No matter when you’re planning a trip to Scandinavia, there are festivals and attractions and outdoor adventures waiting to be had. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter: we’ve got the best of the best things to do in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden year-round. Bookmark this page!
Summer – Late June to Early September
The days get longer as summer progresses, making it perfect for outdoor activities at any time of the day and most of the night. The best place to experience the Midnight Sun (April 19th to August 23rd), when it remains light almost all night, is above the Arctic Circle. (Yup – that’s midnight in the below photo.)
The biggest carnival in Scandinavia, Aalborg Carnival is held in the last week of May with parades, themes and a different performance or activity each day on the city streets. The week before the carnival is the Children’s Carnival. A historic value luxury experience might be enjoying a Viking Play in the city of Frederikssund.
Every day in summer there is a Parade of Hans Christian Andersen characters in the park behind the Andersen Museum in Copenhagen. From July to October, you can go whale watching from Disko Bay. Water activities, island hopping, horseback riding, hiking, climbing and camping are popular during the summer when the weather makes these activities possible. There is the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in July and the Viking Moot Festival in Aarhus, also in July.
Throughout Norway, but especially in the north, this is a great season for hiking and camping. This is the easiest time to access the extreme north like Nordkapp. When the weather is fine and the sea and roads are not covered with ice, you can travel comfortably to the most northerly point in Europe. Norway’s largest amusement park Tusenfryd, is open every day in July and only occasionally throughout the rest of the year. In August, there is the Etne Market Days in the town of Etne and plenty of stuff happening in Oslo: the Oya Festival, Oslo Jazz Festival and Chamber Music Festival .
Sailing from island to island in the summer is a popular activity, or alternatively just relaxing at an outdoor cafe overlooking the water. Don’t miss taking the steam train on the Lennakatten Railroad between Marielund and Fjallnora. In July, Stockholm has its Pride Parade and Jazz Festival, the Rattviksdansen Folklore Festival is held in the city of Rattvik, and the Karlshamn Baltic Festival highlights the cultures of the Baltic region.
Fall – September to Early November
The weather is mild and the fall foliage adds color to the southerly regions, while further north, evergreen trees brighten up the landscape.
The Copenhagen Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is held in October; also in Copenhagen, Tivoli Park is looking spectacular for its Halloween events. In September, visit the Aahus Festival. In Valby, Copenhagen the largest beer festival in Europe is held mid-September. Denmark tries to make the Fall last as long as they can by celebrating the Autumn Jazz Festival in early November (when November is really the start of winter).
Visit the Bergen Art Festival and in September the Norwegian Food Festival is held in the peaceful city of Alesund. The ULTIMA Contemporary Music Festival is held in the capital, Oslo. Oktoberfest beer festivals are held in several cities throughout the country, including the capital.
In the city of Goteborg, there is an International Book Fair in September (English books too!). Sweden’s version of an Oktoberfest is held in the Stockholm Congress Center and called the Beer and Whisky Festival. What’s not to like?
Winter – November to Late March
The winter season starts in November when the weather is colder and the nights begin to get longer. Winter is a great time to travel to Scandinavia, there are many activities available only in the winter and you get the bright lights and festivities of the Christmas season. It might be dark and cold, but it’s still an atmospheric experience (at val lux prices!)
Although you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights from Denmark, there is a much better chance from Sweden or Norway. Visit the 10-day Winter Jazz Festival in late January to early February, which is held in over 50 venues in Copenhagen and the rest of the country. Copenhagen holds its Fashion Week in February, when you can get great deals on clothing at most of the city’s stores. Tivoli Park hosts the Copenhagen Christmas Market and entertainment for the shoppers, while at the Christmas market in Aaurhus there is the biggest arts and crafts market.
Cross the Arctic Circle to have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights; there are guided tours which take you away from the city lights to see the Aurora if you’re not confident in venturing by yourself. In the city of Tromso, in northern Norway, there is an annual Sami Festival (the Sami are the indigenous people of this region) with reindeer races, lasso competitions and plenty of traditional Sami food on offer. Winter snow sports are everywhere you turn; even in the southern part of the country, there is always a ski slope just outside the city. Among the winter snow activities try skiing, snowboarding, snow mobile rides and cross country skiing. Above the Arctic Circle you can take reindeer sled rides, go ice fishing, go for a husky dog sled ride and take a horse ride through the snow. The fact that these activities can be done in the dark of night (because of the long nights) makes them even more unique. Tromso is a good base for these activities. And also, don’t miss the huge Christmas Market that is held in Oslo.
The snow activities mentioned above can also be done in Sweden; the further north and into Lapland you go the more opportunities you will have to try traditional snow sports. The Sami people (who inhabit the Lapland regions of Sweden, Norway and Finland) hold a winter market in Jokkmokk, which has been held annually for the past 401 years! See their crafts, learn about their traditions and try their cuisine. February 6th is the Sami National Day so if you are in northern Sweden or Norway you may see spontaneous celebrations. Near the city of Kiruna visit or stay in the Ice Hotel before it melts – literally!
In Malmo, enjoy Shop Window Sunday in early December when store owners compete to see who can make the most stunning Christmas window display. Stockholm will be all abuzz around the 10th of December when dignitaries and celebs gather for the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and Awards in Stockholm. And do visit the biggest Christmas Market in Gothenburg in addition to the others in Stockholm.
Spring – March to June 20th
You can get good rates, few crowds and pleasant weather (sometimes a bit rainy) during this off-season in Scandinavia. The southern areas are alive with colorful flowers. In the north, you may still be able to catch the Northern Lights as late as April. Easter brings with it many traditions in all of Scandinavia.
In May, Denmark celebrates the second of its beer festivals called Beer Days; this particular event is known for its wide range of beers. On the 16th of May, see the Queen’s Procession in Copenhagen. In late-March, there is the Copenhagen Catwalk a fashion event lasting 3 days and involving shows, sales and behind-the-scenes events open to the public.
Early May sees the Bergen Music Fest and in nearby Stavanger there is an International Jazz Festival. The Bergen International Festival spans both spring and summer, lasting two weeks and offering performances in all art forms; it is Norway’s oldest festival, running now for nearly 60 years. Oslo hosts the Wood Rock Festival in mid-June.
On March 25th, enjoy the sweet treats on Waffle Day, or come check out the big bonfires on April 30th for Walpurgis Night. For racing enthusiasts there is the Swedish Speedway Grand Prix in mid-May, or perhaps the The Sweden Rock Festival held in Solvesborg or the Taste of Stockholm Food Festival will be more your cup of tea.
There you have it – never an excuse to miss out on Scandinavia. And don’t forget to contact our travel concierge if you need help planning a visit.