For the last year, trend pieces about Scandinavian lifestyle have been dominated by Hygge – the Danish art of being cosy, embracing the winter months and giving ourselves over to our inner sloth.
Well, now that May is here and Spring has really sprung, we’re all looking forward to lighter brighter days. So how do our Scandi chums make the most of this time of year and where are the best places to see Spring at its finest in the Nordic world?
Belle gathered together four experts to tell us all about it.
Julia Jones is a travel expert with her own company Iceland Traveller specialising in creating adventures, trips and tours.
She says: ‘The Icelanders are a bit different from us in that they only divide the year into two seasons – winter and summer.
‘Summer is the first Thursday after April 18 and is a public holiday. And interestingly, your age (whether a person or a horse) was traditionally measured in winters.
‘Summer’s also a time when meeting regularly for indoor pastimes such as knitting or playing music gives way to taking outdoor hikes and walks as the days get longer.’
ICELANDIC SPRING MUST-DOs:
*Hiking and walking trails that open up as the snow melts
*Stay on a farm and see the lambing season
*Hire a summer house and watch as the landscape starts to bloom
Norwegian kids clothing brand Tiny Trolls of Norway is owned by Elaine Kobbeltvedt – a Brit who moved to Norway over 30 years ago.
She says: ‘With the springtime comes a new energy and a change of pace and you’ll find Norwegians are often first in the queue to throw off their clothes! Skiing clothes are packed away and a new wardrobe more appropriate for cycling comes out as the Norwegians indulge their love being outside.
‘Norwegians wave goodbye to the venison-heavy diet of winter and eat a lot more fish. Cod is in season in the Spring and the BBQs come out.’
NORWEGIAN SPRING MUST-SEES:
*Lofoten – in the north of the country has dramatic scenery. There are mountains and ocean for miles and you’ll find the best fish and seafood restaurants in the country.
*Bergen – as Spring arrives the sun shines on the multicoloured buildings in the harbour and if you travel to the top of the floyen (furnicular train) you can see across the whole town and out across the north sea.
Cecilia Borjerson is an editor at travel search platform, HolidayPirates. She says:
‘For Swedes, the ultimate Spring celebration is the Walpurgis, which runs from April 30th until May 1st. Different areas of Sweden celebrate the Walpurgis in their own individual way, but typically there are bonfires, which were traditionally lit to scare away predators from the grazing animals.
‘The beginning of Spring is also when Swedes usually open up their summer houses for the first time after winter and celebrate by eating seasonal dishes including freshly pickled potatoes.’
SWEDISH SPRING MUST-SEES:
* Stockholm Archipelago – a wonderful place to visit in the Spring, as the rocky isles and their forests and wildflowers begin to bloom.
* Mjällådalen – is always worth a visit in the Spring, due to its incredible landscapes and the river, which is perfect for hiking around, or doing some relaxed fishing in. Ones you’ve caught your fish, you can also attempt to smoke it, like the Swedes do, in one of the smoking huts, called rökkåta.
Cecilia says: ‘The Danes typically celebrate the start of spring during the Easter holiday but there are also a number of celebratory events that take place in May. For example, on May Day, while a lot of Danes don’t get a day off, they will usually gather in the afternoon to listen to political speeches, spend time with friends and enjoy street food and entertainment.
‘During the Spring, Danes also enjoy Påskebryg, an Easter beer which has been brewed since the time when Denmark first embraced Christianity. Danes will also enjoy a Smørrebrød – a type of open sandwich, covered in fresh Spring produce and plenty of fish.’
DANISH SPRING MUST-SEES:
* Skagen – Located in the north of Denmark, the landscape is popular with artists and photographers. Grab a bike and cycle around, enjoying the beautiful yellow houses and trying some delicious ice cream along the way.
* Roskilde – This city west of Copenhagen has many historical sites including the cathedral the fjord which look their best bathed in Spring sunshine.