Things to do in Harrogate

How To Hygge//an evening with Signe Johansen

You can’t have failed to notice all the publicity around the concept of ‘hygge’ at the moment. The Danish word, pronounced hoo-gah, describes a feeling of cosiness, warmth and conviviality.

There are a number of books on the subject, however one in particular caught our eye. How To Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living is written by Scandi chef Signe Johansen. It features recipes and beautiful photography along with inspiring ideas for living well and has quickly become a favourite. When we heard she was going to be doing a talk in Harrogate we were first in line for tickets.

 The event was held at Harrogate Theatre and was hosted by Balterzen’s, a Nordic cafe in Harrogate with an excellent evening restaurant, Norse. On arrival we were welcomed by an array of Nordic pastries, steaming pots of coffee and a large tray of cinnamon buns.There were also stalls from other Scandi-inspired companies; Hesper Farm Skyr served up pots of delicious yoghurt topped with a spiced orange and rhubarb compote, whilst Leeds-based lifestyle store Enkelhed showcased an array of stylish homewares.


After a happy hour sampling the food and drinks we were shown through to the main theatre for an interview with Signe. 

Signe grew up in Norway and explained that the word hygge is also used there and constitutes a big part of the culture. 

She started by stating the importance of food saying ‘we are just a greedy family and all love food’, sounds familiar!

She went on to share stories of her childhood in Norway, her life as a chef and her experience of living in the UK. 

Signe explained her inspiration for the book, discussing the various aspects of creating hygge, from getting outdoors, to baking and making sure you have a beautiful home to come back to. 

She described how one of her favourite things about living in the UK was being able to attend lots of different festivals and literature events, feeling that her ‘brain had been nourished’. Well that’s exactly how I felt after listening to her talk. 

She ended the interview by discussing the importance of kinship and accepting others, giving a favourite quote from Maya Angelou: 

‘Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’. 

Not a bad motto to live by!

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