Valborg in Sweden: Celebrating the arrival of Spring

Spring has been a long time coming this year, and we’re still waking up not knowing whether we snow will have made an appearance again. When you imagine what life would have been like in centuries gone by in this Northern (and in some places Arctic) climate that we call Sweden, it is easy to understand why, after several months of long, dark, wintry nights, communities across Europe were so keen to celebrate the end of these darker days and the arrival of this warmer and brighter season.

Sweden, it seems, is a country keen on keeping their cultural traditions alive…so mark April 30th on your calendars now…and prepare to experience Bonfire Night in Sweden with the Swedish community celebrations of Valborg!

The History of Valborg (in a nutshell)

Valborgsmässoafton (known perhaps more commonly as Valborg) is the Swedish translation of the German Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night in English) and it is thought to be named after the 8th century missionary Saint Walpurga. The legend of Walpurgis Night derives from Germany where, on this night, witches were thought to gather on a hill near the Brocken – the highest peak in the Harz mountains.  Walpurgis Night later became a fest to drive out evil spirits through the making plenty of noise. Although Valborg has pagan roots, today Valborg has become a Swedish cultural festival celebrated openly and regardless of religious beliefs.  You will likely find Valborg celebrations also taking place across Scandinavia and in many countries throughout Europe.

Depending on where in Stockholm you choose to go for Valborg, your experience will vary.  Many people opt to visit the bonfire happening in their local community (a list of some of the main celebrations taking place in 2017 can be found below) and many of these bonfires are accompanied by fireworks, live music, food, torch processions and perhaps even fire dancing in some places!

Why we love it?

Today, Swedes simply enjoy getting outside to celebrate the lengthening days and to welcome the season of spring. And personally, I love getting involved in the exploration of different cultural traditions wherever I happen to be in the world. And the best part…in many muncipalities, Valborg is often free (or you pay a nominal fee)!

(Top tip: To make the most of this evening on a budget, take your own drinks and snacks (if permitted by the venue) to enjoy as you take in the wonder of Valborg!)

Where to celebrate Valborg in Stockholm

We’ve tried to list a selection of Valborg celebrations in a variety of locations below (but this list is not comprehensive). If you know of any good valborg celebrations that we have missed let the community know by leaving a comment below…

In Central Stockholm

Gamla Stan (Main Square) procession to Riddarholmen: 20:10 – Torchlight procession from the Stortorget in Gamla Stan to Riddarholmen. 20:30 – Bonfire is lit. Singing, dancing and refreshments will be available.
Skansen is always a popular destination for Valborg celebrations. Entry is 120 SEK, so not great if you are on a budget…unless…
***CALLING ALL STUDENTS: with a valid SSCO or SFS card – you guys get in for FREE ON VALBORG!***

Local Valborg Celebrations

For Valborg celebrations in central Stockholm – check out this map from the City council.
Ålstenskolan in Bromma: This seems to be one of the main celebration in BrommaWhere: At the end of Ålstensgatan, overlooking lake Mälaren. 19:00 – 20:30. Run by Ålstenskolan.
Danderyd: Several different celebrations will take place in Kvarnparken, Germaniaparken, Djursholm Ekeby and Svanholmsparken.
Hägersten-Liljeholmen: The details of several celebrations across the kommun can be found here.
Hässelby-Vällingby: With celebrations at Parkliken Ådalen and Ridervik in Hässelby.
Huddinge: You will find Valborg celebrations across Huddinge at Sjödalsparken, Flemingsberg/Visättra, Långängen, Stortorpsparken
Nacka: There is a lot happening in Nacka – so if you are local, you are sure to find something near to you!
Sigtuna: You can find all their yearly activities over at their website.
Tyresta National Park: – Just 20km from the centre of Stockholm, celebrate Valborg in the natural surroundings of Tyresta National Park. Spring is traditionally welcomed with speeches, songs and a bonfire. Visitor Centre is open until 19:30, The Café until 21:00.
Uppsala – Here you can find out what is going on in Uppsala (in English) and we have heard that it is a great place to experience Valborg in Sweden.

And finally… if you want to know some of the best places to visit in Sweden at any time of year (!) – then make sure you check out this great blog post from our friends over at The Crazy Tourist.

28th April 2017

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