Every winter in the first weekend of February, there is a huge market that takes places far north in Sweden and attracts tourists from as far as Japan. Sounds crazy right? Especially since the cold can be quite unforgiving, with temperatures around -35C if you're unlucky. But it's worth it!
Jokkmokk is a small town but with lots of tradition and history to it. Since I was home for this year’s market I decided to tag along and brought a friend as well. My mom tends to go every year because she grew up there (and every year she always runs into at least 3-5 people she knows, even though she moved away from home when she was 16 or 17).
If you’re going, be sure to DRESS WARMLY! Layers and layers and wool and more layers and proper winter shoes. Once you’ve got that settled, it’s also good if you have the ability to take out cash before arriving (the market stands won’t accept cards) and otherwise you’ll end up here:
And it only got worse after we got in line.
Once you get your money, check out the stands! There’s lots of crafted items, homemade jewelry, homemade food and drinks with a local touch (lots of game and tasty berries), and lots of warming hats:
If you get hungry, there’s only one place to eat (if you’re a vegetarian/vegan) you’re in for a bit of a tricky ride though…
Once your belly is full and you’re feeling warm, be quick and check out the reindeer parade which goes through the entire market. We caught it at the end just as they were leaving (and my film was running out).
If you’re unlucky and miss it or just want to look at more reindeers, then head down to the frozen lake to catch the reindeer race! Cheeky friends will submit you to be in the race, or you’ll be brave and submit yourself. You’ll be laying on a sleigh behind a speeding reindeer and holding on for dear life.
Before the race started, some tired people came skiing into the track. They were finishing a crazy marathon: 50km biking, 80km skiing, and some running and some more skiiing. All in just a few days.
And meanwhile behind us:
Once that’s over (or when you feel your feet are getting cold) trample back up to the town, maybe swing by some of the huts (kåta) for a warm time, there’s often companies offering warm blueberry drinks there, or stands for coffee, tea, or a cinnamon bun.
And don’t forget to buy some tasty reindeer jerky from one of the various stands selling it before going home again.