Complete with music, dancing and a whole lot of enthusiasm for all things Danish, Solvang is holding a three-day celebration of its heritage this weekend.
The 82nd annual Danish Days began Friday night with a Torchlight Parade and runs through Sunday, with two more parades planned.
The celebration, with the theme of “Beautiful Denmark by the Sea,” kicked off with an opening ceremony that included 2018 Danish Days Maid Christiana Heron, who will preside over the festivities.
“I am so excited to be here … ,” she said. “I had hoped to be standing here as Danish Maid since I was young girl serving raspberry jam at the aebleskiver line.”
Heron is the third generation in her family to serve as a Danish maid, following her grandmother, mother and sisters.
“We hope you all enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of this Danish Days,” she said.
As hundreds of people gathered around the stage, audience members enthusiastically participated in renditions of the United States and Denmark national anthems.
“One thing’s for certain, it’s that we’re all here tonight together, and that’s to celebrate the traditions of Denmark,” said Daniel Lahr of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau.
Mayor Jim Richardson welcomed attendees, granting them permission to change their names to add the traditional Danish suffix of “sen.”
“So you all can be Danish for the weekend,” Richardson said.
This weekend’s Danish Days events will include Saturday and Sunday morning aebleskiver breakfasts ($7 for a plate of three or $8 with sausage). The meals featuring Danish pancakes will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The popular all-ages aebleskiver-eating contests will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Copenhagen Drive and First Street.
Saturday’s contest will include a special competitor with the participation of Southern California-based competitive eater Raina Huang, who will join the lineup to see who can eat the most aebleskivers in five minutes.
The main parade will travel through the village starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and proceed east from First Street to Copenhagen Drive, then north on Alisal Road, west on Mission Drive, south on Fourth Place, east on Copenhagen, south on Second Street and finish at the corner of Oak Street.
Glen and Michele Jacobsen were selected to serve as grand marshals.
On Sunday, a children’s parade will start at 2 p.m. at the corner of Atterdag Road and Copenhagen Drive, meandering down Copenhagen to end at Solvang Park.
Other features of the weekend include a Viking Beer & Wine Garden serving iconic Danish suds, plus craft brews and local wines along with food, including the “Viking Burger” — a Medisterpølse (Danish sausage) patty topped with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and an array of condiments, served atop an onion bun.
Solvang Park will host a two-day historical re-enactment called the Viking Encampment and the future-telling Rune Reader plus four performances by San Francisco-based magician and comedian Ryan Kane.
Volunteers from the nonprofit Solvang Danish Days Foundation organize the festival each year.
A full schedule of Danish Days events can be found by clicking here.