Festivals and Events in Copenhagen
Find out about the main festivals and events taking place in Copenhagen throughout the year...
Copenhagen has a full calendar of festivals throughout the year, including religious festivals, music festivals and a number of international trade shows. Below is information about the principal events on the annual calendar, with a description of events and links to their websites where available.
Traditional Festivals in Copenhagen
Epiphany: The evening of 5 January is often celebrated with a candle-lit procession to mark the end of Christmas.
Shrovetide (February or March): Forty days before Easter, Shrovetide sees children dressing up and going door-to-door singing and collecting money. Homes may be decorated with Shrovetide rods, which are birch branches decorated with sweets and presents. These were originally considered fertility symbols, the branch representing the budding spring. Another Shrovetide tradition is for children to hit a suspended barrel full of sweets with clubs (known as tilting at the cat in the barrel); the child who knocks a hole in the barrel is chosen as the King or Queen of Cats.
Walpurgis Night - Valborgsnat (30 April): Named after the English saint, Walburga, who was believed to protect against magic and witchcraft, this festival celebrates the arrival of summer with the lighting of bonfires and maypole-dancing.
Great Prayer Day - Store Bededag (April/May): Danish festival taking place on the fourth Friday after Easter Sunday. It is celebrated by eating hot wheat buns, and walking around the harbour Langelinie, on the ramparts around Christianshavn or in Kastellet (The Citadel), where the student choir sings.
Liberation Day (5 May): After five years of German occupation during the Second World War, Denmark became free again on 5 May 1945. When the liberation was announced on the evening of 4 May, many people spontaneously placed lit candles in their windows, a custom which is still maintained.
Pentecost/Whitsun (May/June): Church festival celebrated to mark the advent of the Holy Spirit, and the awakening of nature at Whitsun. Pentecost falls 50 days after Easter, and since the mid-19th century, the custom is either to stay up after the festivities on Whit Saturday, or to get up early to see the sunrise and enjoy the morning sun. Whitsun is often celebrated by picnicking in the woods or other family outings. There is a Whitsun Carnival in Copenhagen, where costumed carnival groups dance through the city and gather in one of the city's parks.
St John's Eve (23 June): Celebration taking place on the evening before Midsummer Day, which is the birthday of John the Baptist. Despite the summer solstice being on 21 June, St John's Eve is regarded as the actual Midsummer Eve and shortest night of the year. According to popular belief, it was charged with special powers where evil forces were at work, so to keep them away, bonfires were lit on high ground, and witches placed on top. Today the evening is celebrated by dinner with family and friends, followed by a bonfire party, and the singing of Holger Drachmann's Midsommervise, or Midsummer Song.
Lucia Day (13 December): A custom of Swedish origin, Lucia Day is celebrated all over Denmark in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and day-care institutions, by a procession of girls dressed in white, singing the Santa Lucia song. They are headed by the Lucia Bride, who carries a wreath with candles.
The month of December is dominated by Christmas, when streets are decorated with fir garlands and lights. In squares and gardens Christmas trees are decorated with fairy lights, and most Danish homes light a calendar candle every day, as well as an Advent wreath on the last four Sundays before Christmas.
Major Events in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Puppet Festival/Puppet Junior (March): Aimed at adults and promoting international puppet theatre, the Copenhagen Puppet Festival is a biannual festival held in uneven years, based in Vesterbro in Copenhagen. By contrast, the Puppet Junior Festival presents Danish puppet theatre and is aimed at children and families. It takes place all over Copenhagen and is held during even years.
Copenhagen Sakura Festival (April): Annual festival and celebration of Japan, with Japanese dance, food and music, exhibitions of Japanese gardens, sumo wrestling displays, tea ceremonies, lion dances, and more.
Copenhagen Beer Festival (May): A three-day festival providing an opportunity to try existing and new products from Denmark's well-established national and international breweries.
Copenhagen Photo Festival (June): An international platform for contemporary photography in Denmark, featuring the works of hundreds of international and contemporary photographers.
Start! Festival (June): Major music festival showcasing new and emerging talent from Denmark, located in the heart of Copenhagen at Halmtorvet in Vesterbro.
Roskilde Festival (July): Denmark's largest culture and music festival, with over 100,000 visitors each year and featuring international rock, dance and alternative bands.
Copenhagen Jazz Festival (July): Including local and international jazz musicians, and with a programme of jazz music for kids. Events take place in the streets and squares of Copenhagen as well as in historic buildings. Most performances and concerts are free of charge.
Copenhagen International Fashion Fair - CIFF (August): A celebration of fashion, including women's, men's and children's fashions, with shows, events and exhibitions by emerging and established designers.
CPH Vision/Terminal 2 (August): Showcasing the best contemporary brands of women's wear, focusing on Scandinavian design, fashion and up-and-coming designers.
Beatday (August): Music festival organised by Beatbox concert promoters, taking place at ValbyParken in Copenhagen.
Roskilde Airshow (August): A two-day display of military aeroplanes, business and civil planes, helicopters, vintage aircraft, parachuting displays and pleasure flights.
Copenhagen Jewellery Fair (August): An international trade event dedicated to fashion jewellery and accessories.
Copenhagen Design Week (September): An international initiative from the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, directed by Danish Design Centre. The event is dedicated to architecture, furniture and interiors and includes conferences, exhibitions, talks and guided tours.
Copenhagen Blues Festival (September): Danish and international acts playing at a number of venues and clubs in the city. The festival features both traditional and new blues expressions with a line-up of both renowned blues musicians and new talent.
Healthy Lifestyle Show (September/October): Trade show open to the public, promoting health and fitness, alternative therapies and environmentally-friendly products.
Copenhagen Night of Culture (October): An annual cultural celebration, with around 500 events, exhibitions and performances held in museums, churches, official buildings and squares throughout Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Irish Festival (November): Featuring emerging musicians as well as legends within traditional Irish music, with concerts, Irish dancing and open jam sessions. The festival also hosts an art exhibition, talks, workshops and films.
New World Latin Festival (November): Featuring some of the biggest names in Cuban music, reggae and salsa. The festival also features Latin American films, exhibitions and typical food and drink. It is held at Copenhagen's Amager Bio.