More than 100,000 people filled the streets around the royal castle in central Stockholm on Friday to watch the release of 50,000 balloons in the Swedish national colours of yellow and blue to celebrate National Day.
“It was great that so many came,” said Per Björklund at the department of culture. “On first impressions it feels like National Day this year has been celebrated more than before, with more flag-waving people on the streets.”
Stockholm City Hall housed ceremonies to welcome new Swedish citizens. 400 of the 3,392 people who received Swedish citizenship in 2007 were present according to newspaper Dagens Nyheter; among them was 46-year-old Australian Matthew Barlow who initially had no plans to attend.
“But then I thought, to be invited to City Hall, is really special. There is an underlying feeling of pride. Sweden is a good country that stands for positive values, such as accepting refugees,” he said to Dagens Nyheter.
The royal family had a busy day with princesses Victoria and Madeleine ending their day at Skansen. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia were meanwhile welcomed by Södertälje, one of Sweden’s most culturally diverse municipalities.
Among those waiting for the arrival of the king and queen to the traditional celebrations held at Torekällberget in Hövsjö were 12-year-old Pedros Wanis and his 11-year-old cousin Marall Wanis. News agency TT asked the pair what they would be eating to celebrate National Day:
“Pizza,” answered Marall.
Peace and freedom were the themes of Princess Victoria’s speech to thank the crowd assembled at Skansen.
“Let us be grateful that we have lived in peace and freedom for two centuries. It is important that we take care of our cultural heritage, our roots,” she said.