Goddag. Hallå. Hei. Tere. Hei. Sveiki. Hello! The Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Estonian, Finnish and Latvian communities hosted Brisbane’s annual Scandinavian Festival on a glorious blustery blue September weekend.
There was plenty of music with Nordic songs from Kupaleja, the vocal and instrumental duo of Wendy and Zannah, the Scandinavian Group singers and Steinar Johansen’s accordion. The Baltic Choir sang Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian songs, and Timo & the Fiddle group and Finntune’s all male Finnish singing group sang Finnish songs, while the Grimhild Band entertained with their unique experimental symphonic play list of Faroe Island, Finnish and Nordic songs.
The Heimdal Danish folk dancers and Latvian Community Folk Band looked quintessentially Scandinavian in their colourful traditional dresses and head crowns or flower wreaths.
Audience participation was both encouraged and enforced. Sitting near the stage meant the Latvians might be coming for you! But it wasn’t all traditional kokle (a traditional stringed instrument) music. Finnish Radio 4EB obliged with a minute or two of music blasted from their stall in the corner of the food alley every now and again, just to remind visitors of Finland’s love affair with heavy metal music. All in fun of course.
There was plenty of delicious food and drink to keep everyone energised. The lines were long but worth the wait. Norwegian waffles, Swedish cinnamon buns, Estonian treats, Finnish pulla (cinnamon bread) and Karjalan piiraka (rye flour Karelian pie with egg filling), Swedish baked potatoes and meat balls, Latvian pirāgi (meat or vegetable pastries), Danish risalamande (rice pudding with cherry sauce), ‘Scandi-themed’ food like the Viking burgers, as well as gelato, organic iced teas, fried calamari and spiralled deep fried potato. Too much to list. And coffee … and beer, Danish, Finnish, Latvian … No one was going away hungry.
Of course what Scandinavian Festival would be complete without Vikings, and the Viking Saga group obliged with their reenactors providing the tents, handicrafts and Rune Readings. For those with more modern tastes, there was the temptation of some great Scandinavian design, with Kaja Clothing’s natural fibres women’s range (we rummaged unashamedly through her bargains in the samples boxes), the striking chic rainwear from wholesaler Amake (who import labels BLÆST from Norway and Dea Kudibal from Denmark), and bright, fun fashion for kids at Baby Goes Retro and adorable handmade Baby J Inspirations. Or maybe just something little from Leah Jewellery Nordic Fusion or some small prints from Artist Annika Malmkvist.
All too much? Then maybe some quiet time listening to speakers presenting Scandinavian culture; or a session of relaxing ‘chair yoga’ run by Teneriffe Yoga; or trying your hand at making a flower wreath to wear; or just getting up close to a vintage motor bike.
The little ones weren’t forgotten, with a tent of Denmark’s perhaps most famous export, Lego, ready with some hands-on fun. For the more energetic, a mini hockey field helped burn off some of the sugar donuts and Danish æbleskiver (pancake balls).
Just in case this taste of Scandinavia triggered a need to try reindeer meatballs and chase the Northern Lights, or you were just homesick, travel agents from FinnAir and 50 Degrees North were on hand.
And who would want to leave without making a flower crown?
So, as the Danes say, Hej, or the Swedes Hejdå, or the Norwegians, Ha det bra, or the Estonians, Nägemist, or the Latvians, Uz redzēšanos, or the Finns Hei Hei … goodbye … see you next year.
If you would like to contact or follow some of the Scandinavian clubs, fashion designers, artists or travel specialists:
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.
Reader of romance and science fiction. Practicing cat-herder. Frequently succumbs to the need to write. Rarely succumbs to the need to vacuum.
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