Best time to go to Norway

Sankthans 2024

Huge bonfires are lit to ward off evil witches while Norwegians are getting married for fun during the midnight sun

Dates: June 22–June 24

Sankthans
Sankthans
Sankthans

Sankt Hans or Jonsok, translated as "John's wake," is actually a Christian celebration with pagan origins held during Midsummer. In the 19th century, Roman Catholics went on pilgrimages on the Midsummer Eve. Nowadays, the festival is more secular than religious.

Sankt Hans Traditions

Following old traditions, Norwegians light large bonfires which were believed to increase the lands' fertility as well as scare off witches who went out to gather herbs for poison. Girls gather seven different flowers and put them under the pillow in order to see their future husbands in a dream.

Western Norway has also preserved the tradition of mock weddings, which are organized for children and adults and symbolize the birth of new life. But in general modern celebration is, first of all, another occasion for families and friends to gather out for a picnic, spend a joyful night close to nature, and enjoy the midnight sun.

Slinningsbålet or Ålesund Bonfire (June 22, 2024)

Ålesund Bonfire, known as Slinningsbålet, is the largest bonfire in Norway and is usually set on a man-made island in Ålesund, a picturesque art nouveau town on the west coast of the country. Every June, the adventurous ones come and stack hundreds of wooden pallets in the shape of a spire reaching 40 m into the sky. The tower is then burnt on the shortest night (June 23) from the top to the bottom. Lots of people enjoy watching it from a safe distance, sitting in their boats or from the shore. Back in 2016, Alesund set a world record for hosting the tallest bonfire, 155 feet (47 meters).

The bonfire is usually set up months prior by the locals and lights up at around 9 pm. But there's no need to worry if you miss the beginning of the spectacle because the bonfire burns late into the night, thanks to its massive scale.

Tønnebålet på Laksevåg in Bergen (June 23, 2024)

Nestled between mountain peaks and fjords, Bergen holds a magnificent Sankthans celebration in the borough of Laksevåg. Local enthusiasts come together to build one of the country's biggest barrel bonfires, which consists of hundreds of barrels and requires tremendous effort. Because this is a community event, you'll have a chance to participate in raffles, dance to live music, and games, and grab a drink or two from the food stalls. The festivities begin at 5 pm and last until midnight. The great bonfire burning takes place at 9 pm at the Kirkebukten Bay in Laksevåg.

Sankthans Midsummer Festival in Oslo (June 23, 2024)

The capital of Norway also welcomes you to celebrate the summer solstice on June 23rd with the energetic music festival at the Norwegian Folk Museum. Although bonfire burning is not included in the program, you'll have a chance to hear some of the best folk and indie music in the region, including Polkabjørn and Kleine Heine, Odd René Andersen, and TØFL. You can also make your own flower wreath, drive in a carriage, dance, play on a willow flue, and enjoy festival foods. The celebration spans from 2 pm to 10 pm and requires a ticket. Children under 17 years old can enter for free.

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