Norway has the reputation of being a nation of calm, intelligent, and sensible people, but that’s just a facade, it seems. They are just as nutty as the rest of us. After all, they broke the record for the world’s largest bonfire in 2016 and there’s nothing wise or reasonable about that. At all.
Every year on June 24 in the beautiful Norwegian port town of Ålesund, the locals build a giant tower of wooden pallets by hand. Later on, a handful of daredevils climb the tower and set fire to it from the very top before making their way down as quickly as they can. The building and burning of this tower is a traditional celebration of the birth of John the Baptist and is part of the Midsummer festival. The tower is built on a rocky peninsula that stretches out into the water, away from any buildings or people. This festival is known in these parts as Slinningsbålet.
In 2016, Ålesund broke the record for the world’s largest bonfire with a flaming tower measuring 155 feet. Of course, the whole thing was supervised by the emergency services to keep everyone safe.
It was not the first time that Slinningsbålet broke the record for the world’s largest bonfire. In 2010, the fire measured 132 feet, the tallest in the world at the time.
In 2022, the title of the world’s largest bonfire was awarded to the Craigyhill bonfire in the town of Larne in Northern Ireland. The fire was part of a traditional Loyalist event known as Eleventh Night. It measured 202 feet.
While fun and spectacular, bonfires can be hazardous to your health. Bonfires release soot and other pollutants that create very poor air quality. If you have any heart or lung conditions, or if your respiratory health is poor, stay well away from bonfires, even for a few days after the event. The particulate matter that bonfire release can remain in the atmosphere for several days.