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Walpurgis Night, Valborg, in Stockholm
Photo by Johan Nilsson / TT
It’s time to celebrate the end of winter and beginning of something new. On Sunday, 30th of April, it’s time for Valborg, as it’s called in Swedish, Walpurgis Night.
The English name for the celebration, Walpurgis, comes form the eight-century English missionary Saint Walburga. However, the Swedish name for it, Valborg, hasn’t got that much to do with religion. It’s all to do with the arrival of spring and celebrating it. It’s a public event that’s celebrated all across the country, in different ways. The tradition of lightening a bonfire on Valborg dates back already to the early 18th century. From the beginning, it supposedly was done to protect cattle and animals from predators and magical powers, before the animals was let out on May 1st each season. Today it has very little to do with that, it’s known as the biggest spring-party of the season and the way the Swedes say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. It often consists of groups gathering during the day, often in parks, to barbecue and enjoy the weather (if you can). In student cities like Uppsala, the traditions are a bit more outrageous, with champagne breakfast and often up to 30hrs of partying.
If you’re in Stockholm during Valborg, check out these bonfires:
Skansen – Djurgårdsslätten 49-51
All day there’ll be singing and dancing on the stage. At 21.00 the bonfire is lit.
Långholmen – Alstaviksvägen 9A
Celebrations on Pålsundsvallen on the island of Långholmen (Södermalm) from 18.00. Liveband, fika and hot dogs for sale. The bonfire is lit at 20.00.
Gamla stan – Riddarholmen
For over 40 years, a bonfire has been lit on Riddarholmen during Valborg. There’s a torchlight procession departing from Stortorget at 20.10, if one really wants to get in spirit. The bonfire is lit by Evert Taubes Terrace at 20.30.