Sankt Hans bonfires banned in most of Denmark but could go ahead in Copenhagen

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Sankt Hans bonfires banned in most of Denmark but could go ahead in Copenhagen
Sankt Hans bonfires are banned in large parts of Denmark due to wildfire risk. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s traditional midsummer Sankt Hans celebrations will take place without the customary bonfires in Jutland and on Funen due to wildfire risk.


All municipalities west of the Great Belt – meaning all of Jutland and Funen as well as islands like Langeland and Ærø – will have a ban against either open air fires or against bonfires specifically in place on Sankt Hans Eve this Friday, June 23rd.

The bans were confirmed on Monday to news wire Ritzau by the Danish Emergency Management Agency (Beredskabsstyrelsen, DEMA), the national agency for emergency services including fire services.

Bonfire bans will also be in place in several municipalities east of the Great Belt Bridge, including parts of western Zealand, northeastern town Heslingør and Tisvilde Hegn as well as on Baltic Sea island Bornholm.

The ban covers any Sankt Hans bonfires that could be lit from the morning of June 23rd until the following morning, including bonfires on rafts launched onto lakes and in private gardens, broadcaster DR reports.


As things stand, bonfires could therefore still go ahead in Copenhagen and some parts of Zealand, as well as on eastern islands Lolland, Falster and Møn. In these areas, the size of binfires should bne considered with “common sense” DEMA director for eastern Denmark Rasmus Storgaard told DR.

Storgaard urged the public in areas where Sankt Hans bonfires are still permitted to keep them “smaller and more controllable”.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark celebrate Sankt Hans Aften?

“When all of Denmark simultaneously lights large bonfires, that changes the risk level [for wildfires, ed.]. It is the simultaneity of large bonfires that we need to intervene in,” DEMA head of department Bjarne Nigaard told Ritzau.

Decisions to ban bonfires and other open fires are made by local fire services. A ban on open fires was announced in North Jutland city Aalborg on Friday.

Sankt Hans Aften, when people sing in chorus before lighting a giant bonfire and eating and drinking late into the light summer night, is normally one of the highlights of the Danish calendar.

In addition to bonfires, Danes gather to sing in chorus on June 23rd, with Midsommervisen (“Midsummer’s Song”), also called Vi elsker vort land (“We Love our Country”) the traditional song for the occasion.


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