For the Sami people of Swedish Lapland, nature dictates the rhythm of their lives. In fact, there are so many subtle changes over the course of the year that the Sami insist there are eight seasons rather than the usual four. Here’s what you can do in Swedish Lapland all year round.
During March and April, it’s “spring-winter” – what the Sami call gidádálvve. There’s still plenty of snow for skiing and snowmobiling, but the early-spring sun brings a delicious warmth to your face. Late March is also one of the best times of the year to catch the elusive Northern Lights.
When spring properly arrives in April/May – known as gidá – hints of green return to the forests, and you might even hear the sounds of wobbly little reindeer calves being born. Catch the last of the snows while ski touring in the mountains.
Come June, it’s spring-summer – gidágiesse – and that means a blanket of greenery covering the landscapes. Hikers and cyclists take to the trails winding through forests and hills, and anglers find a quiet spot on rivers and lakes to cast their rods.
The arrival of summer in June\July (giesse) brings the midnight sun, when nights are as long as the warm, sultry days. The sparkling waters of Sweden’s coastlines and lakes are meant for lazy swims in glorious surroundings. Or hire kayaks and paddle boards to explore the waterways.
In August, everyone’s thoughts turn to food during this autumn-summer period called tjaktjagiesse. Woods teem with edible goodies such as mushrooms and berries, and you can’t let August go by without joining one of Sweden’s renowned crayfish parties. Countless crustaceans are consumed in giant outdoor parties that are the highlight of the summer.
Frosty nights and sunny days herald autumn in September and October, known as tjaktja, when you can notice the seasonal change in the air. You can still enjoy the fruits of the forest on foraging excursions, and you’ll be able to explore the woods in a riot of autumnal colour, particularly in September. As it’s low season, you’ll notice a drop in price too.
The early winter period of November and December – tjaktjadálvve – brings the winter wonderland that makes Swedish Lapland such a magical place. Snow turns the vast landscapes white and adds welcome light to the short days. Locals dig out their snowshoes for weekend jaunts through the countryside, while downhill and cross-country skiers look forward to making fresh tracks. You might see Sami herdsmen taking their reindeer out to winter pastures or along the coast to find the best feeding grounds.
A true Lapland winter – dálvve – runs from December to March and is the longest of the eight seasons. It’s also the coldest (naturally) and most enchanting. Make certain you’re dressed warmly to get the most out of this gorgeously snowy season. Christmas festivities send everyone to Santa’s grotto, and winter-sports fans make the most of this enormous playground. One of the most irresistible things to do is a dog-sled ride through white-draped forests and endless open landscapes. And to top it all, you can bask in the otherworldly glow of the Northern Lights.