Everything you need to know about a Swedish Crayfish Party!

Aug 15, 2022 by

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Everything you need to know about a Swedish Crayfish Party!

LondonSwedes in partnership with Nordic spirit.*


Every August, Swedes worldwide put on a plastic bib, wear a paper hat and throw a big party to celebrate summer and seafood. Known as Kräftskiva, the Swedish crayfish festival is one of the highlights of the Scandinavian cultural calendar – a time for friends to get together to eat, drink, sing and have a good time. If you’ve never been to a crayfish party before, you’re missing out.  


What is a Swedish Crayfish party? 

Most traditions are based on the religious calendar. Others are deeply rooted in pagan history. But one of Sweden’s most popular and enduring celebrations sprang from a fishing bylaw designed to stop the spread of an aquatic disease.


Beloved by the European aristocracy throughout the 19th century, crayfish once became so popular that they were almost farmed to extinction. Dumped into rivers and seas to drive up the numbers, they quickly became an invasive species and spread a dangerous pest to other marine life, forcing local governments to take action. In Sweden, it became illegal to fish freshwater crustaceans at any time other than late summer, putting an end to the national crayfish craze and putting a start to the national crayfish festival instead. Originally as a way of ringing in the fishing season, the annual party has since grown into a bigger harvest celebration to mark the end of summer.

“I adore the crayfish, although it is a bit of work for quite small food, it is totally worth it.” 


Still the main attraction of any good Kräftskiva, the one thing you can expect at any crayfish festival is… crayfish. Now often imported or bought frozen, locally sourced fresh crayfish are the most sought after (if you have any friends who live near a Swedish lake and know how to night fish, you’re in luck).


“It is by far the best tradition Sweden has, and it is so wonderful to spread it to other countries and cultures as well. Everyone can enjoy this.” 


Scandinavian crayfish are traditionally cooked (alive) in salty brine and served cold with dill seasoning. Although plenty of chefs have developed modern twists on this classic recipe, most Swedes would probably be slightly horrified if they turned up at Kräftskiva and found crayfish curry or crayfish tacos instead of a big old bowl of cold crustaceans to eat with their hands.

 ”Crayfish festival is my annual chance to revisit my Swedish traditions.” 


Swedish Crayfish Festival tips for beginners

Ah yes, eating with your hands. There’s a good reason why everyone wears a plastic bib, and most crayfish parties get pretty messy. Expect to see fish juice splattered everywhere and to hear the sound of noisy slurping as guests suck the best bits out of all the claws. The crayfish bowl is a communal table centrepiece, and everyone is expected to dig in with their hands – using toasted white bread to mop up any juices that haven’t ended up all over their clothes.


If you’ve never eaten a crayfish, turn it upside down and slurp the brine off first. Then pull the tail off with your hands and use a knife to get at the meat before going for the crayfish butter paste found behind the head. Claws need to be cracked and poked at with special cutlery, but fingers should do the trick too if you’re not fussy.


And it’s not just crayfish on the menu either. Big blocks of mature Västerbotten cheese are usually served up alongside the seafood along with salads, tarts, crispbreads and other delicious cold buffet foods. Vegan and vegetarian options are often included too, with dishes like brined tofu, quiche and artichoke served up for those who don’t eat fish. Sweden is a very vegan-friendly country in general.

“The best part is the sing-a-long, the whole crowd comes alive.” 


At some point in every good crayfish festival, the singing starts. A favourite to get the party started is Helan Går. It’s okay if you don’t know the tune, but it’s important to try and join in anyway. Games, dancing and songs are a big part of the whole night – with one classic  (Till Kräftklon, ‘to the crayfish claw’) is written just for crayfish parties, and Helan Går is so popular in Sweden that the national ice hockey team once sang it when they won the World Championships because they knew the words better than the national anthem.


Food is a big part of Kräftskiva, but the most important thing is that everyone has a good time. A great place to meet new people and make new friends, crayfish parties are one of Sweden’s best annual traditions, now celebrated all over the world – wherever you find Swedes, seafood and a good bottle of snaps.

LONDONSWEDES CRAYFISH FESTIVAL 2022 in partnership with Nordic Spirit

We are so excited to be teaming up with our partners Nordic Spirit* once again for two events on Saturday the 17th of September!

Come and celebrate the end of summer 2022 with a Swedish Crayfish party!

We have exclusively hired a large, bright and central venue – 1 Lombard street, where we held last year’s successful events.

For those of you who don’t know what a Crayfish party is, let us just say it’s one of Sweden’s biggest traditions where we celebrate the Swedish Crayfish season* by eating loads of Crayfish, socialising, singing snaps songs, and having fun, all while wearing the traditional Crayfish accessories like the hat and the bibs!

You can get all the information and the tickets here. 

Existing nicotine users can order a free sample* today to make sure you Never Miss a Moment.

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*Nordic Spirit 18+contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance.