May 12, 2023
Every year on 6 June, Sweden celebrates National Day but this year the event will be even more special. On 6 June 2023, it will be 500 years since Sweden became independent from Denmark and Norway, when, at the parliamentary session in Strängäs, Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden. The 500 year anniversary coincides with the 50th jubilee of Sweden’s current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf.
There are always plenty of activities to celebrate the day but during this anniversary year, there are even more events to celebrate, both around the country and throughout the city of Stockholm. Want to experience this day to the fullest? Here are our top tips to celebrate the National Day of Sweden.
Visit Gripsholm Castle
On 6 June 1523, Sweden’s parliament elected Gustav Vasa King, eleven days after the Stockholm Bloodbath, where many members of powerful Swedish noble families were killed. The castle in Sweden most closely associated with King Gustav Vasa is Gripsholm castle, just 70 kilometres outside of Stockholm. Here you’ll find events to celebrate 500 years of Sweden from Easter till the autumn holidays.
Gripsholm Castle is home to Sweden’s best preserved sights from the House of Vasa, including King Gustav III’s Theatre and the Swedish National Portrait Gallery. On National Day, Gripsholm castle will be open for self-guided tours, a Vasa-themed image-treasure hunt for kids, and a guided (English) tour at 15.00. The grounds around the castle shouldn’t be missed either!
Walk through Swedish history at Skansen
While Sweden may be 500 years old, National Day has only been celebrated since 1893. At the time the founder of open-air museum Skansen, Artur Hazelius, wanted to establish an annual day to focus on the nation. Twenty-three years later, the day was officially recognised as Swedish Flag Day and in 1983 it was renamed to Swedish National Day.
As the first location to celebrate Swedish National Day, Skansen is the place to be on June 6th. You can taste regional dishes, build an insect hotel, paint and make your own flag, or play games from the past such as walking on stilts, rolling ribbons and many others. Watch performances by Skansen’s fold dance team, listen to Skansen’s storyteller and Helene Stureborg’s Chamber Choir, and in the evening there will be a speech by King Carl XVI Gustav and performances from different artists.
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See 500 years of royal history at the Royal Armoury
The Royal Armoury is the museum of Swedish royal history and is located in the south-eastern corner of the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan. The Armoury is home to over 30,000 items, most with a connection to a member of the Swedish royal family, from Gustav Vasa to present day. The collections come mainly from the Royal Wardrobe, the Royal Arsenal and the private collections of various monarchs.
A visit to the Armoury is a great way to dive into 500 years of royal history. Amongst the many pieces on show at the Armoury are Gustav Vasa’s crowned helmet, his oldest son’s Erik XIV coronation cloak, and the gild cradle which was made in 1655 and is still used when an heir to the throne is baptised.
Go to the races
Every National Day, Svensk Gallop organises the National Day Gallop at Gärdet in Stockholm. During the day there are seven gallop races to watch, four for English thoroughbreds, one for Arabian thoroughbred horses, and two pony races. A visit to the races is completely free.
Along with the races the program also offers live music, children’s activities, lots of food options and the every popular hat parade. For the hat parade there are three different classes, Gärdet’s Best Hat, Children’s Hat and Match Your Dog. Kids can, along with the hat competition, try their hand at pole vaulting, ride a mechanical galloping horse, hop on a Segway, and climb up a climbing wall, as well as several other activities.
Celebrate with music, song and dance
Together with the city of Solna and the Swedish Royal Court, the Royal Swedish Opera organises a celebration in Haga Park. With singing, dancing, music and picnics in the park, from 11 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon this free celebration in the park is not to be missed. There are activities and shows for friends and family to enjoy.
With performances from the Royal Opera, the Royal Swedish Orchestra, the Royal Swedish Opera Chorus and dancers from the Royal Swedish Ballet, the day is a cultural show. There will be sing-alongs to Swedish summer classics and the children’s choir from the Solna cultural school will perform together with the Royal Swedish Orchestra. There are also guided tours through the park, for families and adults only, to show you more about the park and its history.
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