Sportlov – what is the winter break in Sweden like?

Today I started winter break at school. It’s called sportlov in Sweden. Therefore, I decided to describe what this break from studying looks like in Swedish schools. And there is something to write about, because both the history of this custom and the way it is organized are interesting.

The term sportlov in Sweden

Contrary to Poland, winter break in Sweden last only one week. It might seem short. However, you need to know that in the Swedish school year, breaks are more frequent than in the Polish one – but they differ in length.

Sportlov takes place every year between the 7th and 11th week of the year. The most common date is week 8. (we are in it when I write this post). During this time, winter break are experienced by 37% of the population. Each week in that range, different regions have a break, and week 8th is the term for the most densely populated regions.

The entire schedule is as follows:

  • Week 7: Göteborg, Kungsbacka, Sjuhärad, Skaraborg, Jönköping, Ydre
  • Week 8: Uppsala (except Älvkarleby), Skåne, Södermanlands (except Gnesta), Östergötland (except Ydre), Halland (except Kungsbacka), Blekinge, Kalmar, Kronoberg, Fyrbodal, Örebro,
  • Week 9: Sztokholm, Dalarna (except Idre), Gästrikland, southern Hälsingland, Västmanland, Värmland, Gnesta, Älvkarleby, Gotland
  • Week 10: Västerbotten, Norrbotten, northern Hälsingland, Västernorrland, Jämtland, Idre
  • Week 11: Jokkmokk

Where does sportlov come from?

The history of sportlov is interesting because it dates back to 1940, when the Bränslekommissionen (Swedish Fuel Commission – my free translation) introduced the so-called “fuel holiday”. They were aimed at saving on heating schools and workplaces, because the coal and coke used for this purpose at that time were regulated in 1939-1945. This forced drastic savings.

In order to keep young people entertained during their days off, the cities organized activities and entertainment. They were mainly related to winter sports. Both in the city itself and with the trips to the Swedish mountains.

In the 1950s, when savings were not the main reason for organizing holidays, a medical argument appeared. In order to prevent the spread of infection during the winter, the practice of organizing sportlov was maintained. At that time, it also began to spread to villages, and by the end of this decade to have a nationwide range.

Activities during sportlov

This is my first winter holiday in Sweden and I am pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of the activities organized. Every day, young people can choose from a number of activities in various fields. Everyone will find something for themselves, regardless of their interests.

Our commune has prepared a special guide in which it presents the offer of activities. It included, among other things, information about the rules of safe skating on frozen water reservoirs (although at this year’s temperatures, no one in our neighbourhood will use this opportunity).

Young people can take part in free ping pong lessons, creative building in Minecraft, free padel lessons (I still don’t know what the rules are, but I plan to try – padel is everywhere in here), fishing together, creating handicrafts (including bracelets or bird feeders), playing with VR, badminton and many more activities. Trips to neighboring larger cities are also organized, for example to the trampoline park – the trip includes transport by the communal bus and a few hours of fun.

I admit that looking at the sports activity offer, I feel a little jealous of Swedish schoolchildren. Our holidays, although they lasted two weeks, were often not very interesting. Parents had to take care of entertainment, as in many cases they did not have the opportunity to take a leave at that time or paid activities exceeded the home budget.

Under the button below I drop off the sportlov 2022 program in my municipality – if you want, you can read what is included in the schedule (document in Swedish).


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