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Celebrating 500 years of Sweden in Stockholm

On 6 June, all of Sweden celebrates National Day (Sveriges nationaldag) to honour two events in the country’s history. The day was first celebrated at Skansen in 1893, the open-air museum in Stockholm continues to be the main location for the celebrations.

2023 is a unique jubilee year for Sweden, as it marks 500 years of history worth commemorating. It is a year filled with more than one Swedish milestone, so be prepared for many celebrations, from royals touring through the country to the royal opera and horse races.

Swedish flag raised on Skansen's Bredablick towerThe history of Sweden’s National Day

The National Day celebrations in Sweden date back to 1893, when Artur Hazelius, founder of open-air museum Skansen, wanted to establish an annual day to focus on the nation. He choose June 6th as two historically important events had happened on that day. In 1523 Gustav Vasa was proclaimed king and in 1809 the current constitution of Sweden was agreed.

It took 23 years for Hazelius’ idea to be officially adopted, when in 1916 Swedish Flag Day was declared. In 1983 the day was renamed to Swedish National Day to get the Swedes more involved and to encourage national pride. And it took until 2005 for the national holiday to become an official public holiday, replacing Whit Monday.

The day continues to be celebrated at Skansen but celebrations have spread far and wide throughout the country. In 1593, the celebrations were formal with speeches from three distinguished citizens. Today the celebrations at Skansen are more informal though members of the Royal family are present.

The Swedish flag is run up the flag pole, and children in traditional peasant costume present bouquets of blue and yellow flowers to the King and Queen of Sweden, who arrive by carriage and are also dressed in traditional dress. Throughout the day there are activities at Skansen including folk dancing, flag making and historical performances.

Hat parade at the National Gallop Day by Svensk GaloppNational Day events throughout Stockholm

While the main event is at Skansen, there are other places to enjoy and celebrate the day throughout Stockholm. At Gärdet, Svensk Galopp (the Swedish Horseracing Authority) organises the National Day Gallop. There will be seven horse races as well as performances by artists, hat parades, children’s activities and lots of other fun activities. In past years over 50,000 people have attended this folk festival on Kungliga Djurgården.

On National Day you can enter the Royal Palace for free and there will be extra exhibitions, activities and plenty of music. There are also National Day celebrations at Drottningholm Palace Park and at Haga Park, where the Royal Swedish Orchestra will perform. Both picnics and BBQs are popular activities on National Day, in Rålambshovsparken, you can enjoy delicious food from food trucks and lots of activities for the whole family as well.


For more activities and attractions to do in Stockholm to celebrate Sweden's 500th anniversary, see this blog here. There are also many fun festivals in Stockholm during summer that might be of your interest.