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WEATHER

Six signs spring is on its way to Sweden

There's a hint of spring in the air in Sweden, and that's all it takes for everything to change. Here are six signs that the switch in season is well on its way.

Six signs spring is on its way to Sweden
There's nothing quite like the feeling of a balmy 13 degrees Celsius. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

1. People are willing to freeze in order to dine outside

Cafes and restaurants with al fresco seating are as anxious as anyone for winter to end. So giddy, in fact, that they often set up tables and chairs when the mercury shows a hint of creeping above freezing.

More shocking perhaps is the fact that customers can’t pass up the chance to sit outside and sip a drink while shivering in an effort to will spring into existence.

Stockholm following a hint of sun. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

2. Påskmust and other Easter treats are virtually given away

Love it or hate it, påskmust is a Swedish favourite at Easter time, with supermarkets stocking shelves to the brim full of bottles of what in reality is just the same carbonated beverage sold at Christmas as julmust, but with different packaging.

One consequence of that is that once Easter is over, the same stores virtually give away the stuff, cutting prices to a crazy extent in an effort to get someone to take all the left over bottles of the sickly drink off their hands. The same goes for Easter eggs and paraphernalia, all longingly looking for a home.

They can’t give this stuff away after Easter. Photo: Martina Holmberg / TT

3. A never-ending flurry of spring news stories arrive

Journalists in Sweden are no exception to the general desperation for the winter to end, and it’s a certainty that a host of stories looking at spring from any possible angle will appear. See: “Long wait left for spring”, “Spring weather headed to Sweden” and “Early signs of spring detected in Skåne”. Admittedly, we’re guilty as charged. Half a year of cold weather takes its toll.

First dip of the year’ is a Swedish spring news classic. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

4. No one is talking about Melodifestivalen

Depending on your tastes in TV, the onset of spring may also provide blessed relief from a staple of water cooler talk in Sweden: debates over the country’s annual Eurovision qualifying competition. The discussions start around Christmas and drag on to the grand finale in March, but once the fat lady sings (or more often than not, skinny, young person sings), small talk moves on to other topics. A solid sign that spring is on the horizon.

It’s all behind us now, thankfully. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

5. Kids soak up the last remains of the snow

Kids are the best at showing us how fun winter can be, and at this time of the year the combination of longer days with the last remains of the snow mean you’re more likely to see them out after dinner attempting to make one last snow man. That said, if you live in Sweden’s furthest north then the spring isn’t likely to be the final death knell for the snow – sometimes not even the summer is.

READ ALSO: Northern Sweden just had snow in June

Easter in Skåne. We’re not kidding. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

6. The dreaded collective spring clean

Spring cleaning is a custom that exists well beyond Sweden’s borders, but in the Nordic nation there’s a unique twist on it thanks to city living in the country often being based around cooperatives who collectively own apartment blocks.

That in turn means collective cleaning of the building’s gardens and facilities, two times a year, which in spring produces the unwelcome task of brushing away piles of gravel laid in the winter to provide traction, as well as actually having to talk to your neighbours. On the plus side, there may be hotdogs.

The aforementioned dreaded gravel. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

READ ALSO: How to survive living with the Swedes (including the spring clean)

STOCKHOLM

Eight signs spring has arrived in Sweden

It's beginning to look a lot like spring. Here are eight signs the new season has finally arrived in Sweden.

Eight signs spring has arrived in Sweden
We're pretty sure we saw the sun at least once this week. Photo: Axel Heimken/AP

1. The bikes are back

Everyone knows at least one hardcore cyclist who sticks to two wheels even in the Swedish winter, but for most mere mortals bikes are packed away for at least a few months of the year in exchange for public transport.

When the spring arrives, that changes, as cycle lanes start to fill up and bells start to ring out once more. Shared bike schemes in cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg also start their season, meaning more casual cyclists are back out on the streets now that the weather is favourable. But if you think the bike lane is busy now, wait for the summer…

2. Flowers pop up everywhere

Daffodils are a sign of spring in plenty of countries, but at this time of the year the range of other wild flowers that start to pop up even in the middle of Sweden's cities is striking. Windflower, alpine pennycress and liverleaf (which is far nicer looking than it sounds) bring splashes of blue, purple and white to grassy areas, and windows start to fill with picked or bought flowers that help quickly eliminate any remaining memories of the grey winter. 


Wild flowers at Hornstull, Stockholm. Photo: Beatrice Trodden

3. Lunchtime in the city seems twice as busy

With the winter over and the snow finally gone from large stretches of the country, weekday lunch breaks become a time to rush out from the office to the nearest park, square or green spot and sit in the sun for a half hour or so instead of staring at four walls like you have been for the past six months.

READ ALSO: Seven silly signs winter is over in Sweden

Everyone else has the same idea of course, and Sweden's cities suddenly seem twice as busy. The best spots quickly become sought-after, particularly around midday.

 

Det är vår #nytorget#kaffe#sälkskap

A post shared by Christina Bengtsson (@chben_70) on Apr 2, 2017 at 4:05am PDT

4. Football returns to parks and stadiums

With the ground no longer frozen solid and the temperature mostly in the positive region, kids and adults kicking a ball around the local park is an increasingly common site once the winter is over. The sport also returns to stadiums, as hockey finally cedes ground to the other sport of choice in the Nordic country.

The top football leagues (the Allsvenskan and Damallsvenskan) both run a spring-to-autumn schedule, so the 2017 season is only now starting to kick off while many other European countries are approaching the business end of their schedules. If you haven't already, now is the time to pick a Swedish team to back. 


Djurgården icon Kim Källström makes his return to the club for the 2017 Allsvenskan season. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

5. Street markets make a comeback

Swedes love a loppis (flea market) and progression into spring means it's time to gather all the junk from your storage space, throw it onto a table somewhere outdoors, and hope someone will pay you to take it off your hands and free up some space in the cellar for next year.

An extreme example is the Majorna Megaloppis (Majorna mega market) in Gothenburg, where 100,000 people turned up last May to have their fill of the junk on offer in the western city's hipster district.

READ ALSO: Six secret ways to enjoy Stockholm on a shoestring

Eating options also start to improve now thanks to the bigger street markets bringing food trucks and drinks vendors with them.  So you can grab a burrito or a kathi roll to go with your spring stroll instead of yet another boring sandwich. 

6. Waterway traffic

In the Swedish capital the spring thaw means boats start to pop up all over the city's waterways as people bring them out from storage now that the risk of winter damage is over. The Mälaren feels like it's alive again: the noise of motors or the sight of kayaks confirm the season has changed.

READ ALSO: The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries

In Gothenburg and Malmö meanwhile, tourists start to brave the canal boat tours previously rendered unappealing by the wind and rain as the boating season gets started.

7. Busy bushes

It's a tough life being a bird in Sweden: frozen, harsh, and long winters mean half of the year is a hard slog, so the creatures act understandably chirpier once the sunnier days get going.

Look out for bushes filled with gråsparvar (house sparrows) bustling around hunting for food, or for the tiny birds jumping around near human legs in search of a scrap or two. Which brings us to…


You'll be seeing more of these things in the coming weeks. Photo: Hasse Holmberg

8. Eating outdoors

Sweden's definition of weather appropriate for outdoor eating is a pretty generous one. Midday temperatures have been around the hardly Mediterranean-like 10-11 degree mark in Stockholm so far this week, but tables have already been put out in front of cafes and defiant Swedes have started to dine alfresco – between shivers and sniffles.

READ ALSO: Ten unmissable outdoor venues in Stockholm

In truth, it won’t really be a particularly pleasant experience for at least a month or so, but this is spring in Sweden, dammit, and we eat outdoors.


People have already started to use the outdoor seating at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm. Photo: Emma Löfgren