Families, food and free entertainment are key themes for this year’s Danish Days festivities. Solvang’s 81st annual celebration begins Friday afternoon and continues all day Saturday — the Danish Days Parade commences at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The festival wraps up Sunday.

The festivities get an early start on Thursday this week, when the two best Danish Window Displays will be selected from participating Solvang businesses. First prize is $250; second prize is $100.

The city’s Chamber of Commerce (COC) is hosting the Danish Days Beer Garden. Volunteers are invited to work two-hour shifts on Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., or Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call the Solvang Chamber at 805-688-0701 to sign up.

Foodies & froth

Danish beers will be featured alongside local craft beers and limited-production wines courtesy of The Good Life restaurant on Mission Drive in Solvang. In addition to local libations, the restaurant offers Danish open-faced sandwiches for purchase, and will feature live entertainment on Saturday from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

New to Danish Days this year is a town-wide restaurant promotion, with participating Solvang eateries and bars serving special delights to honor the annual festival.

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Mad & Vin at The Landsby hotel will feature Flaeskesteg roast pork with fingerling potatoes, whole-grain mustard and white wine gravy, as well as the Danish Fly, a cocktail made with aquavit. High Roller Tiki Lounge is offering 50 percent off a second Tiki drink for customers who purchase two. Specialties include Solvang Siren and Bloody Viking. Toscana is offering Danish Pizza, made with local Danish sausage. Red Viking Restaurant is serving open-face Danish sandwiches, along with Akvavit and Carlsberg beer. Finally, Succulent Cafe Wine Charcuterie will feature its Nordic Mojito cocktail, dill-infused vodka with mint, fresh-squeezed lime juice and sparkling water.

Join the parade

Friday’s opening Torchlight Parade starts at 7:30 p.m.; it begins at Alisal Road and Laurel Avenue, followed by Danish Days opening ceremonies at 8 p.m. where this year’s Danish Maid, Gabrielle Heron, will be introduced. Saturday's Danish Days Parade begins on First Street, with a 1:30 p.m. “line-up.” The big parade heads east toward Copenhagen Drive for its scheduled 2:30 p.m. start time.