The Leisure Exhibition 1936 - a milestone in the history of Ystad

Ystad put leisure on the map

In 1936 a leisure exhibition was organised in Ystad for the first time in Sweden and made international news – a lot has happened since then!

In Sweden in the 1930s, leisure was not a word in common use, particularly amongst blue collar workers and their wives who had little or no spare time. When industrialisation swept over Sweden and the factories organised fixed working hours and legislated holidays and other social reforms were introduced, the working class suddenly had time to spare – this had to be well spent! That was the key to the exhibition in Ystad.
Poster from the exhibition It was the farsighted newspaper editor Elias Nilsson and a few politicians that set the ball rolling and on 19 June 1936 the ex-hibition was formally opened. The exhibition covered a whole district that stretched from the Ystad Art Gallery to the sports centre, Bollen. 1528 ways of getting the best out of spare time were described – it was here that an overview of what adult education could offer. The cornerstones were libraries, museums, lecture societies and study circles. There were pavilions for travellers and weekend dwellings.


The word ‘hobby’ was introduced and explained, There were pavilions for athletics, it was that summer that the Olympics were held in Berlin. One pavilion was dedicated to women and the home. By organising housework women could get more free time! The popular agricultural show drew record crowds. There was a cinema, the Gröna Lund fairground, a dance hall, where Bob Larney’s band played every evening, and a number of restaurants.

All this made the hot, sunny summer of 1936 a memorable one in Ystad. Almost a quarter of a million people had visited the show when it ended on 23 August.

Poster from the exhibition
Publicerad 2011-11-09, Uppdaterad 2020-11-04