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What is Sweden doing to celebrate the King’s 50th year on the throne?

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf marks his 50-year jubilee next year, while the nation will mark the 500th anniversary of the year Gustav Vasa ascended to the throne after liberating Sweden from Danish rule. So, how is Sweden celebrating?

What is Sweden doing to celebrate the King's 50th year on the throne?
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrates his birthday with his grandchildren Prince Gabriel, Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Carl XVI Gustaf was only 27 when he became king following the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf in 1973, and he had been Crown Prince since his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash when he was just four years old. 

In 2018, he became Sweden’s longest reigning monarch ever, and he’s currently showing few signs of slowing down. 

Here are the main events planned for 2023 to celebrate his rule. 

January 27th: the Sweden Dinner

Jubilee celebrations will begin shortly after the New Year’s celebration, with a Sverigemiddag, or “Sweden Dinner”, planned in Stockholm at the Kungliga slottet, or Royal Palace, for January 27.

Leaders from each of Sweden’s 21 counties are invited, and those leaders will also select significant people from their counties to “set the tone” (tongivande människor) for the event.

February-September: Tour of Swedish counties

Throughout the year, the King and Queen will travel to all of Sweden’s counties, riding in a horse-drawn carriage wherever possible. These visits will take place between February and September.

June 6th: National Day celebrations

As mentioned above, on June 6, the royal couple will be in Strängnäs to mark the anniversary of the founding of modern Sweden under Gustav Vasa.

After visiting Strängnäs, the King will give a National Day speech at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, which has its own statue of Gustav Vasa, and which will itself be celebrating its 150-year anniversary next year. A National Day reception will also be held at the museum.

September 15th and September 16th: Main jubilee celebrations

September 15, 2023, officially marks 50 years from the day when Carl XVI Gustaf became Sweden’s king. 

A Jubilee dinner with international heads of state and royals will be held that evening in the Rikssalen at the Royal Palace.

The next day, on September 16th, the King and Queen will travel through Stockholm in a Jubilee Cortege. This will be followed by a Jubilee Concert, which will be open to the public and may also be broadcast live on TV and radio.

While not all these events will be open to the public, there are plenty of opportunities for regular civilians to get caught up in Jubilee celebrations. In March, an exhibition titled “Vasa to Bernadotte – Culture in the service of the kingdom 1523 – 1973 – 2023”, tracking the history of the Swedish monarchy, will open at the Royal Palace. And in June, an outdoor photography retrospective on Carl XVI Gustaf’s time as King will open at Slottsbacken, by the Royal Palace. 

Gustaf Vasa led a rebellion against the Danish King Kristian II, led Sweden’s reformation, and established Sweden as a unitary kingdom. Photo: National Museum of Sweden

So what’s planned to celebrate the the Vasa anniversary? 

Next year isn’t all about contemporary royalty, there’s also a historical king to celebrate. 

Gustav Vasa, or Gustav 1st, is seen by many Swedes as the country’s greatest ever ruler. During his rule, Vasa did away with the tradition of elected monarchs, replacing the system with a hereditary monarchy, then ruled by the House of Vasa.

The day he was elected king, June 6th, 1523, is now celebrated as Sweden’s national day.

So on June 6th, a full day of festivities is planned in Strängnäs, the city where Vasa’s election was held, with King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia presiding over the day’s events.

The Royal Castles will mark Gustav Vasa’s election with a variety of events, including lectures, concerts, and park walks planned throughout the year at Vasaborgen Gripsholm, or Gripsholm Castle, in Mariefred. The castle itself is an important historical site, dating back to the era of Sweden’s Vasa rulers

You can apply for tickets here from March for the events at Gripsholm Castle. 

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It’s still not too late to get a ticket to Denmark’s summer music festivals

For hundreds of thousands of Danish people, the big music festivals that take place across the country are the highlight of the summer, with many visiting more than one. It's still not too late to get your tickets!

It's still not too late to get a ticket to Denmark's summer music festivals

Denmark’s love of music festivals dates back to 1970s, when a string of huge rock festivals were held across the country in the wake of the Woodstock Festival in the US. 

The first was the Sound Festival, which was launched in 1971 at the dyrskuepladsen, the area of common land just outside of Roskilde, growing over the years in the Roskilde Festival, the biggest music festival in northern Europe.  

Then came the now discontinued Midtfyn Festiva in 1976, and then in 1980 came the Skanderborg festival just south of Aarhus, which has since mutated into Smukfest. 

While these festivals were all originally launched as not-for-profit ventures run by volunteers, with the exception of Roskilde, Distortion, and Smukfest, most of big festivals are now run by private companies. 

What are the big festivals you can go to this year? 

May 31st to June 4th

Distortion, Copenhagen’s largest electronic music festival with a 25-year tradition, kickstarts Denmark’s summer festival season drawing in around 100,000 visitors each year.

Taking place from May 31st to June 4th, the festival (divided into Distortion X, Distortion Ø, and Distortion Club events) is run by a not-for-profit foundation, and it takes place in some of the best venues in Copenhagen.

The Distortion X events centre around big street parties catering to lovers of EDM, HipHop, House, and Trance (confirmed artists for this year include Bjerregaard, Djames Braun, Dø Chef Dø, Felix, Hedegaard, Helle Helle, and more). On the other hand, Distortion Ø revolves around a major forest rave and is promoted as the weekend finale of the festival. Some 36 artists (you can find the full line-up here) are expected to perform across four stages at Ø this year. You can find more information about the Distortion Club program for 2023 here.

A festival pass for Distortion Ø, X, and Club events will set you back around 1100 kroner, but daily tickets are also available.

June 1st to June 3rd.

Festival fever then moves north to Jutland for the The NorthSide festival in Aarhus. This year’s headliners include Muse, The Chemical Brothers, NxWorries (feat. Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge), Lukas Graham, The 1975, First Aid Kit, Sam Fender, LP, Yemi Alade, Pusha T, and the British rapper Little Simz. 

Prices went up on April 3rd, but at the time of writing you could still buy tickets here, for 2,545 kroner for the full three days.  

Unlike Roskilde, festival-goers cannot camp at Northside, with the majority of festival goers travelling back and forth from Aarhus every day. The festival recommends staying at the Blommehaven and Aarhus Camping campsites.  

Northside is a profit-making festival run by the British events company Superstruct Entertainment, which runs more than 70 music festivals and other events in Europe and Australia, including Denmark’s Tinderbox festival. 

June 8th to June 10th

The party moves back to Copenhagen in the second weekend in June with the Syd For Solen festival held in the Søndermarken park in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, which is easy to get to from anywhere in the capital by metro, bus or cycle. 

Headliners this year include Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, Peggy Gou, the War on Drugs, and Iggy Pop. 

At the time of writing you could still buy tickets for the Thursday, June 8th here, for Friday June 9th here, and for Saturday June 10th here, all for 740 kroner a day. All were all marked “few tickets remaining”. 

You are not allowed to bring your own food or drink to the festival, meaning you are reliant on the food trucks on site. 

The festival is arranged by the private Danish promotors Smash!Bang!Pow!, which arrange more than 300 concerts each year in Denmark. 

The other big event this weekend is the Heartland festival in the grounds of the stunning Egeskov Castle on the island of Funen.

This is a more upmarket festival aimed at an older audience, with food organised by gourmet restaurant Falsled Kro, and a series of talks put on by the Danish publisher Gyldendal. The music programme is arranged by Live Nation, the giant US promoter, which is the festival’s co-organiser. 

Headliners this year include Robbie Williams, Sting, Minds of 99, The Cardigans, Fatboy Slim, Mø, and Jack Johnson. 

At the time of writing you could still buy a three-day ticket for 2540 kroner, a two-day ticket for 1,840 kroner, and a one day ticket for 1,240 kroner. 

You can camp at the site for an additional 250 kroner, for 1,000 kroner for a pre-pitched tent, and 1,250 kroner for a caravan, although the last two were sold out.

June 14th to June 17th 

For lovers of hard rock and heavy metal the Copenhell festival is not to be missed. Held on the Refshaleøen peninsular in front of the famed mural of a wolf’s face, the festival has become a city institution. 

This year’s headliners include giants of hard rock history such as Guns n’ Roses, Def Lepard, Mötley Crüe, Slipknot and Pantera.

At the time of writing could still buy a four-day ticket for 3,855 kroner here, although it was marked “few tickets remaining”. Tickets for Saturday alone are already sold out.  

The other big festival of this weekend is the Tinderbox Festival in Odense, Funen, which like NorthSide is run by Superstruct Entertainment. 

Held in the Tusindårsskoven forest, southwest of the city, this year’s headliners include Black Eye Peas, Dean Lewis, George Ezra, Jada, Lukas Graham, Maroon 5, Nik & Jay, Tobias Rahi, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. 

At the time of writing, three-day tickets were still available for 2,595 kroner on Ticketmaster here, with two-day tickets for 2,195, and one-day tickets for 1,595 kroner. 

June 24th and July 1st 

The Roskilde Festival is Denmark’s oldest and biggest music festival, with over 130,000 visitors annually. It is run by the non-profit Roskilde Festival Charity Society, with any profits going to their programmer of charitable, non-profit and cultural work focused on children and young people. 

This year’s headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Queens of the Stone Age, Lil Nas X, Blur, Rosalia, Christine and the Queens, and Lizzo. 

You can buy an 8-day festival pass for 2,400 kroner here on Ticketmaster, with one-day passes selling for 1,200 kroner. Tickets include access to the vast but somewhat chaotic camping area, where you can choose where to pitch your tent. 

For an extra 1,600 kroner, you can rent a pre-pitched tent, with two mattresses pushing the price up to 2,200 kroner.  

The stage at Smukfest in 2022. Photo: Scanpix

June 30th to August 6th 

Taking place from July 13th to July 15th at Syðrugøta, Faroe Islands, the three-day-long G! Festival gathers thousands of indie rock lovers from all over the world.

Both media and festival goers describe G! Festival as a unique experience. It takes place in Syðrugöta, a quaint village on the island of Eysturoy. The festival sets up its stages on the beach and the football field, in close proximity to the houses of the village.

The 2023 line-up includes 200, Annika Hoydal, Antti Paalanen, Beharie, Benjamin Rajani, Jada, Lucky Lo, and many more.

Tickets are around 1495 kroner (available for purchase on the festival’s page – Stripe payments are accepted), and you can also pay for several add-ons, such as tent spaces (also available in family options).

Smukfest, Denmark’s second largest camping festival that boasts a crowd of 60,000 guests a day, is a somewhat different animal – it takes place in a forest outside Skanderborg, and it caters to heavy metal, rock, blues, electronic music, pop, and folk. It takes place from July 31st to August 6th, and roughly 200 artists from Scandinavia and abroad visit Smukfest each year.

Big names that are part of the program this year include Imagine Dragons, Megadeth, Ava Max, Sigrid, Christina Aguilera, David Guetta, Christopher, Jason Derulo, Sean Paul, Suede, and many, many more.

Daily passes start from 1495 kroner and can be found on the festival’s website. At the time of writing, passes for Friday and Saturday are already sold out. The 5-day tickets (August 2nd – August 6th), priced at 3295 kroner, have already been sold out.

August 24th to August 27th

Over the last four decades, Tønder Festival has emerged as a prominent music extravaganza in Denmark. It has witnessed continuous expansion over the years while remaining closely connected to its original charm and handmade music, such as folk, blues, country, old-time, cajun, and roots.

The festival takes place from August 24th to August 27th, and the festival site – which has nine stages – is located close to the Tønder town centre. The 2023 line-up is already live.

You can buy 1-day tickets for 700 kroner, or a pass for all four days for 1975 kroner, on the Tønder Festival website.

Karrusel, a three-day festival dedicated to house, disco, and techno, takes place (almost) at the same time (from August 24th to August 26th).

This event is held in central Copenhagen, close to an abandoned shipyard at Refshaleøen. Around 30 artists are expected to perform across three stages.

Confirmed acts for 2023 include Haensen&Gretel, Kölsch, Mira, Acid Pauli, HAAi, RSS Disco, and many others. Daily passes can be purchased on Ticketmaster for 450 kroner, while the festival pass is priced at 950 kroner.