebrations continue for several days, with the Saturday closest to the date seeing the peak of the festivities.

Due to Scandinavia’s northerly location, the sun sets for only an hour in some parts of the region during this time, meaning their version of a ‘long day’ is very different from ours!

During June across Sweden, people decorate their houses both inside and out with wreaths and flower garlands, as well as the all-important Midsommar icon – the cross – which is draped with foliage and flowers, and then used to dance a maypole around!
Traditionally, during the celebrations, flower crowns are also worn by everyone in the family – including pets…

Of course, no Scandinavian celebration would be complete without a feast to accompany it – at Midsommar, simple, light dishes such as potatoes with herring or smoked fish and plenty of fresh fruit are the order of the day. As ever, the Scandis make the most of entertaining with truly stunning table settings seen throughout homes.

While Midsommar is an event with a long heritage, in more recent years, the Scandinavians have been quick to embrace the trend of summer cultural events and festivals. One of the largest of these is Stockholm’s Music & Arts Festival, which combines food, drink and art and music to create an exciting programme designed to make the most of the long summer evenings.

Situated on the island of of Skeppsholmen, surrounded by the city’s glittering waterscapes, the event uses its distinctive urban archipelago setting to great advantage, with big names such as Prince and Björk having performed in previous years.

Other cultural delights to savour in Sweden’s capital in the summer include an extensive programme of outdoor theatre events, held across the city’s parks. Plays, concerts and dance shows are all on offer, making the most of the beautiful surroundings of this ancient metropolis.

Over in neighbouring Denmark, another popular attraction not to be missed in the summer is the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The second oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli opened in 1843 and features one of the only working wooden rollercoasters left in the world today!

During the summer months, the park also hosts the Tivoli Festival, with 62 concerts on offer from May to September, featuring a vast range of different classical pieces from both up-and-coming and established musicians.

As ever, these are just a few of my personal highlights of things that must not be missed. In truth, there are so many events taking place in the Nordic countries that it would be impossible for me to list them all here!