The townsfolk of Ålesund, the picturesque art nouveau town on the western coast of Fjord Norway, have an extraordinary way of paying tribute to the sun by means of a bonfire. A really big bonfire.
A “Ring of Fire”
For the town of Ålesund, it is all about using pallets to stoke the fire. Wooden pallets are stacked to a height of approximately 40 meters, over 130 feet, high. The base of the structure is approximately 20 meters, 65.6 feet, wide. About 40 young, and highly ambitious, individuals partake in the build. This build uses the power of muscle and determination, not cranes. It was in 2010, that Alesund set a world record for the tallest bonfire at 40.45 meters, 132.71 feet.
A Reflection of Ålesund’s Past
Fire is not only a key component to many celebrations, but a big part of Ålesund’s history. The story of the 1904 Ålesund Fire will be told for generations to come. Some say it was started from a cow kicking over a torch. Whatever the cause, ten thousand people were left homeless after the whole town center burned to the ground. Only a small percentage of houses were left standing. Remarkably, there was only one fatality.
Community spirit sprung into action with hope, dedication, and new life for the town. Ålesund was quickly revitalized in art nouveau style with a great number of architectural turrets and spires. Today Ålesund is the quintessential Norwegian town, full of tradition, beautiful topography, and a love of life.
The Renewal of Life
Many of Norway’s traditions are connected with the renewal of life. Ålesund’s celebration of Midsummer is a celebration of nature, life, and fertility. And their awe-inspiring pallet burnin’ ring of fire…well, that is a true Herculean undertaking.