Bonfires of Valborg

Valborgsmässoafton (known as Valborg) welcomes the arrival of spring. This one dates back to the 8th century, and although its roots are pagan—lighting fires to ward off malevolent spirits—it is now celebrated publicly regardless of religious beliefs.

The celebrations start mid-afternoon with choirs singing traditional spring songs, then bonfires are lit all over the city and the day usually ends with fireworks displays.

If you should find yourself in Stockholm on April 30th, head across Djurgårdsbron (Djurgårds Bridge) towards the world’s oldest open-air museum and zoo, Skansen, on the island of Djurgården for the best bonfire in town.

April 30th also happens to be Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf’s birthday, so you can make your way down to the Royal Palace earlier in the day to watch the ceremonial displays in his honor.

The day after Valborg, May 1, is a public holiday—International Worker’s Day or Labor Day—so head over to Humlegården (a huge park) in Östermalm, and you may run into some marches. Depending on the weather, concerts and picnics are also held all over town.

read moreread less>