There is nothing says Spring in Sweden better than a good old bonfire and a men’s choir! Don’t miss the annual gatherings this Wednesday for a Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis night) to remember!
Every year on the 30th of April Sweden is set ablaze in revelry of the emerging spring. The celebration known as Valborg causes communities throughout Sweden to unite in spirit and gather around massive bonfires, singing songs to welcome spring to these northern shores. It’s a celebration for people of all ages and the best part is – it’s free. Just show up and get ready to interact more with Swedes than you have through the entire winter.
In many places, especially university towns, Valborg celebrations are known to start off in the afternoon or even morning with picnics in the park or country side, generally with champagne and beer in abundance. Who can argue with that?
But it is as the sun goes down that Swedes really get into the spirit of the day and gather at one of the various designated bonfire sites to sing folk songs, dance, drink and watch fireworks. In most places the varm korv (hot dog) vendors will be close by to satisfy any mid-party cravings. Guaranteed these bonfires are the biggest controlled fires many people have ever seen up-close, but not to worry, firefighters are at the scene to start and stop the blaze.
History of Valborg
Historically Valborg is derived from the Viking fertility celebrations that took place around April 30th, where the arrival of spring was celebrated with bonfires at night. The actual purpose of the fires was to scare off witches and evil spirits. A practical use for the bonfires was also to scare off predators such as foxes before the livestock were let out to graze on May 1st. In the Middle Ages, the pagan Spring ritual became associated with Saint Walpurga who was declared a saint during this time of the year.
Today, however, Swedes tend to look at this holiday as a chance to welcome Spring and light evenings back after a long winter. And there is certainly a point to that!
Bonfire gatherings in Stockholm
- Svanholmsparken, Danderyd – fire starts at 20:30
- Vinterviken, Aspudden – fire starts at 20:30
- Lidingö – various locations, fire starts from 20:00
- Hjorthagens idrottsplats, Östermalm – fire starts at 20:00
- Hammarbybacken, Hammarby Sjöstad– celebrations start at 17:00; fire starts at 20:20
- Götiska tornet, Drottningholm– fire starts at 21:00
- Ekebyhovs slottspark– celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 20:00
- Tyresta by, Tyresta – celebrations start at 19:30
- Hågelbyparken, Hågelby gård– celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 20:15
- Solna – various locations, celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 20: 30
- Huddinge– various locations, celebrations start at 18:00, fire starts from 20:00
- Baset, Järfälla– celebrations start at 19:00; fire starts at 20:30
- Riddersviks gård, Hässelby– celebrations starts at 20:00
- Tegelhagen, Sollentuna– celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 21:15
20.00 – torchlight procession from the town square Stortorget in the old town to Riddarholmen
20:30 – The bonfire is lit.
14:30 – Walpurgis celebrations begin. 21:00 – bonfire is lit.
Featured Image: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se