Ålesund — is the best place to celebrate Summer Solstice
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. Following old traditions, Norwegians, light large bonfires which were believed to increase the lands’ fertility
A time for magic and mystery.
Huge bonfires are lit to ward off evil witches, who went out to gather herbs for poison. These days were often interpreted as a prediction of the weather and crop situation in the following autumn. Herbs and hay harvested on Midsummer’s Night were regarded as special plants with magical traits.
During Medieval ages, people believed that witches and other supernatural elements were abnormally strong on Midsummer’s Eve since the sun turns that day. People gathered herbs and made a bonfire to keep the witches away. This was the origin of the Midsummer’s Eve bonfire.
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, a 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.
Guinness World Record
The largest bonfire, known as Slinningsbålet, is usually set on the island Hessa in Ålesund, a picturesque Art Nouveau town in the county Møre og Romsdal, Norway. This tradition dates back 150 years.
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 the safe distance sitting in their boats or from the shore.
Back in 2010 Alesund set a world record for hosting the tallest bonfire, 40.45 meters.