Sagobygden’s Music and Storytelling Festival (formerly known as Ljungby Storytelling Festival), founded in 1990, is the oldest annual storytelling festival in the Nordic countries. During the 4-day affair, 50 storytellers from all over the world are invited to come and tell their best stories – old or new. The festival takes place in Sagobygden, a region in Sweden made up of the 3 municipalities of Ljungby, Alvesta, and Älmhult, and is visited by 600-1000 persons on average. Based on a different theme every year, it is organized by The Storytelling Network of Kronoberg which strives to ensure the transmission of folktales and legends and promote and preserve the oral storytelling tradition. The non-profit organization also runs The Museum of Legends which is designed to give visitors a glimpse into the ICH of south Sweden.
The storytelling network comprises members interested in storytelling from all the Nordic countries, of which about 250 are from Sweden. The festival program consists of workshops and performances in storytelling and music. Additionally, the Mickel prize, named after a storyteller who was an important source for many of the stories told in the area during the 19th century, is awarded to an individual who strives to preserve the storytelling tradition. During the rest of the year, the museum hosts a variety of educational activities, performances, lectures, and university courses catering to audiences of diverse age groups.
Along with the Institute for Language and Folklore, they carry out the work of preservation, documentation, transfer of knowledge, training, research, and practice of oral traditions and expressions within the framework of the 2003 ICH Convention.
© copyright of the photographs belongs to Tine Winther, Director of Storytelling Network of Kronoberg. Use without the author’s permission is forbidden.
The activities of The Storytelling Network of Kronoberg hope to
- Spread the knowledge of local folktales and legends
- Highlight people’s own stories in today’s society
- Listen and be part of the story
“Make local people take pride in the place they come from so that they will talk about it when they leave and show others the place when they come back.” – Tine Winther (Director, Sagobygden / The Land of Legends)
The work of the organization is supported by the landscape of the region – there are 43 cabinets in the surrounding nature where people can experience special places, and hear and meet stories aiming to explain “who we are” and “why we are the way we are”. An attempt to make traditional legends relevant for people in the present day and highlight the cross-cultural parallels in stories from different parts of the world is also made.
Challenges in developing sustainable ICH Tourism
While activities such as geocaching make the landscape come alive and highly attractive for tourists traveling to the region, since the Covid-19 pandemic, the museum has seen a third of the usual visitor numbers. A facilitator or mediator is needed to smoothen communication between different parties and the need for local cooperation to a greater extent and a broader level than today is felt. Moreover, funding remains a problem as the 3 municipalities and regions contribute 30%, while the other 70% of their budget comes from the work they do. Lastly, obtaining feedback from visitors via surveys has not brought much response in the past.
Sagobygden is on the way to gaining funding for the sustainable and comprehensive development of the “Land of Legends” as a tourist destination.