There is a theory that says the entire Earth was once covered in ice. That would explain why we can find enormous erratic boulders in the middle of the Namibian desert. The theory is usually called ’Snow Ball Earth’. A suitable name. Swedish Lapland is significantly influenced by the latest ice age, the ice that reduced ten thousand years ago. The land is still rising by the coast, and the Swedish mountains have very rounded peaks. The peaks never reached the surface of the ice; instead, they were sanded down by kilometre-thick sandpaper, which is what the inland ice in effect was.
About 30 years ago, Yngve Bergqvist looked out from the Inn in Jukkasjärvi and thought there must be a way of developing the destination for winter. Up until then, it had been a summer destination because of the midnight sun. But inspired by the Japanese ice artists, Yngve got the idea to construct a hotel out of ice. Today more people come for the ice and winter than the summer and midnight sun. And the bar made of ice became an export success. In the capital, at Icebar Stockholm by Icehotel, you can have a drink in minus degrees surrounded by ice from the Torne Valley. icehotel.com
A sense of freedom, speed, wind and adventure – the joy of the first ice can be experienced in many different ways. For the regulars, it’s that first, swaying ice they want. In October, the first mountain lakes start to freeze, then the bigger running waters in the forest land and finally, the archipelago in the Bothnian Bay freezes. It’s a mare tenebrosum for all adventurers on skates. The sea of the unknown – there to be explored.
Skellefteå’s fascination with winter bathing has resulted in regular winter swimming competitions. Since 2012, international championships have attracted participants from all over the world to Skellefteå. The participants often compete in water just 0.1 degrees’ warm’ – at distances ranging between 25 and 200 meters using breaststroke and freestyle. The championships and held in February every year. vintersim.se
To deliver goods to Sweden’s northernmost parts, there are a number of ice breakers stationed to keep the Bothnian Bay ports open. Some years they work around the clock. Other winters, they are mostly found docked, all shiny. But for those who wish to engage in their own ice breaker adventure, we recommend Piteå or Kalix.
A church has always been found at Icehotel: as a place to celebrate. Weddings and christenings have been part of its history since the first Icehotel was built. The ice church is transient; the ice constantly changes. Your wedding will take place in a building that is unique, just like your ceremony. And the wedding night? Yes, you can spend that, too, on ice. icehotel.com
These days, the car-testing industry in Arjeplog, Sorsele, Arvidsjaur, Jokkmokk and Skellefteå is world-famous, and an exciting form of entertainment has been developed in connection with it. And on lake Uddjaur, in Arjeplog, you’ll find one of the coolest driving schools in the world. Out here on the ice, we find perfect replicas, scale 1:1, of formula-1 tracks such as YAS Marina in Abu Dhabi, Circuit Paul Ricard, Nürburgring and Le Mans, and Silverstone. There are also some oval tracks and some other training tracks. lapland-ice-driving.com
It’s said that winter baths can work with many good health effects, such as lower blood pressure and a stronger heart, among other things. Some love the feeling of the icy water, while others could not imagine a worse experience. At the end of 2019, Arctic Bath opened in Harads outside Boden. A year-round spa hotel and cold bath house located on the Lule River. arcticbath.se
Here today, gone tomorrow. There’s only ice during the right season. Ice climbing is a simultaneously cool and sublime adventure. In the shade of the mountains’ north-facing sides, the ice in Swedish Lapland keeps its high quality during a very long season. Ice climbing makes you focus properly and not think about anything else, challenging your physique as well as your mind. swedishtouristassociation.com
Where there is cold, there is ice. Where there is ice, there is ice hockey. Since the ’70s, ice hockey has been one of Sweden’s national sports – in other words, a sport especially culturally important for the land. The region is known for taking great pleasure in ice hockey. Ask anyone you meet here in Swedish Lapland who their favourite player is, and you’ll get an answer. The region is also known for its successful teams. Skellefteå has practically a standing place in the final for the past ten years.
The author Jim Harrison, Legends of the Fall, called ice fishing ‘the moronic sport’. But even if it can be slightly monotonous to stare down a hole in the ice with cold toes, that statement might be a tad unfair. When a large Arctic char bites, it’s even exciting! And in Swedish Lapland, it’s not uncommon that we build ourselves a tiny house – an ark – to sit in when we’re out ice fishing.
The last time Sweden was in a war, in 1809, the Russians walked across the Bothnian Bay. Using frozen water – lakes, rivers or even the sea – is a common way of finding the fastest road. In many places, inhabitants help to make the ice (read: the road) thicker by pumping up water on top of the ice when it freezes because it’s a lot colder on top of the ice than underneath.
Blue, blue eyes. There are few things as icy blue as the eyes of a beautiful Husky in the middle of winter. It’s bewitching. You go on a dog sled tour through the mountains and your leader-dog Spike has the most magical, intense blue eyes you’ve ever seen. You can’t stop thinking about them when you get back home. You decide to go back.
It’s no secret that just being out in nature does something with us, humans. When we are out in the woods, in the mountains, on the open fields or the water, we tend to forget our everyday musts, or at least look at them from a different perspective. We find it a little easier to focus on what actually matters. Yoga increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, makes it easier for your body to relax, leading to better sleep and better focus. Where could it be better to perfect your yoga positions than right here?
Dinner on Ice is lit candles, linen tablecloths, a crackling fire and a three-course gourmet dinner – on ice. The torches show the way out to the tent on the ice of the Bothnian Bay. If you have the weather with you, you get to experience starry skies, and with a bit of luck, dancing northern lights. dinneronice.se
For some, biking is a way of life. But if you live in a subarctic climate, how do you maintain your passion in winter? Well, you use the frozen sea as terrain. When the fat bike arrived, a whole new world opened up for bikers. In addition to the opportunity to get out into beautiful winter forests, it also became possible to experience the archipelago in winter.
It’s widely acknowledged that the kick-sled was invented somewhere in the very north of Sweden during the 19th century. Those kick-sleds had runners made of wood and looked more like sledges. The first kick-sled with steel runners was’ Orsasparken’, first made in 1909. Placing your foot on one of the runners, you could quickly get the sled to move by kicking with the other. Hence the name kick-sled. The golden era was during the 1940s when J Malmqvist & Son AB in Växjö produced and sold more than 100,000 kick-sleds per year. The kick-sled has been used for transportation ever since, and it truly is great means of conveyance during the winter months.
In March 2018, a group of Dutch people came to Swedish Lapland. Specifically to the ice road in Luleå. The Dutch speed skater Kjeld Nuis, who has previously won double Olympic gold and several World Cup championships, attempted to set speed records on skates. And he did! The previous record, 62.8 km/h, can be perceived as relatively slow when Nuis reached 93 km/h on the ice outside Luleå.