The Skördefest on Öland in Sweden

At the end of September there's on the Swedisch island Öland the Skördefest. Skörde means harvest, so Skördefest is Swedisch for harvestfestival. The original Skördefest was in Christian times associated with St. Michael, whose feast day is on 29 September. Around that time the harvest and animals where brought inside and there was a harvest festival; the Michael Feast, which was even not surpassed by Christmas. (source:
The former ancient harvest festival was also a week in which agreements could be disbanded or to be free and visit family and friends. People enjoyed themselves and visited markets and other entertainment. Around this time there where many marriages. For the agricultural community it was one of the biggest weekends of the year, bigger than Christmas.
It was banned by King Gustav III around 1772 because he thought that people were celebrating too much during the year.
From 1772 unto 1996 there was no Skördefest celebration on Öland in Sweden. The modern Skördefest is an old Swedish farmers tradition that is revived after more than 200 years. In 1997 the harvest festival came back in a more modern form and attracted in 2012 more than 100,000 visitors to Öland and in 2016 that was already twice as much: 200,000 visitors!  (source:

History of the Skördefest (harvest festival)

The modern Skördefest on Öland is a fairly recent development.
In it´s present form it´s the twentieth Skördefest in 2016.
Öland has a population of 26.000 people and that probably would´ve been much less if the bridge between Kalmar and Färjestaden was not inaugurated in 1972.

The bridge made the current developments and an increase in tourism possible. The idea for the current Skördefest on Öland emerged in late 1996 in response to the "Good Food Festival" on Jersey in the month of May. Both islands have many similarities and on Öland were many fresh ingredients present and also restaurants with excellent cooks. In previous years the various art studio associations organized separate presentations of their collections all at different times in the year. But with the emergence of the Skördefest they would do it all together on the Friday evening / night; the artnight was born: you could visit all art galleries until 3 o´clock in the night! Nowadays there are more than 900 different events and activities this weekend on the island. It was not possible to experience them all during one weekend, so I've been to the Skördefest on Öland in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016...

Impression of the Skördefest on Öland

The Skördefest on Öland is traditionally opened on Thursday with the election of the village that has performed best last year.
All over the island you´ll find Skördefest ornaments in the shape of pumpkins, straw bales and straw dolls. At the left you´ll see a photo of a roundabout at Köpingsvik (pro­nun­cia­tion: Sjeupingsvik) and on the picture on the right a family of straw dolls.
Ofcourse we know dragons from the Viking ships; there was a dragon parade in the village of Mörbylånga in 2013. It was a small parade with exactly one big dragon with smoke coming out of the nostrils.
Leading the dragonparade were people with a banner of a play about Annie, which would be staged on Öland from October 11, 2013, followed by a large Annie doll.
They made fun of Annie on this dragonparade...
Furthermore, there were a lot of costumed people participating in the dragonparade. I also saw some people with a bird's head. Öland is a rich bird area and is visited by many migratory birds, which in turn attracts many bird watchers: bird people... In a very quiet
little village called Stenåsa i found a sign natur­bok­handeln (nature book­store) to a store full of books about birds and a few other nature books. There were many cars and it was very busy (on a rainy Saturday afternoon, a week after the Skördefest). You´ll encounter many birdwatchers with tremendous binoculars dressed for the weather on Öland.

I also saw a woman who looked like half a troll (naturespirit) and half a green woman/man (vegetation goddess/god). You'll find troll´s in all kind of names, in the north of Öland you have the troll´s forest.

Borgholm slott
 -  Fårets dagar  (= Sheep days)

During Saturday and Sunday you could go to the sheeps days in the Borgholm ruin. Ofcourse you´ll see live sheep there but that is only a small part of what you can see there. At the en­tran­ce I saw this gentle­man in medieval clothes that guarded the entrance / exit, and a little further, the visitors were welcomed by this hostess. Futher in I´ve found this medieval group. At the courtyard just outside the ruin it seemed as if I was back at Castlefest.
There were all kinds of historically dressed people walking around, dressed in styles from around the Middle Ages and further back, the Viking Age. None of the vi­si­tors was histo­ri­cal­ly dressed, the people who where historically dressed were people that had a booth or were members of the historical society. The historically dressed people in the courtyard behind the
stalls sold dragons, woodcarvings, historic-looking cups and plates, gems, pendants with Thor's hammer, etc.

You could also buy knäckappels... Hmmmm...

The little courtyard just outside the ruins was very nice. Inside the ruins there were really many stalls everywhere with all kinds of products made of wool: stools, trolls, yuletomte's, woolen underwear ...

Burning a Vikingboat in Köpingsvik

In previous years I didn´t manage to get from one event in an other place to this event in Köpingsvik because of the distances on Öland. So at 26 september 2014  I made sure I would be there.
It was quiet that night on the beach of Köpingsvik. There was a Viking boat on the shore, on the beach stood a few wooden figures including a typical Öland mill and a (historically inaccurate horned) Viking.
It just started to get a bit darker when a procession of people with torches arrived at the beach. Some were in historical clothing. There was a ceremony and there was singing while it was slowly getting darker. When it was completely dark the vikinschip and the wooden creations on the beach was set on fire.

Eketorps Borg

I went to the Eketorps Borg on friday september 28, 2012. This is a reconstructed Viking village from the first centuries of our era.
This Viking Village is, just like the Archeon in the Netherlands, populated with modern people in historically accurate clothing during the opening hours. Outside the opening hours you can also visit Eketorps Borg but the museum and homes are closed. Although out of season the Eketorps Borg was opened for the Skördefest.
They performed a little historical play before our eyes (in Swedish) and then some Vikings lanced a burning bal with a sling catapult. Later there was a fire show with fire eaters.
The show was all in Swedish so unfortunately I could not understand much of it.


During the Skördefest you have the opportunity to clean up the attic and the barn and sell your things. There are also many Loppis (= second­hand) shops open during the Skördefest. One time I was in a house where every room was completely filled with Loppis, another time I saw a loppis sign along the way, I was driving into a country road to a farmyard to find just one table with some cups, pots and pans.
You´ll pay a nice price with some Loppis sellers, others seem to be asking the same price that you´ll pay for a new item. The Skördefest with more than 100,000 visitors is the opportunity to buy and sell Loppis everwhere on the Island ...


During the Skördefest there are the many ateliers on the island open, on the Friday and Saturday evenings even untill 1 o´clock in the night. Many artists come to the island for the Skördefest and hire a barn at a farm to set up as a temporary studio.
The farmers them­selves can be very artistic too with onions and leeks, as you can see at the picture on the right taken in Ventlinge.
In the many ateliers you´ll see beautiful pictures, beautiful glass art, wood carvings, handi­crafts, artworks sawn from metal, etc. etc ..
In the photo at the right, even the entrance to a gallery is a work of art made of logs and pumpkins.


= Click on the photo for a larger version =

Ölands Skördefest

When I went on vacation to the Swedish island of Öland in 2012, I accidentally arrived at the right time for the Skördefest, which was such a great event that I went back three more times!
With this report I hope to have given a bit of an impression of this event, that you must have experienced once!

Martin Roek