“Where is everyone?” Inez asks the bespectacled old man standing at the makeshift entrance…a wooden table with a plastic container for tickets and another for money.
He laughs dryly. I understand why.
Besides the dark rain clouds that have been hanging over Luleå all morning, it seems something else has driven everyone indoors and glued to their television sets.
An event most Swedes have been waiting 30 years for…a certain royal wedding.
Every mid June, residents of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Gammelstad and surrounding towns gather to enjoy its annual Spelmansstämman – a Fiddlers’ meet up. Amidst 19th century wooden cottages where local actors dressed in native Laplander period pieces stoke fires and make thin bread from scratch, fiddlers tap boot-clad feet and play old Swedish and Finnish songs.
Maidens in long striped frocks with colorful flowery scarves wrapped around their shoulders dance and twirl with gentlemen in baggy black pants, worn-out camel brown boots, and shocking red tops.
The Spelmansstämman usually draws thousands to the historic site who come to sing along to old tunes, and take horse-drawn buggy rides through fields of grazing sheep.
Barely two hundred make it out today.
The heavy clouds break for a few minutes and sun rays spill brightly out. The folk dancers hop back onto the wooden stage and spin, skip, and clap, entertaining a dozen drenched onlookers.
They take their bow to scanty applause and as if on cue, the heavens open up once more and rain falls.