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How to make the most of Sweden's public holidays in 2018

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How to make the most of Sweden's public holidays in 2018
There are secret tricks to making the most of Sweden's public holidays. Photo: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se
07:59 CET+01:00
The Local looks ahead to Sweden's 'red days' to help you make the most of your vacation in 2018.

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If you're working in Sweden, take note that you're already one of the luckiest employees on the planet when it comes to annual leave, even before you factor public holidays into the equation.

By law, firms have to give full-time staff 25 days off, with many offering more generous policies. You usually have the right to take at least four consecutive weeks off in June-August, with big cities emptying out in those months as residents (yes, your boss, too) disappear to their summer houses.

But on top of those paid vacation days, there are several so-called 'red days' in the Nordic nation. Plenty of workers schedule their breaks away around these public holidays – keep reading for our best tips for navigating time off work and making the most of your holidays in Sweden in 2018.

1. Check your company's approach to annual leave around public holidays

Some firms offer de facto bonus half days ahead of public breaks, while others ask staff to take annual leave in the days before or afterwards, in order to synchronize company work schedules. Businesses may also offer a 'first-come-first-served' policy for those wanting popular days off around red days (the dates between public holidays are known as klämdagar which means 'squeezed days') especially during school holidays.

However, many employers are very flexible, so consider whether you might actually want a few quiet days in the office while your boss sticks around at their summer house after a national holiday, perhaps saving your annual leave for dark November or frozen February.

If you do shift work or are a member of a union, you're likely to get extra pay for working public holidays. If red days take place over a weekend, some firms – but far from all – offer an alternative weekday off instead.

If you're not sure what your company's policy is, don't be afraid of discussing holidays with your employer. Sweden's approach to work-life balance means they are more likely to think less of you if you don't plan any time off.


Don't be afraid of talking to your boss about holidays. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

2. Book early if you want to travel during 'red day' periods

Swedes love to plan, so if you're thinking about going travelling around Sweden over Midsummer or enjoying an Easter getaway, now is the time to get organizing. Hotels, flights and popular restaurants can get booked up months in advance, with prices rising as the holidays get closer. If you have family abroad, it could be more expensive to return home to visit them, or for them to visit you.

Also, make sure you get your request in early doors to get those klämdagar off. In fact, your Swedish colleagues have probably already beaten you to it.


"I beat Lasse to that klämdag!" "Skål!" Photo: Henrik Holmberg/TT

3. Beware of restaurant and attraction closures

This sounds counter-intuitive, but while in many countries public holidays can often be a chance for tourist attractions to cash in on extra visitors, many Swedes consider their time off to be sacred, to check online to make sure that museum, café or climbing centre you've been longing to visit is actually open. Even in big cities such as Stockholm, many restaurants close for weeks in summer.


Don't bother. Just go to the sommarstuga like everyone else. Photo: Clive Tompsett/imagebank.sweden.se

4. Be prepared for your Swedish friends to leave town

Public holidays are a classic time for Swedes to leave the country's big cities and head to their parents' places or second homes in the countryside, so they can be a lonely time for foreign workers. Start dropping hints early if you're hoping for an invitation to a Swedish summer house or check online social forums to connect with other internationals who are in the same boat.

Keep reading below for a list of Sweden's public holidays in 2018.


Spend your summer in Stockholm's archipelago? Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

National public holidays in Sweden in 2018

January

Monday January 1st – New Year's Day – Public holiday

It's a good start to the year, because New Year's Day falls on a Monday (in 2017 it fell on a Sunday), which means you get the first Monday of the year off. Unfortunately that means Epiphany, January 6th, falls on a Saturday, so 9-5 workers miss out on that extra red day.

March

Friday March 30th – Good Friday – Public holiday

April

Monday April 2nd – Easter Monday – Public holiday

May

Tuesday May 1st – Public holiday

Thursday May 10th – Ascension Day – Public holiday

Walpurgis Eve on April 30th is often a de facto half-day (but check with your employer first). In 2018 it falls on a Monday, so to get yourself a long weekend holiday, ask for the whole day off.

There's another chance at a long weekend later in May if you get the Friday after Ascension Day off. But it's a popular klämdag, so make sure you get there before your colleagues.

June

Wednesday June 6th – National Day – Public holiday

Friday June 22nd – Midsummer's Eve. This isn't technically a public holiday, but because the day is such an integral part of Swedish summer traditions, most employers will give you the day off anyway. If they do, there's a chance they'll also treat you to a half-day off on the Thursday.

November

Friday November 2nd – All Saints' Eve. Not a public holiday, but because it falls the day before All Saints' Day, which is, there's a chance you'll get half the day off. But ask your employer first.

December

Monday December 24th – Christmas Eve

Tuesday December 25th – Christmas Day – Public holiday

Wednesday December 26th – Boxing Day – Public holiday

Monday December 31st – New Year's Eve

Tuesday January 1st, 2019 – New Year's Day – Public holiday

Just like Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are not technically public holidays, but they are almost always treated as such anyway. This year the Christmas holidays are perfectly positioned just after the weekend, which means you'll get a full five days off. A hot tip is to ask for Thursday and Friday December 27th and 28th off and effectively get 11 consecutive days for the price of two days of your allowance (but get your request in early – this one will be popular).

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