Taking place on the first February weekend of every year, Jokkmokk Market is a cultural fest of Sámi food and culinary heritage in northern Europe’s Indigenous heartland. Since 1606, Sámi Indigenous peoples have gathered in Jokkmokk, a village of around 2,500 people, located in northern Sweden or Sápmi, as the Sámi call their ancestral homeland.
The food and handicrafts market, which also hosts a vibrant range of Sámi cultural activities and performances, is a rich celebration of Sámi culture, tradition, and the Arctic way of life. Despite freezing temperatures of -2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, the event draws thousands of visitors from across Scandinavia and beyond, as well as Sámi peoples who have ancestrally resided in northernmost Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The market can only be described as a multi-sensory spectacle. Sámi artists, donning traditional clothing known for bright colors and intricate patterns, sell their exquisite artwork and duodji (handicrafts). Meanwhile, artisans work the smoke grills, churning out mouth watering northern “street meat” from elk burgers to reindeer kebabs.
Cultural foods are truly at the heart of the Jokkmokk experience. Traditionally, the Sámi were nomadic herders, primarily relying on reindeer for their livelihood. Reindeer herding continues to be an economic activity carried on by Sámi peoples, and is still a central part of their cultural identity and present-day eating traditions.
Sample a range of heritage dishes made using reindeer meat, from the most well-known, suovas (smoked reindeer meat) to bidos (reindeer stew). A wide range of other Arctic tastes are also on offer, from other types of wild game and fish to marmalades made from Arctic cloud and lingonberries, as well as delicacies such as gáhkku (a traditional, soft flatbread that’s a staple of Sámi and northern dining tables).
While indulging in delicious fare, take in a myriad of cultural activities near and dear to Sámi history: storytelling sessions, traditional yoik singing and workshops where you can learn about handicrafts and even try making them yourself.
Know Before You Go
Another market highlight (and also its busiest point) is its reindeer parade, when Arctic animals and sleighs are pulled through the town.