There is nothing that says spring in Sweden better than a good old bonfire and a men’s choir! Don’t miss the annual gatherings at Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis night)!
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.
You can celebrate in a whole bunch of places! You could go to Riddarholmen, Hjorthagen, Frihamnen, or the “main” celebration at Skansen! Each municipality and some neighbourhoods have their own celebrations. In the nearby suburbs, you have Skytteholm, Fornuddsparken, Hagalund, Ulriksdal, Järvastaden and many, many more! sweden.se
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 varmkorv (hot dog) vendors or maybe more modern food trucks will be closeby 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!
Our picks of bonfire gatherings in Stockholm
Starting at 20.00 – The bonfire is lit at 20.30.
15.00 – Walpurgis celebrations with students
20:00 – Evening programme
21.00 – Bonfire is lit
21.20 – Ale Möller Band with guest artists
- Svanholmsparken, Danderyd – fire starts at 20:30
- Hammarbybacken, Hammarby Sjöstad – celebrations start at 17:30; fire starts at 20:05
- Götiska tornet, Drottningholm- fire starts at 21:00
- Ekebyhovs slottspark, Ekerö – celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 20:00
- Tyresta by, Tyresta – celebrations start at 19:30
- Hågelbyparken, Botkyrka – celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 20:00
- Ulriksdals Slottspark, Solna – celebrations start at 19:00; fire starts at 21:00
- Sjödalsparken, Huddinge – celebrations start at 17:00, fire starts from 20:15
- Baset, Järfälla- celebrations start at 19:00; fire starts at 20:40
- Riddersviks gård, Hässelby- fire starts at 20:00
- Tegelhagen, Sollentuna- celebrations start at 18:00; fire starts at 21:15
There are many more bonfires around Stockholm – for more locations take a look here! To find out more about what the locals say about Valborg – don’t just take our word for it – get it from the horse’s mouth!
Party after the bonfire
Valborg night doesn’t have to mean May bonfires and choir singing – for those who want to celebrate spring in a slightly more festive way, there are plenty of Valborg parties in Stockholm to hang out at. In addition, as it’s well known, Valborg is followed by a bank holiday on May 1st, which makes it easier to stay out longer. Fancy a Walpurgis celebration in town? Here we give tips on Walborg celebrations, with everything from day parties to 05 clubs with dance floors and DJs.
- Nya Carnegiebryggeriet
Featured Image: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se