In 2008, Almedalen Week celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was 40 years since Olof Palme, prime minister at that time, spoke from the back of a lorry at Kruttornet, Almedalen in Visby. The political speeches of the early years have developed into Sweden’s biggest political meeting place which, via democracy and openness, gives everyone who wants to debate social issues the opportunity to take part. The openness and accessibility are unique both for Sweden and for the rest of the world.
During this week, something that many call the Almedalen spirit prevails. The week quite simply has a special atmosphere, to which the time and place have definitely contributed. Almedalen Week is an unusual combination of political summit and openness. However, it is also associated with an informal atmosphere, intimacy, discussion, democracy, manoeuvring, seminars and further education and training.
The parliamentary political parties are at the heart of Almedalen Week. Their participation, with seminars, press conferences and speeches from Almedalen, forms the basis of the event. However, other events are at least as important.
Interest in taking part and/or being a co-organiser has increased exponentially. In 2012, there were 1 818 events in the official program, approximately 900 organisers and an estimated 17 000 persons took part. Audiences at speeches are not included. This is a big increase on 2009, when there were 550 organisers of 1 041 seminars or other events and around 450 accredited journalists. An estimated 7 500 people took part at that time.
For many, the week is a fantastic opportunity to meet others within their own organisation as well as other organisations and also to meet the general public in an uncomplicated and pleasant environment. The participants who return year after year maintain their contacts and make new ones.