The Danish Halloween

This weekend the Danish tradition of Fastelavn is taking place all over the city. The day, which always occurs seven weeks before Easter, is sometimes described as the Nordic Halloween as children dress up in costumes and get treats. One of the main events of Fastelavn ‘hitting the cat out of the barrel’ (slå katten af tønden). In old days there was an actual black cat inside the barrel, and beating the barrel was superstitiously considered a safeguard against evil.


But don’t worry, there’s no actual cat in the barrel today, only sweets and oranges. The one who knocks down the bottom of the barrel becomes the ‘queen of cats’ and the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel becomes the ‘king of cats’.


Other Fastelavn traditions include eating the special Fastelavn bun with cream inside and icing on top, and also making a ‘Fastelavnsris’, a kind of whip made out of twigs that you decorate with paper cats and other things.


So here are just a few of the events going on. Remember that most churches around Copenhagen also hold events – so check out the Sunday programme at your nearby church.


Make paper cats

Before all the beating of the barrel begins, you can kick-start the weekend of Fastelavn at this creative workshop. Explore your creative side when you get the chance to make your own paper cat with pearls and glitter. The library has all you need to make the perfect, festive decoration.

Avedøre Bibliotek, Hjulmagerporten 1, Hvidovre; Fri 13:00; free adm;; over-4s


Fastelavn with Fætter BR
Here you get the chance to make your own ‘fastelavnsris’ and hit the barrel courtesy of the toy shop Fætter BR. Thora and Tove from the Flittige Hænder creative workshop will help you make the fastelavnsris before you head out on the roof to hit the barrel with the mascot, Fætter BR himself. You also get the chance to win a Fætter BR gift certificate if you become the queen or king, or if you’re just wearing a really nice costume.  In the weeks leading up to Fastelavn you can buy a costume at BR designed by Hanne Siewartz, from which all the profits are being donated to SOS Børnebyerne.

Kulturstationen Vanløse, Frode Jakobsens Plads 4, 1., Vanløse; Sat 11:00-13:00; free adm;; over-5s


Fastelavn for peace
The Parents for Peace organisation (Forældre For Fred) invites children and their parents to this Fastelavn event for the fourth year in a row. The event includes a welcome speech by Pia Allerslev, the deputy mayor for culture, who will also be the first to hit the barrel. There will be gifts for the kings and queens as well as free Fastelavn buns and hot chocolate for the first 250 children, and there will be entertainment by the happy balloon pirate who will make balloon animals for all the kids.

Brønhøj Torv, Brønshøjvej 1, Brønshøj; Sat 11:00-13:00; free adm;; all ages


Fastelavn for everybody
This is truly an event for children of all ages, as Kulturhuset provides a special smaller barrel for the youngest kids, where parents or others can help out. There’s no focus on the best costume; here everybody is the same, and you get a small bag of treats after the kings and queens have been announced. The programme is introduced by the actor Brian Samsboe.

Kulturhuset Indre By, Charlotte Ammundsens Plads 3, Cph K; Sun 10:00-11:30; tickets 30kr at Kulturhuset (open Mon-Fri 08:00-23:00 and Sat & Sun 08:50-23:00);; all ages


Dress up and eat sweets
Dress up as a clown, a princess, an elephant or something else when the museum invites families to join their Fastelavn party. The day includes hitting of the barrel, Fastelavn buns, hot chocolate and coffee in the cosy café. The beating of the barrel will take place outside in the courtyard, and there will also be the chance to buy old-fashioned sweets and toys from when your grandparents were kids.

Ballerup Museum, Pederstrupvej 51, Ballerup; Sun 13:00-16:00; free adm; 4497 1113;; all ages


Fastelavn in ByOasen
Dress up and bring your own lunch for this event that begins with the hitting of the barrel at the hen yard, and then after the kings and queens have been crowned, the day continues at Orangeriet (the big greenhouse). Here you get the chance to make your own environmental friendly ‘fastelavnsris’, and play special Fastelavn games including a sack race and one that involves biting into a bun. You can also get your face painted like a tiger, a butterfly, or something else.  

ByOasen i De Gamles By, Agnes Henningsens Vej 7, Cph N; Sun 11:00-14:00; free adm;; all ages

Circus twisted Fastelavn
Bring the entire family to this Fastelavn event where you can get your face painted, hit the barrel – all participating children get sweets – and check out the museum’s activities, which includes making circus costumes. Finally you can experience the amazing children’s circus, Cirkus Arcus, at 14:00.

Cirkusmuseet i Hvidovre, Hovedporten 6, Avedørelejren, Hvidovre; Sun 11:00-15:00; free adm;; all ages


Fastelavn at Frederiksberg City Hall
Hit the barrel with Frederiksberg mayor Jørgen Glenthøj, enjoy entertainment by Bloody Mary and the Balloon Clown Trut, and draw a special Fastelavn drawing while the marching band Frederiksberg Garden plays.

Frederiksberg Rådhus, Smallegade 1, Frederiksberg; Sat 12:00-13:15; free adm;; all ages

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