Winter travellers shouldn't miss the annual Sami Winter Market, held the first Thursday through Saturday in February. The oldest and biggest of its kind, it attracts some 30,000 people annually; it’s the biggest sales opportunity of the year for the Sami traders to make contacts and see old friends, while visitors can splurge on the widest array of Sami duodji (handicrafts) in the country and watch the merry chaos of reindeer races on the frozen Talvatissjön lake behind Hotel Jokkmokk.
The event has been going strong since 1605, when King Karl IX decreed that markets should be set up in Lappland to increase taxes, spread Christianity and exert greater control over the nomadic Sami. The Winter Market is preceded by the opening of the smaller Historical Market and several days of folk music, plays, parades, local cinematography, photography exhibitions, food-tasting sessions and talks on different aspects of Sami life – all of which segues into the Winter Market itself. It’s the most exciting (and coldest!) time to be in Jokkmokk, with temperatures as low as -40°C, so wrap up warm!