Denmark’s Sankt Hans bonfires face cancellation due to dry weather

Bans on open fires in several Danish municipalities have been lifted after recent showers, but remain in place in many other areas.

Denmark’s Sankt Hans bonfires face cancellation due to dry weather
A Sankt Hans bonfire ready to be lit at Bredetved near Holbæk. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Ten municipalities in Jutland and one on the island of Funen lifted bans on Monday and Tuesday, Ritzau reports.

The news comes as relief for many Danes hoping to celebrate Sankt Hans Night, the bonfire tradition that marks the shortest night of the year.

READ ALSO: Denmark's Sankt Hans Aften explained: Witches and rain

But partial or complete bans on fires are still in place in 59 other municipalities across the country.

Denmark has seen unusually hot and dry weather over recent weeks, stretching well back into May, which broke a number of records due to its many warm and sunny days.

Despite restrictions being lifted in some areas, caution will still be required as bonfires are lit on Saturday night, said the head of Denmark’s Fire Service.

“Even if you are not in an area with a ban, it is necessary to display great caution,” Bjarne Nigaard told Ritzau.

“You must take account of the wind, weather and surroundings. If there is the smallest risk of embers from the fire floating with the wind towards the nearest vegetation, you should refrain from lighting the fire,” Nigaard said.

The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) notes that several parts of the country, particularly on the islands of Zealand and Bornholm, remain dry.

Weather forecasts between now and Saturday will be closely watch be local authorities, Nigaard said.

“If we run into a weather situation where it looks like a lot of rain in coming days, the situation may change in some of the municipalities that still have bans in place,” he said.

“We are keeping our eye on the situation hour to hour. We have no interest in maintaining a [ban] if it can be lifted,” he said.

DMI’s forecast for the coming weekend predicts a mixture of showers, rain and sun.

The bonfire ban also means that the traditional bonfire at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Marienborg has been cancelled, the Primie Minister’s Office has confirmed.

The municipalities that have lifted their open fire bans are, at the time of writing: Billund, Esbjerg, Fanø, Fredericia, Kolding, Middelfart, Varde, Vejen, Vejle, Viborg and Silkeborg.

READ ALSO: Let the sunshine in: May weather breaks Denmark records


How much will it snow in Denmark this weekend?

Winter weather arrived in spectacular fashion to coincide with the beginning of December this week. The weekend could bring more snow to parts of the country but probably less disruption than recent days.

Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December.
Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Recent snowstorms disrupted North Jutland in particular and Denmark in general, and more cold weather can be expected this weekend albeit severe, according to forecasts.

“We won’t see the Ragnarok-like weather we’ve seen in some places recently again this weekend, but it’s now winter weather and it has also snowed in several places overnight,” said meteorologist Frank Nielsen of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Early December blizzards disrupt Denmark

Cold weather on Friday and a low front across the North Sea will bring clouds and precipitation across Denmark from the west, Nielsen said.

That will materialise as cold rain or sleet in many areas but probably snow in North Jutland, he said.

“There could be between five and ten centimetres of snow north of the Limfjord,” the meteorologist said, referring to the waterway that cuts across the northern part of Jutland, including main regional city Aalborg.

“In the southern part of the country, an equivalent five to ten centimetres of rain could fall,” he added.

Friday’s temperature will be between freezing point and five degrees Celsius, with the north of the country falling in to the lower end of that range and the south the warmer end.

Mist and fog is forecast this evening, caused by various weather fronts moving over Denmark.

That could still be felt on Saturday morning, though it is likely to be a little warmer at 2-6 degrees Celsius. Mild winds could make that fell chiller, but snow is unlikely.

Sunday will see the temperature drop again, to 0-4 degrees Celsisu. Snow is possible, particularly on eastern coasts.

Strong winds in the east of the country and along the coasts will result in a “rather cold 24 hours,” Nielsen said.

Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below zero throughout the weekend. Motorists are therefore warned to be alert to icy road surfaces.