Travels with my Art

Paintings and Photographs inspired by Travels Around the World

Sweden in the Summertime – and the living is easy

One of the things I learnt about Swedish people in the three years that I lived there, is that they really know how to really enjoy the summertime.

In a country that is cold and dark for much of the year, celebrating the sun is of the utmost importance. So come June, tens of thousands of Swedes abandon towns and cities and head to the coastal islands, inland lakes, vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains, for weeks of rest and relaxation.

Dreaming of lazy summer afternoons on the banks of Lake Mälaren in Sweden.

Dreaming of lazy summer afternoons on the banks of Lake Mälaren in Sweden.


And it is not uncommon to find everything shut down for an entire month, usually in July, while everybody takes their “industerial vactation”.

But it is not just the relaxing, it is the celebrations that come with summer which, like the summer daylight hours in Sweden, seem never ending.

The celebrations start with Valborg (Walpurgis Night) on April 30th, where everybody gathers outside to ignite hazardously large bonfires, sing songs and greet Spring.


Valborg Bonfire in Ekbacken, Åkersberga Sweden.

Valborg Bonfire in Ekbacken, Åkersberga Sweden.


People can really let their hair down as the following day is a public holiday, May Day, celebrated by the Swedish labour movement with demonstrations and political speeches. Since Ascension Day, occurs on a Thursday, the subsequent Friday is known as klämdag, “squeezed day”, and is also taken off from work by many Swedish people. Next comes Swedish National Day on June 6th, also known as the Day of the Swedish Flag – and yes another holiday.

The most important event for the Swedish calendar is Midsummer (or midsommar). Pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives, salmon and the first strawberries for the summer for dessert all washed down with brännvin. After eating all this, if you are up to it, there is dancing round the maypole and yet more singing (and drinking too).


Kräftpremiär  is a crayfish party, held in early August, and is the last of the traditional summertime festivals.


A month off work, fantastic fresh food, wild swimming, lazing around in the sun and all-day (and sometimes all-night) parties… I think I may be on the next flight back – Hej då.


Ali and family under the blossom trees in Kungsträdgården, in Stockholm, Sweden


A few of my favourite photographs and sketches from Sweden in the summertime


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  1. lenalimhamn January 12, 2017

    Ha! Sååå sant! Sooo true!

  2. thefamilynichols January 12, 2017

    Thanks for your support and you keep up the good work.

  3. lifetimejourney2017 January 13, 2017

    please come to my country India, we celebrate each moment of life.

  4. Baraka M January 13, 2017

    Lovely Art. Do you have any tips for aspiring blogger artists???

    • alidunnell January 14, 2017

      Hi Baraka. The best thing I can suggest you do if to post regularly and also like other people’s work. Also be sure to tag your work and make sure you enjoy your projects. Ali

  5. bloger anyar January 15, 2017

    Hi friend,thnks you for following my blog,,,succes always for you…

  6. Shikha Chandel January 18, 2017

    Amazing artwork. I would love to grab some quick tips from you to learn a bit of this fascinating art.

  7. Shikha Chandel January 18, 2017

    Next time you plan to visit India, there is a place in Himachal Pradesh, Bir Billing, a paragliding site, maybe you can cover some of its beauty in your work. ✌️

  8. memyselfruby January 25, 2017

    This is so interesting!

  9. countdowntofridayblog May 26, 2018

    That bonfire is huge! I feel like if I lived in Sweden I would be taking part in all of the summer festivities as well. I’m also a big seafood lover, so yum!

    • alidunnell May 28, 2018 — Post Author

      The bonfire was absolutely massive… an arsonists dream, but as a mum of three small children at the time, a bit scary! Sweden is perfect for summer and if you love seafood then you must go, especially for the Crayfish celebration! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  10. Emma May 27, 2018

    Northern Europeans definitely appreciate summer more than the mediterraneans do – I do kind of miss northern summers, where everyone wants to be outside all the time rather than diving inside to find the air conditioning at the first possible opportunity! Nice sketches too!!

    • alidunnell May 28, 2018 — Post Author

      Thanks for you comment Emma and the compliments about my sketches… whereabouts are you from?

  11. Eva May 28, 2018

    It’s always interesting to read impressions on Swedish ways of life from other expats in Sweden. Getting such summers is the biggest reward for enduring those endless dark winters. Almost four years since I moved to Sweden I started to appreciate the dark month, though. I like the coziness that builds up in every house and I usually just dive in hard work so I don’t mind the lack of sunlight. This makes summer lazying around even more rewarding!

    • alidunnell May 29, 2018 — Post Author

      Hi Eva, thanks so much for commenting. I have actually been away from northern Europe for four years now, living in East Africa, where the daylight hours are the same all year round, and although you get the rainy and dry season the temperature is pretty similar all year round too. I am most definitely craving the seasonal change… both the cold dark winters and the endless summers 🙂

  12. Cliodhna Ryan May 29, 2018

    I only heard of Swedish midsummer since moving to Tanzania and meeting so many Swedish people. Living so close to the equator where the days are always pretty much the same length has given me a new appreciation for European summer. I’ll be saving this post for when I return to Europe!

  13. Emma Bragginton August 3, 2018

    Fascinating descriptions and artwork. I am from the UK, so not that far away in general terms although our culture’s vary so much. It is somewhere I would love to visit and knowing there are so many celebrations in midsummer I think that would be a great time to go!

    • alidunnell August 6, 2018 — Post Author

      Hi Emma – I am actually from the UK too, but have decided to settle in Sweden… I have three children and Sweden really puts kids at the front of society… also Stockholm is such a great city to live in. Saying that, a big part of me still misses England too 🙂

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