Flowers enliven festival

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 June, 1994, 12:00am

ONE of the best times of the year to visit Sweden is in the summer when the days are longest and most sunny.

Most city dwellers head for the countryside and get back to nature. It is also the time of the midnight sun in the country's north.

One of the most important festivals of the year is held at this time, when Swedes celebrate Midsummer Day, which falls on the Saturday nearest June 24.

On Midsummer's Eve, homes, cars and even some public buildings are decorated with garlands of flowers.

Almost every village and town has a maypole. Once it is raised, people dance around it in a ritual which has its roots in ancient fertility rites.

The day before Midsummer is one associated with supernatural happenings. Legend has it, for example, that the dew collected on this day has healing properties.

Another ritual is said to tell you who you will marry. To find out this, you should collect seven or nine different kinds of flowers and place them under your pillow; you will dream of your future bride or bridegroom.

A more recent addition to the calendar can be enjoyed during the second week of August, when the ''city on water'' comes alive with the Stockholm Water Festival.

The annual event began only a few years ago, but has established itself as a major attraction for tourists.

with 1.2 million visitors last year.