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Join the Danish witch craze

Danish tradition: This Wednesday night 23 June is St. Hans. This means burning an effigy of a witch on a bonfire

You know it is summer in Denmark when it is time for St. Hans Eve.

Every year since the time of the Vikings, St. Hans Eve has been celebrated. The main events at that time were visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Nowadays, there are no healing water wells left to visit.

Although not an official holiday since 1770, St. Hans is the ultimate summer celebration.

Herbs and witches

Gather your friends to celebrate that on St. Hans, the ‘doctors’ – medicinal wise men and women – used to collect certain herbs for the rest of the year.

Nowadays a fake witch made of straw and cloth is burned on the bonfire. The witch is a reference to the witch-burning craze of the 16th-17th century, which was particularly bad in Denmark.

The bonfire sends her back to Bloksbjerg, also known as the mountain ‘Brocken’ in the Harz region of Germany. Here the witches gather and have their own party.

Where to go?

All this means that this Wednesday 23 June, you should find a bonfire to stand by, sing along, and enjoy the barbeque the old Viking way

Even if you are picky, there are several in Copenhagen or near Copenhagen to choose from:

This is the big multicultural event for St. Hans. The lively Blågårds Plads is definitely the place to be if you are into a wide selection of barbeques and people: Choose your barbeque to be halal, haram, or vegetarian. The programme starts at 16.00, barbeque at 18.00, bonfire at 22.00. Need to know more? Find it here

Frederiksberg Gardens:
Frederiksberg Have (Gardens) offers a child-friendly event with a huge bonfire in beautiful surroundings. There will be entertainment from 19.00, bonfire at 21.30. Also, the Minister of Culture, Per Stig Møller is holding a speech. More info here .

If you are the rock’n’roll-kind, try a private picnic inFælledparken. You can also have a barbeque from 18.00, music at 20.00 and bonfire from ten in the evening.

Or experience the traditional bonfire with a ‘witch’ inside at Tivoli from 21.30. After 22.30, an illumination show is held. Read more here.

At Nyhavn, chill out with jazz and barbeque from 16.00 and hear the speech of mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen at 22.00. Visit the homepage of Nyhavn.

At Docken, there is funky music for funky people. Music, food,and of course the bonfire. Performance by Funkwizz, Al Agami og Niels HP.

For more info go here.

Gather with the politicians and listen to the speech by prime minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen. The beautiful building is owned by the government, and is situated between Bagsværd lake and Lyngby lake.

Want to go? Follow this link.

Amager – Beach:
Bring your swimgear to Amager Standpark for skateboard performances and party with the organisation for homosexuals, transsexuals and bisexuals, Copenhagen Pride. The party is everywhere along the beach.

Are you a beach-person? click here.


For those going all the way, you should learn the midsommervise (Midsummer hymn) “Vi elsker vort land…” (“We Love Our Country”). It was composed by Holger Drachmann and P. E. Lange-Müller in 1885, and sung at every bonfire on this evening.

Have a bewitched evening!

Sources: Wikipedia and AOK.