The Goose Race


Gåsaloppet participants

The connection with geese is tenuous. The race takes place in the village of Skanör in southern Sweden. Skanör is famous for geese. There is even a goose crossing in the middle of the village, so they decided to call it a goose race. A tenous link with goose or not, this annual race is certainly entertaining. In fact the goose races were invented in the 13th century and then reintroduced in 1984.

Essentially, teams of six Swedes strap themselves on to a couple of wooden planks and then race down the main street in the village of Skanör. The team with the best time wins a painting by the late artist Hans "Gåsamålarn" Andersson (Gåsamålarn means goose painter) and a pair of clogs. Prize or no prize, I must admit being in a team would be fun and my Swedish is just up to "vänster, höger..." (left, right...).

Swedish ingenuity is applied to finding a way of strapping feet on to the planks, the simplest being to fix six old pairs of trainers to the planks.

Vänster, höger, vänster, höger, vänster.....

The next challenge is to find a way of waddling down the street together.  Most teams seem to delegate someone to chant rhythmically, "Vänster, Höger, vänster, höger" (left, right, left, right) whilst providing motivation to achieve a winning time.

Fancy dress

The race must go on...

Swedes believe the sun always shines in the summer. Well nearly always...

The cheats...

Well, it was raining hard.

Blue flowers


The price of blue flowers must rocket in midsummer in Sweden. Blue flowers are everywhere. Table decorations use blue flowers. Women wear blue flowers on Midsummers Day. In the UK I hardly ever see blue flowers in the florists. Perhaps Sweden has monopolised the world' supply. At least with facepaints they add some yellow. Next time you see Sweden playing football on the television look at the crowd, it's better than watching Swedes playing football. Every single football supporter will have their face painted blue and yellow. These things must be regulated in Sweden. I don't even like blue flowers. I don't allow them in my garden. What do Swedish women do if they don't like blue flowers? There's probably an organisation they can contact. Swedes like organisations.

Party time

But you are supposed to complete the race first...

Visiting Skanör

There are a couple of hotels in Skanör itself and a much larger choice in Malmö. Ystad, made famous by the Wallander series, is less than an hour's drive away and is a delightful place to visit for a couple of days. Alternatively, there is a wide choice of houses to let in the region. Midsummer is a national holiday in Sweden so it is important to book accommodation well in advance.

Restaurants in Skanör


Skanör has a couple of excellent restaurants. Gästgifvaregården is the smartest and the most expensive. It has an excellent choice of meat dishes as well as some superb fish. If you are going in midsummer you should check opening hours and if you want a table, reserve it well in advance as midsummer is always very busy.

John Duxbury

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