Danish traditions: Here’s how we celebrate “Sankt Hans”

by Ida Marie Middelhede
Photo: Simone Kjølby Christensen
Photo: Simone Kjølby Christensen

On June 23rd, we celebrate Sankt Hans (Saint John’s Eve) in Denmark.

Sankt Hans is known for its festivities and midsummer bonfires.

This event is especially a good experience, for getting to know Danish culture, or just to have a good experience with your loved ones.

There are several locations in Aalborg where you can join the event.

Sant Hans festivities

Here is an overview of the Sankt Hans festivities in Aalborg, with each location having their own program.

Musikkens Plads

If you want to attend the Sankt Hans festivities in Musikkens Plads, you can expect to celebrate the evening with singing and music.

There will be concerts performed by BELLAMI, girl choirs and then there will be a speech presented by Flemming Møller Mortensen.

It will be possible to pre-order tapas from restaurant Fauna. The event is for free, starts at 17:30h and everyone can attend.

Stigsborg Brygge

The location’s debut just last year was a success, so this year you can experience Sankt Hans again with a view over the Limfjord.

The Sankt Hans festivity by Stigsborg offers a family-friendly program organised by two local sports clubs, with plenty of play and cozy time, and a speech by the city’s mayor Lasse Frimand Jensen.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event for free, which starts at 16:00h.

Aalborg Zoo

Sankt Hans in Aalborg ZOO is for children of every age.

The Sankt Hans festivity offers a lot of activities with music, singing and dancing, where Arne Alligator also will attend.

In Aalborg Zoo there will be no bonfire, but instead the children can blow soap bubbles.

The event is free for everyone who has paid admission for Zoo, or has an annual ticket It starts at 16:00h.

Mølleparken

Mølleparken is probably the location with the biggest celebrations of Sankt Hans, at the very top of Aalborg.

The event begins at 18:00h, and it will have a speech, live music and collective dancing.

With a view over the city you will be able to enjoy your own food or buy it at the stands located there, thus supporting the Lions Hasseris association, which works with social and humanitarian causes.

Lindholm Høje

Next to the Viking Museum and surrounded by nature, at Lindholm Høje, there will also be festivities with a speech with an historical angle given by writer and historian Poul Duedahl.

Later there will be a talk with Poul Duedahl, and writer and debater Johannes Andersen.

The festivities are free to everyone from 15:00h, but the debate between the writers requires a ticket that can be purchased at ord-kraft.dk.

Visitors can purchase food at the Café Lindholm, though it requires a beforehand booking, or have a picnic on the grass around the museum.

Click here for a overview of the Sankt Hans programs in Aalborg.

The story behind the tradition

Sankt Hans, or Saint John’s Eve, is a Danish tradition that celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist, known in Danish as Sankt Hans.

In the days leading up to Sankt Hans, people build bonfires that are lit on the evening of June 23rd.

Traditionally, these bonfires featured a straw witch, a practice that has since fallen out of favor due to its origins in the witch persecutions that swept across Europe in the 17th century.

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