Wanderlust Life studio manager Becky recently set aside her tools and spreadsheets to explore the Swedish archipelago, where the summer solstice – or Midsommar – is the biggest celebration in the calendar year. Here Becky shares impressions from her Scandi getaway and we offer a roundup of how to celebrate Midsommar the Wanderlust Life way.
“A friend of ours was in Stockholm for work so we flew out there to meet him. He had organised an amazing Airbnb about a half-hour drive from Stockholm. Set on water against woodland, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. There were panoramic windows and – of course – a hot tub and sauna. It was like something out of Grand Designs! The house was served by well water and there were pine trees all around, so every breath you took felt amazing.
Even in the middle of Stockholm there’s water everywhere, so it’s incredibly relaxing. We took a ferry to the ABBA Museum on the island of Djurgården, which is also home to the Gröna Lund fairground. Another fun spot we explored was Södermalm, which is kind of equivalent to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Our top finds there included a boutique called Grandpa and the L:a Bruket shop, which is a brand we stock in the Wanderlust Life store. To round out our Nordic experience, obviously we feasted on meatballs!”
Wanderlust Life’s solstice celebration guide
In a country of water and trees, the natural world is incredibly important in Swedish culture and traditions. The longest day of the year is cause for celebration – a very, very big celebration. For Swedes, it marks the kickoff of their five-week summer holiday. Cities become deserted overnight as everyone heads to the countryside to party. The farther north you go, the more profound the presence of the sun – in the country’s upper reaches you’ll get 24 hours of daylight. Even in the south, night lasts only for a couple of hours.
This year Swedes will be celebrating on June 22nd. You may not be heading over yourself, but that doesn’t have to stop you from joining the party. Here are the five key ingredients we’ll be mixing up for our own Midsommar revelry at Wanderlust Life.
Al fresco eating: In Sweden, people will be sitting down at long trestle tables outside to gorge on a spread of new potatoes with dill and chives, salad, hard-boiled eggs, salmon and numerous varieties of pickled herring. We might skip the herring, but under no circumstances will we be eating indoors.
A flower crown: Midsommer traditions are closely attuned to the rhythms of nature. Flowers play a big role, so Swedes will insist that making a wildflower crown is essential.
Let us eat cake: Eating Jordgubbsstårta – otherwise known as strawberry cake – is a focal point of the Midsommar eve meal. It’s basically Victoria sponge covered in whipped cream and fresh strawberries: a tasty way to salute the sun.
Soak it up: Swedes will be drinking shots of nubbe, which you might call snaps or aquavit. Whatever you choose to call it, think firewater infused with Swedish flavours like caraway or fennel. Meanwhile, non-alcoholic options tend to centre on elderflower. We’re striking a balance with Fever-Tree’s new ready-to-drink elderflower gin and tonic.
Sleep on it: Eating and drinking outside is all well and good, but with the opportunity to eek every last drop of sunlight out of the day, this is the night to try wild camping. And according to Midsommar tradition, if you pick seven different kinds of wildflowers and put them under your pillow, you’ll dream of the person you’re going to marry.