It rivals Christmastime in its revelry, with festivities, music and food at every turn. Similarly, its roots trace to Biblical times, with some historical accounts linking its timing with the birth of John the Baptist. However, the Swedish midsummer (midsommar) celebration dates back even further, originating as a pagan solstice festival that was later embraced by the church and today remains the most important holiday for many Swedes. It stands to reason that residents of the Scandinavian haven would mark the coming of the season’s warmth and light, given the region’s long and dark winters.
For a few days (always over a weekend) in June, Swedes flee the cities for the countryside, where the celebration commences with folk dancing, traditional costumes, and games for all. Girls sport crowns of flowers while men raise the foliage-covered maypole, which is thought to coax Mother Nature into providing a bountiful harvest in the fall. No one is immune to the contagious joy of the midsummer soiree, as friends and family meet in the sunshine for feasts of pickled herring, new potatoes, beer and unsweetened schnapps.
In 2017, you’re invited to the party.
Crystal Symphony’s brand new “Baltic Legends” itinerary concludes with an overnight in Stockholm just as the annual festivities kick off, allowing you to immerse yourself in one of the occasions that is so integral to the culture of Sweden. While most locals head to the hills during the Swedish midsummer, travelers can find plenty of opportunities to partake in the party.
Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum, is the place to be for Midsummer Eve in Stockholm. It hosts some of the grandest festivals throughout the year and, situated on the island of Djurgården in the heart of Stockholm, presents a perfectly convenient locale for Crystal guests. But really, with green parks and vibrant markets and squares throughout the city, anywhere outdoors will do. You’ll be hard pressed not to be swept up in the merriment of the holiday, and you won’t really want to resist the gleeful current. Even the most stoic among you will be charmed by the spectacle of the traditional Små grodorna, a dancing game in which people of all ages hop around like frogs.
And though many local businesses and restaurants close for at least one evening during the annual festival, fear not. Many of Stockholm’s most famous sites and attractions will be accessible. Crystal offers more than a dozen experiences ashore that explore the famed Vasa Museum, Drottningholm Palace, the storied Old Town and the diverse culinary side of the city…plus, countless places to soak up the sun and take in the celebration.
Book now for the best value on Crystal Serenity’s “Baltic Legends” sailing, calling in London/Portsmouth; Zeebrugge (overnight); Copenhagen (overnight); Berlin/Warnemünde (overnight); St. Petersburg (double overnight); Tallinn and Stockholm (overnight).