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Burnaby's beloved Scandinavian Midsummer Festival returns for 27th year

The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival will kick off summer with a weekend of Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic culture. Happening June 22 - 23 at 6540 Thomas Street in Burnaby, B.C.
Raising of the Midsummer Pole. Photo via: Noah Photography

Summer is just around the corner, as is the favourite start of summer celebration for Scandinavians and Metro Vancouverites alike.

The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is back for its 27th year, marking the official start of the season with a weekend of food, entertainment, and Scandinavian traditions, including the raising of the Midsummer Pole, an authentic Viking Village, and the festival’s most popular event year-after-year; the Wife Carrying Contest.

A light-hearted take on a Finnish tradition, contestants of the Wife Carrying Contest will pair up (regardless of marital status or gender), and do their best to carry one another as they race through an obstacle course competing for the best time.

The grand prize?

Your partner’s weight in beer, provided by a sponsor.

Of course, this is just one of the dozens of events featured at the family-friendly outdoor festival, which welcomes roughly 3,000 visitors annually. “My favourite event is probably the raising of the Midsummer Pole on Saturday”, says Martin Emslie, PR, and media coordinator for the festival host, the Scandinavian Community Centre. “The food vendors are a big highlight too… I love buying the black licorice from Finland!”

Viking Village. Photo via: Noah Photography

Another festival standout is the on-site Viking Village that is built and inhabited by Norse Culture Recreation Society, Reik Félag. Every year the village transports guests back to 1000AD, where you can play old Norse games, learn about Viking trade practices, observe weaving, blacksmithing, and experience how Vikings actually lived during that time. This year’s Scandinavian Midsummer Festival also boasts a Hobby Horse Race, Kids Activities, Nordic Baking, Live Music, Beer Gardens, and more. You can view the entire festival schedule and program HERE.

The annual event is hosted by volunteers from the Scandinavian Community Centre, which is jointly owned by  Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic houses/non-profit societies. As one of the larger Scandinavian community centres in North America, the festival aims to share Scandinavian traditions with everyone from ex-pats, those with heritage, those who appreciate the culture and anyone from the local community, regardless of background. The welcoming atmosphere in conjunction with the fact that the festival has been running for 26+ years (and has barely raised the ticket prices), is what has made The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival such a beloved event every summer in Metro Vancouver.

Tickets for this year’s festival will be available at the gates. Photo via: Noah Photography

“I think the most significant part of the festival is celebrating the start of summer and the similar values, culture, and climate that Canadians and Scandinavians share,” says Emslie. So, if you’re looking for a fun and unique way to set the tone for the season, look no further than Scandinavia, or should we say, The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Burnaby, B.C.

Tickets for this year’s festival are only available at the gates, which open at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and while the country vendor tents close at 4pm, the beer gardens with live entertainment stay open until 11 p.m.). On Sunday it is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.  Festival admission is free under the age of 16; $15 for 16 and over on Saturday, $10 on Sunday, with free parking on both days.

For more information, visit