Today you’ll truly get some insight into Swedish culture, by experiencing the magic of a Swedish Midsummer celebration firsthand. Drive from Gällivare to Liehittäjä, a town located on a small lake near the Finnish border that feels like the top of the world. The town’s name comes from an ancient Finnish word for “seductive,” and that’s the perfect description of Huuva Hideaway
, where you’ll celebrate this important holiday. Huuva offers cozy accommodations squirreled away among a breathtaking natural setting, where trees climb high into the sky with branches spread out enough to offer you views out across a lake you’ll always remember. Choose to stay in a refurbished two-story log cabin (called Ajtta, or the Hideaway House) or Floataway, a houseboat where you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the lake. Both options come stylishly decorated with a combination of contemporary and traditional Swedish elements, giving it an authentic sense of place.
Lovers of art and design can also discover a local sense of place: A fun alternative stay is at the six-room Arthotel Tornedalen
, which features renovated country houses decked out with carefully curated Scandinavian design, crafts, and contemporary art, and set out on the winding Torne River.
At Huuva Hideaway, you’ll meet owners Pia and Henry Huuva, who will make you feel like part of their extended family. You’ll be invited to join in the Hideaway’s Midsummer celebrations, beginning with the essential tradition of picking colorful wildflowers to braid into garlands and wreaths. If you’re single, you may want to test a particular Swedish tradition: It’s said that if you pick seven particular flowers and sleep with them under your pillow on Midsummer, you’ll dream of your future spouse.
Before then, however, you’ll have a day of raising the maypole, joining the Dance of the Little Frogs around it, and participating in some of the games that are traditionally played at Midsummer celebrations, like sack races and kubb
. The latter game is sort of like a Swedish version of lawn bowling, in which each player tries to knock over the wooden blocks, or kubbs, of their opponent.
The Huuva Hideaway celebration includes, of course, opportunities to sample favorite Swedish dishes and drinks. If your visit doesn’t fall on the Midsummer holiday itself, you can enjoy the delights of the Edible Country
experience offered at a reindeer corral just 15 minutes from the Hideaway. This four-hour culinary adventure begins by walking through dense woods in search of ingredients for your meal—perhaps spruce needles (trust us) or wild berries that explode with flavor, like delicious cloudberries. You’ll then learn how the cuisine of Sweden’s far north has been shaped by Sámi influences. The menu for the experience depends on what’s available and at its freshest on any particular day, but you might sit down to a meal pike caught in a nearby lake, roe from the small vendace fish, or moose or reindeer meat.
The perfect end of your day, whether you’ve been celebrating Midsummer or participating in the Edible Country experience, is to participate in a Swedish ritual that’s always refreshing and unforgettable—a late-night swim under the midnight sun, as you gaze up at the stars and dream of the Swedish adventures still to come.