A Survival Guide for New Year’s Eve in Denmark

Thankfully it is now 2018.  This means BBB (Bilingual Backpack Baby) & I have successfully rolled (or jumped as they say in Denmark) into the New Year. 

This is no easy feat in a country where you have a lengthy list of traditions to achieve between 6pm and midnight.  After which one must then prepare, dodge and survive the neighbourhood fireworks being detonated by your friendly neighbours for the next hour or two. 

To aid in your defence, the local supermarkets sell protective eyewear for children and adults.  While commendable, I can’t help but think that they really should be selling full body armour suits.   Because New Year's Eve in Denmark is an extraordinary experience that requires both exceptional planning and protection.

This was our second New Years Eve in Denmark so we were at least somewhat prepared for the onslaught of fireworks (both indoor and outdoor) and traditions which consume the country.

Indoor fireworks - confetti canon - over excited father

Indoor fireworks - confetti canon - over excited father

It's not so much about public firework displays but more about buying your own fireworks and going nuts outside your apartment in the streets.  At midnight, the sky becomes full of exploding lights in every direction making your ears ring and if you’re like me, your mouth will hang open in a ‘what the hell is happening’ sort of way and you’ll rock quietly in the corner.  Or if you’re BBB, you’ll go to bed at 8pm and sleep through it all and wake up in the morning bright eyed and bushy tailed.

If you are wishing to celebrate the New Year danishly next year, then these are our top 10 recommendations:

1.      Invite, or get yourself invited by friends to their house for dinner.  This is by far the most common way of celebrating in Denmark.  Going out is not as common and more reserved for people who wish to lose an eye, freeze, or have a skyrocket launched into their back.

2.      Next, begin your evening at 6pm with a glass of champagne while watching the Queens speech on the television.  Bonus tip:  Run a sweepstake with your guests as to what colour dress the Queen will be wearing.

Queen of Denmark -  Dronning Margrethe, looking splendid in blue in 2017/18. Or was it purple?

Queen of Denmark - Dronning Margrethe, looking splendid in blue in 2017/18. Or was it purple?

3.      Serve entrée.  Drink.  Let off confetti canon/indoor fireworks and streamers for BBB & friends.  Encourage small children to then pick up every piece of confetti.  You'll find all of these supplies at your local supermarket the week prior to the 31st of December.

4.      Put children to bed.

5.      Serve Main course. Drink.

6.      Eat slow, talk. Drink.  Bonus survival tip:  Do not leave (or expect to leave the dining room table until your minimum 5-hour sitting is complete)

7.      Serve Dessert. Drink.

8.     At 11.30pm turn the TV back on to watch ‘Dinner for One’ and laugh at all the same jokes you’ve laughed at for the previous 40 mumble years watching the same show every New Years Eve.  Note this is a COMPULSORY ACTIVITY.  It is an English programme virtually unknown in the English speaking world, but world famous in both Germany and Denmark.

9.      11.55PM Watch live commentary and countdown of the clock in Copenhagen’s town square, Rådhuspladsen, on TV.

10.   12.00 (midnight).  Ding dong. New Year. Drink champagne, eat kranskage and jump off the couch into the new year.  All of which are again, compulsory.

Kranskage - to be eaten at midnight it is a traditional Danish marzipan cake

Kranskage - to be eaten at midnight it is a traditional Danish marzipan cake



Last, but not least, buy a funny hat to wear for the evening.  The supermarkets will again assist you by having barrels of these novelty hats available the week after Christmas and before New Years to buy. 

For a more fuller explanation of all the traditions, their meanings and some pretty photos, check out Oregon Girl Around the World’s blog.  She is a fellow expat Copenhagen blogger who has now survived 4 New Years Eves in Denmark and has done a much better job than I explaining each tradition. https://oregongirlaroundtheworld.com/copenhagen-2/copenhagen-has-the-best-new-years-eve-in-the-world/

Sending you all our best wishes for the new year – may it be an easy and enjoyable year.  And if it can’t be that, then we’re sending you our protective eye glasses and full body armoured suit to do battle with it as best you can.

Fancy dress hats are also compulsory. Tutu optional.

Fancy dress hats are also compulsory. Tutu optional.