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When can you buy alcohol in Sweden on New Year’s Eve?

Before planning your alcohol shopping this New Year's Eve, here's everything you need to know about Systembolaget's opening hours, Covid restrictions, and alcohol-free options.

When can you buy alcohol in Sweden on New Year's Eve?
File photo of Sweden's state-run alcohol chain Systembolaget. Photo: Ari Luostarinen/SvD/TT

State-owned alcohol chain Systembolaget is open on the days running up to and including New Year’s Eve.

It is likely that stores will be much busier than usual, with long queues and less availability throughout the day as everyone rushes to stock up. 

Below are the general opening hours, but keep in mind that local shops may have differing times – it’s best to check on Systembolaget’s website (in Swedish). 

New Year 2021-2022

  • Thursday December 30th: Open until 7pm
  • Friday December 31st (New Year’s Eve): Open until 3pm
  • Saturday January 1st (New Year’s Day): Closed
  • Sunday January 2st: Closed

Epiphany 2022

  • Monday January 3rd: Regular opening hours
  • Tuesday January 4th: Regular opening hours
  • Wednesday January 5th: Regular opening hours
  • Thursday January 6th: Closed
  • Friday January 7th: Regular opening hours
  • Saturday January 8th: Regular opening hours

December is, unsurprisingly, one of the busiest times for alcohol shopping in Sweden. Due to the rise in cases of Covid-19, it’s a good idea to go to the store alone to reduce the risk of congestion and the spread of infection, and make sure you keep a distance to other people.

The Swedish Public Health Agency recommends everyone to wear a face mask on crowded public transport, but there is no requirement to wear one in shops. If you would like to do so anyway, there is no rule against it, and here’s the WHO’s guidance on how to wear it.

Shops are generally less busy in the morning, but during the holidays it may be impossible to avoid the crowds entirely, especially in the big cities. Just before Christmas, people shared pictures on social media of long queues and empty shelves at Systembolaget.

If it’s very busy, the best option is to not go at all. Systembolaget offers delivery services across Sweden, but bear in mind they will take longer to arrive during the holiday period.

You can find low-alcohol beer and non-alcoholic wine alternatives in supermarkets, which usually have longer opening hours over the holidays. The growing zero-alcohol industry means there are plenty of often excellent low-alcohol ciders, beers, and wines available in Swedish supermarkets. 

In restaurants there are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol at the moment, but as of December 23rd restaurants can only have table service and groups must be limited to eight plus keep a metre’s distance to each other. Everyone is recommended to keep a distance from other people in public spaces, especially indoors. Drink sensibly so that you’re able to follow health and safety recommendations.

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Alcohol monopoly Systembolaget is Sweden’s most trusted institution: public confidence survey

People in Sweden show no sign of falling out of love with state-run alcohol monopoly Systembolaget, according to a study of the population's trust in different institutions, companies and political parties.

Alcohol monopoly Systembolaget is Sweden's most trusted institution: public confidence survey
Red wines for sale at Systembolaget. File photo: Leif R Jansson / SCANPIX/TT

On the other hand, public trust in the government has fallen after an election that was followed by four months of deadlock and a cross-bloc compromise, the annual trust survey from Medieakademin showed.

Almost four in five of the people interviewed (78 percent) said they had 'quite' or 'very' high trust in Systembolaget, the only place it's possible to buy drinks with more than 3.5 percent alcohol content outside licensed bars and restaurants. This was an increase from last year's edition of the survey, when Systembolaget was still the most-trusted institution but the figure was only 71 percent.

IN DEPTH: 'The most drunken country in Europe': Read this and you might like Systembolaget a whole lot better

In second place was the police force, in which 71 percent of people said they had 'quite' or 'high' trust, and in third place was the higher education system, with 70 percent. Fourth in the ranking was the Ikea brand, at 69 percent.

According to the survey, public confidence in most Swedish institutions had risen compared to earlier years.

But when it came to the government, trust had fallen, with only 30 percent of those surveyed saying they had trust in the government. This was a drop of five percentage points from the previous year.

And there was significant variation in the level of trust for the different political parties. The proportion of people saying they trusted the centre-right Christian Democrats saw the biggest change, growing from 13 percent last year to 30 percent this year; the greatest year-on-year rise reported in the survey since 2004.

But the two largest parties, the centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right Moderates, were still the most trusted with figures of 32 and 31 percent respectively.

The media forum has carried out its annual Trust Barometer survey each year since 1997 to find out how people in Sweden view government agencies, companies and organizations. This year, around 1,200 people were interviewed for the survey.


trust (noun) – förtroende

trust (verb) – lita på

alcohol – alkohol

societal debate – samhällsdebatt

annual – årlig

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