By Elizabeth Dacey Swedes hold hard to traditions and the calendar is dotted with beloved, quintessentially Swedish events such as Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis Night) and Luciadagen (Lucia Day); both great opportunities for visitors to dabble in Swedishness.The calendar isn't all age-old tradition, though; there are plenty of events with a more contemporary flavour – for example the Pride celebrations and Re: Orientfestivalen – and the festival scene in Stockholm continues to diversify each year.

The Lutheran Swedes adopted the Sicilian St Lucia because Lucia is connected with lux, the Latin for light.

All over Sweden, a procession of singers, dressed in white, full-length chemises with red ribbons around their waists, are led by a woman dressed as Lucia, with a crown of lit candles on her head.

Modern Swedes flock to summer cottages and Stockholmers set sail for quiet coves in the archipelago to commemorate this festive feast to fertility.

Women and men in traditional dress dance around the flower-decorated maypole.

Look out for Swedish craft products, traditional Christmas ornaments made of straw, hand-dipped candles, sweets (including polkagris, oversized red and white striped peppermint sticks) and Christmas fare such as smoked sausage, eel, salmon, pepparkakor (gingersnaps), glögg (mulled wine) and saffron buns.

Where: around Stcokholm When: 13 Dec Among the best-known of Sweden's festivals, Lucia is celebrated in mid-December, in the heart of the winter darkness.

The first of May has been celebrated in various ways since 1890.

In the early 19th century, May Day was a hugely popular festival in Djurgården park and featured a royal procession.

When: Mar/Apr For many Swedes, Easter's greatest significance is getting a four-day weekend, well timed to polish up the boat, shake the cobwebs off the summer cottage or tidy up the garden.

Still, the painting and eating of eggs is a hallowed tradition at the Easter smörgåsbord, along with salmon and pickled herring prepared in endlessly creative ways.

After the dancing and family games a meal of marinated herring is washed down with spiced aquavit.