A horse, two famous artists and the best Midsummer celebrations

DALARNA, SWEDEN: There are tourists and there are travellers. Without doubt there are places more interesting and charming than others – places packed with recommendations, on and off the beaten path. Any passionate about travel and visiting the most original and interesting places, should head off to the region of Dalarna in the middle of Sweden.

I am passionate about the best places to visit and to join interesting happenings. Midsummer in June is a huge ritual across Sweden, with people young and old getting together to celebrate, either at large community events or smaller gatherings of friends and family. Midsummer’s Eve is leading to a mass departure from the cities and into the countryside full of wild flowers. This is Sweden´s most beloved holiday and for practical reasons, Midsummer Eve is always on a Friday between June 19 and June 25.

Dalarna. My advice is head to Dalarna. This central part of the country has some spectacular scenery, with rolling green hills, shimmering lakes and red wooden cottages.  Towns and villages around Lake Siljan put on some of the country’s best Midsummer parties – try Leksand, Rättvik or Mora. Almost 90 villages in the area of Leksand has its own maypole and the celebrations are usually spaced out, making it possible to celebrate a few times within the same week.

Mysterious. Girls wearing a wreath of flowers is part of the Swedish tradition around Midsummer, on their way home, girls and young women are supposed to pick seven different species of flowers and lay them under their pillows. At night, their future husbands appear to them in a dream.
Legend has it that the night before Midsummer’s Day is a magical time for love. It still is, in a way. During this night many a relationship is put to the test. Under the influence of alcohol, the truth will out, which can lead both to marriage and to divorce. Midsummer is a popular time of year for wedding in a country church with a flower-bedecked, arched entrance.

Famed Artists. At the same period, two of Sweden´s most famous artists, Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson lived in this area and was inspired by Dalarna. Museums presenting their works, life and history are popular – Carl Larsson in Sundborn and Anders Zorn at the Zorn Museum in Mora, where you can visit his exceptional home. More than 100 years ago, Zorn obtained international success as a painter and was paid staggering 10,000 US dollar for making a portrait. He also made one of Franklin D. Roosevelt in New York and Zorn´s works are represented in some major museums around  the world.

 Dala Horse. A world famous symbol of this province is the Dala Horse, in Swedish Dalahäst, a traditional carved, painted and decorated wooden horse. Still a handcrafted article, made of pine and a long tradition. At least nine different people contribute their skills to create each horse. A year 120,000 Dala Horses are sent from Nusnas, the centre of horse-making, to Europe, the US, Japan and Australia serving as a symbol of Sweden. More about Dala Horse

All year. Visit with family and discover the outdoors of Dalarna, perfect to walk the mountains or try the bike trails, paddle lakes and rivers by canoe or kayak. In wintertime try the child-friendly ski resorts or come for the world´s biggest cross-country event, The Vasa Ski Race.
Anyone who tells you that Sweden is a small world just hasn´t travelled this country – and for sure has never been to Dalarna. Midsummer is the party to celebrate and Dalarna a place to visit before you die.

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Read more about Dalarna

Make it Happen!

Touch Down: They say: Visiting Dalarna without seeing Tallberg is like being at a wedding without seeing the bride. Tallberg can be reached by train from capital Stockholm and three-hour drive by car. Bus from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Oslo.

Stay: Hotels in the Siljan area near Leksand put on special midsummer offers. This village has eight top hotels, each one with exclusive profile and history. Try Green Hotel and let your gaze fly over Lake Siljan. This hotel is filled with art and has an exclusive museum showing art by old masters such as Picasso, Max Ernst and Chagall. Greenhotel.se

Eat: Different kinds of pickled herring and boiled new potatoes with fresh dill are part of the menu. Followed by a grilled spare rib or salmon, and for dessert the first strawberries of summer, with cream. The traditional drinks are cold beer and snaps, preferably spiced. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out. Swedes like drinking songs, and the racier the better. My advice: Just pace your snaps carefully.

Play: Join in for a cruise on Lake Siljan departing from Leksand, Rättvik and Mora. Eat and drink in the first-class restaurant on board M/S Gustaf Wasa, a ship built in 1876.

Mini Guide: Activities:  Cykelvasan, Fulufjället, national park with highest waterfall in Sweden, Björnparken, Tomteland, Trollskogen, Leksand amusement park for families Local crafts; Visit Jobs Handtryk, a shop providing hand printed and exclusive design. Guided tour of the workshop in Vastanvik, Leksand. The best way to experience Midsummer is with a group of Swedes. Head to one of the public gatherings in parks and town squares around the country. These tend to kick off fairly early on Midsummer’s Eve – aim to get there for around midday. Next Midsummer celebrations: Friday 22nd June 2018

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