Spring at Skansen begins with Easter and Walpurgis Night celebrations. During Easter week, decorative eggs, Easter feathers and rice, marzipan and sweets are sold at the Easter market. There is free entry for children dressed as Easter witches and wizards on Maundy Thursday, when they come to make brooms, write Easter letters and try their hands at arts and crafts.
Midsummer Eve is the highlight of the summer festivals in Sweden. The bright night turns into shorter nights and it is time for celebration, dancing and romance. Midsummer at Skansen is highly popular and attracts a huge crowd every year. You can be certain of a lively time with traditional Swedish entertainments and plenty of fun. Midsummer's Eve is, with Christmas, the most popular festival in Sweden. Just as in other parts of Europe the festival centred round an ancient agricultural ritual involving the entire village. Elsewhere the villagers made a great bonfire but in these latitudes the lightest night of the year was not the right time for dancing around a fire! So the bonfires were replaced by another ancient summer tradition; that of the maypole. Maypoles are believed to be part of an old fertility rite, the pole being a phallus that "impregnates" Mother Nature. It was hoped that properly celebrating this rite would help to give a good harvest in the autumn.
Midsummer today is a national holiday in Sweden. Families and friends meet and eat pickled herring and new potatoes washed down with schnapps and beer. Camping is a popular activity at this lovely time of the year while numerous people flee the cities for their summer cottages. Wherever people live they seek out a place where a maypole is raised and there is dancing and games – like the famous 'frog dance' (små grodorna).
National Day June 6th
The tradition of celebrating Sweden’s National Day – or Swedish Flag Day as it was originally known – began at Skansen. Skansen’s founder Artur Hazelius wanted to establish a festival to unite the nation, and he chose 6 June. It was on this day in 1523 that Gustav Vasa was proclaimed king, and Sweden’s former constitution was signed on the same day in 1809. Sweden’s National Day has been celebrated at Skansen since 1893.
Sweden’s National Day has been commemorated every single year at Skansen since 1893, and was designated a public holiday in 2005. In keeping with tradition, the day is celebrated in the presence of the Royal Family with speeches, songs and music at 6.30 pm. The festivities are broadcast on television in Sweden, and take place in Swedish.
Christmas at Skansen is a whole month of events and celebrations - from the opening of the first Christmas market until the fireworks at New Year´s Eve.
There has been a traditional Christmas market at Skansen every Christmas since 1903. The market is crowded with stalls selling traditional sausages, cheeses, handicrafts, spices and essences, Christmas decorations, embroidery, leather goods, Skansen's own handmade mustard, glass, bread and cakes, hand-knitted mittens, sugared almonds, tallows, honey, marzipan, crisp bread, smoked turkey, jams and marmalades, candy, children's books and masses of other irresistible items! There will be craft demonstrations and live music in the buildings where the tables also are set for Christmas dinner. Young and old can participate in the dancing games around the Christmas tree and make their own Christmas decorations.
Christmas in the houses and farmsteads
In several of the Skansen houses and farmsteads, christmas and coffee tables stand waiting and christmas trees have been decorated, illustrating the Yuletide customs of days gone by. Several of the traditional courses on the christmas table are still a part of present-day celebrations.
Dance around the Christmas tree
For the children, too, there are all sorts of things to do. Join the ring-dance round the Christmas tree and learn more about Swedish games and songs and dances.
Lucia is a popular festival in Sweden. Lucia, dressed in white and with a crown of candles in her hair, sings the Lucia song and serves coffee, buns and gingersnaps. At Skansen the typical Lucia celebration from the 1920's at the Temperance Hall take place during the day, and in the afternoon Skansen´s Lucia makes an appearance at the Solliden stage with her attendants before leaving for other duties. St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13. This traditional festival traces its roots back to Germany and an Italian saint, combined with Swedish traditions from the 18th century onwards. St. Lucia’s Day has been celebrated at Skansen since 1892.
New Year´s Eve
Every New Year's Eve since 1895, Tennyson's Ring Out Wild Bells has been recited at Skansen by a well-known Swede on the stroke of midnight. The Skansen New Year celebrations attract visitors by the thousand and are telecast live. The programme starts at about 23:15 with music and entertainment.