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How to make the most of Sweden's 2017 holidays

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How to make the most of Sweden's 2017 holidays
Your Swedish friends at their summer house. Photo: Lina Roos/imagebank.sweden.se
13:42 CET+01:00
The Local looks ahead to Sweden's 'red days' to help you make the most of your vacation in 2017.

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, before you even factor public holidays into the equation.

By law, firms have to give full-time staff 25 days off, with many offering even 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 disappear to their summer houses.

But as well as 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. However, you don't usually have to.

Keep reading for our top tips for navigating time off work in Sweden.


Find out when the best time is to take a few days off and go on a road trip. Photo: Faramarz Gosheh/imagebank.sweden.se

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 Swedish 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 of 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. 

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 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.

3. Beware of restaurant and attraction closures

While in some 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, so 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.

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 such as MeetupCouchsurfing and Internations to connect with other expats and immigrants who are in the same boat.

Keep reading for a full list of public holidays in Sweden in 2017.


Fika and chill. Like the Swedes. Photo: Ulf Huett-Nilsson/imagebank.sweden.se

National holidays in Sweden in 2017

January

Friday January 6th – Epiphany – Public holiday

New Year's Day falls on a Sunday in 2017, so you miss out on a red day. However, if you've planned ahead and asked for Monday-Thursday January 2nd-5th off, you effectively get a nine-day holiday despite only taking four days off your annual holiday quota.

April

Friday April 14th – Good Friday – Public holiday

Monday April 17th – Easter Monday – Public holiday

To make the most of this, take Tuesday-Friday April 18th-21st off and get a ten-day break. Maundy Thursday is often a de facto half-day for many, but check with your employer first.

Walpurgis Eve on April 30th is also often a half-day, but it falls on a Sunday in 2017.

May

Monday May 1st – Public holiday

Thursday May 25th – Ascension Day – Public holiday (Friday this week is a popular klämdag).

June

Tuesday June 6th – National Day – Public holiday (get an early request in for Monday off as a klämdag – or ask your employer if they're going to offer you a half-day off)

Friday June 23rd – Midsummer's Eve. Technically not a public holiday but most employers will give you the day off anyway. If they do, there's a chance they'll also treat Thursday as a half-day.

November

Friday November 3rd – All Saints' Eve. Because it falls the day before All Saints' Day, which is a public holiday, you may get half the day off. But not automatically, so ask your employer first.

December

Monday December 25th – Christmas Day – Public holiday

Tuesday December 26th – Boxing Day – Public holiday

Sunday December 31st – New Year's Eve. Just like Midsummer's Eve and Christmas Eve, this is not technically a public holiday but is often treated as such anyway. In 2017 it falls on a Sunday, so you won't get much out of it. However, the week between Christmas and New Year's is ideal if you want to use up some of your holiday allowance – just make sure you get there before your Swedish colleagues do.

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