The weather has not shown the summer spirit lately. Yet, according to tradition, the real Danish summer doesn't begin until St. Hans Eve on 23 June - in other words this Saturday.
St. Hans Eve has been celebrated ever since the time of the Vikings. At that time, people were travelling around to visit healing water wells and building large bonfires to ward away evil spirits. Today, the bonfires are still lit, but the celebration is mostly about enjoying the longest day in the year with beer and hygge.
Although an unofficial holiday since 1770, St. Hans is the ultimate summer celebration in Denmark. University Post has picked out a range of events where you can join the summer fun.
Herbs and witches
Sankt Hans Eve is originally an old Christian tradition celebrating John the Baptist (in Danish, Johannes Døberen - shortened to Sankt Hans). However, due to old popular belief that the 'doctors', witches and other medicinal wise-men and women spent St. Hans Eve collecting herbs that would be used for the rest of the year, a bonfire tradition was started.
So why the bonfire? It was believed that it would scare away the witches on their way to Bloksbjerg, also known as the mountain 'Brocken' in the Harz region of Germany. According to tradition the witches gathered on Bloksberg on Sankt Hans night to have their own party.
Nowadays bonfires are still lit - often at sea. Sometimes with a fake witch made of straw and cloth in referrence to the old days. Witches or not, the bottom line is that on Saturday 23 June you should find a bonfire to feast by.
Where to go?
No matter where you live in Copenhagen, there will be bonfires – and perhaps burning witches - near your home. So take your pick, sing along and celebrate the longest day of the year in the old Viking way!
The multicultural part of the city will celebrate St.Hans in lively Blågårds Plads, which will naturally attract a wide range of entertainment. Concerts, samba, a communal kitchen, singing and, of course, the bonfire will bring the diverse neighbourhood together. The children’s activities start at 16.30 and the open grill at 17.30. The bonfire lights up at 22.00. Need to know more? Click here for more info.
In Frederiksberg Have, all ages are welcome. With over 50 years of bonfire celebrations in the garden, they are preparing a big event. Choir, circus, live pop acts and a speech by Danish politician Bertel Haarder will be on offer. It all starts at 18.30, and the bonfire is lit at 21.40. Here is the link with the invitation.
Tivoli gardens carry the traditions on and promise a night with bonfires, witches and song. There will be live swing music, and singing by the famous DR (Danmarks Radio, ed.) choirs. Read the festive program here!
If you are on a tighter budget, visit the touristy harbour of Nyhavn for free which will be packed on Saturday. It all starts at 14.00 and continues till late at night at the many harbour restaurants. There will be live musical performances and speeches by Danish politicians. Find the complete program here.
Amager - Beach:
Prefer a beach party? The long, sandy beach of Amager is offering an astounding selection of seven different parties on Saturday! The themes range from communist to conservative and from LGBT to minimal electronic raves. The parties start between 12.00 and 19.00 and all end around midnight. Besides the parties there will be a beach volleyball event from 9.00 - 23.00 and open-air wedding ceremonies from 10.00 - 14.00. Check for updates here.
Docken, the marina by Nordhavn, invites all students from universities in and around Copenhagen to Jammed Academix - a huge party arranged by Jammed Sounds. There will be live music, DJs, sand and sea-side views. Read University Post's preview of the party here.
If you are going for a completely alternative experience try the COMA (Copenhagen Offers More Action) party cruise. This cruise will sail from Nyhavn (Havnegade 44) at 20.00 and will pass by sea the many bonfires of Copenhagen. The music will be provided by Danish DJ Kenneth Bager and guests are encouraged to dress up in crazy costumes. COMA parties are notorious in Copenhagen for offering the wildest experiences. Tickes can be bought by calling 5123 7374. Read more and see video from the last cruise here.
Have a bewitching evening!
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