Spelmansstamman, Gammelstad, Sweden - Photo by Lola Akinmade

“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.


This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.

  • Thanks so much everyone!!

  • Congratulations Lola! I can almost hear their feet tapping on the boards. Love folk dancing, well, any kind of dancing really, so much fun! Sarah x

  • Beautiful post and photo, congrats on grabbing 3rd prize in the GrantourismoComp!

  • jif

    Love the story Lola – and I am surprised even 200 turned out with all the fuss over Victoria’s nuptials! And the photo is so vibrant – congratulations on the contest!

  • Congratulations on winning 3rd prize, Lola! I’ll send you a formal email connecting you to the sponsor, AFAR Media.

  • Gorgeous writing Lola. I was right there next to you.

  • @Siimone – Thanks! If anything, that’s what I always try to shoot for when submitting work to editors. Always stay within count unless they say otherwise 🙂

  • This is just perfect! You did a heck of a lot with 250 words. Lovely descriptions of the dress — I could see it so well, even without looking at the photo.

  • Lyn & Lara

    Thanks! I always love the total passion of locals in local small-town folk events.

  • Lovely! I love the text as much as the image! Thank you so much for entering our little HomeAway Holiday-Rentals Grantourismo Competition!

    Best of luck!

  • Lyn

    What a happy, uplifting photo! The colours are brilliant. I always feel sad when there are poor turnouts for things that are artistic … plays, recitals, exhibits etc. The artists put their heart and soul into their work to only have a few enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Judging by the photo though, the dancers didn’t let the lack of audience dampen their spirits.