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How Norway's biggest cities will celebrate May 17th this year

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
How Norway's biggest cities will celebrate May 17th this year
A May 17th parade in Norway's capital, Oslo. Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash

As the big celebrations associated with Norway's national day – May 17th – draw closer, we look at how the country's biggest cities plan to mark the occasion.


Constitution Day in Norway is a day like no other – Norwegians all over the country take to the street to commemorate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution on May 17th, 1814.

The day is one of the most widely celebrated in Norway, and most cities organise special May 17th programs, festivities, concerts, and a string of other events to mark the day.

READ MORE: May 17th: A guide to how Norway celebrates its national day

The overall mood is festive and cheerful. The streets come alive with parades featuring schoolchildren, marching bands, and community organisations, flags are put on display on most buildings and posts, and Norwegians dress very smartly, often in traditional attire called the bunad, as they take partake in this popular celebration.

According to the May 17th committees in Norway's largest cities, plans for Syttende Mai (the Seventeenth of May) have mostly been finalised, and now all that's left is to hope that the weather will be kind to the crowds on Wednesday.

Oslo: Some 110 schools to join the May 17th parade

In Oslo, a key part of the celebration is the children's May 17th parade. Schoolchildren make their way up Karl Johan Street to the Royal Palace to wave at the royal family. Thousands of people will line Karl Johan Street. The parade will begin in the morning and last into the early afternoon. 

Furthermore, a concert showcasing young Norwegian talents will take place at Akershus Fortress.

The free concert will take place at the Karpedammen stage and bring together talented students from renowned institutions such as Edvard Munch, Foss, Hartvig Nissens, and Oslo cultural schools, alongside other professional musicians.

A highlight of this year's concert is the presence of Emelie Hollow, a renowned artist. In addition, the Oslo Symphony Orchestra's 30th consecutive participation adds a touch of elegance to the occasion.

"The planning is going very well. We have 110 schools that will join the children's parade. Before that, there will be a festive concert with several young talents and Emilie Hollow at the fortress," Sarah Safavifard, the leader of the May 17th committee in Oslo, told Norwegian newswire NTB.

"There has been a fair amount of work. I have received good help from the committee. It's been a long time since I've seen the children's parade myself. Now, I hope for a sunny celebration with lots of people. May 17th at its best, as we know it," Safavifard said.

Oslo Municipality has published a brief on its May 17th program on its website.


Bergen: A flag parade and fireworks at Festplassen

Bergen is preparing a traditional May 17th program, with the flag parade, a special air show with aerobatics demonstrations, and fireworks at the Festplassen square.

Liv Cecilie Lycke, head of the May 17th committee in Bergen, has great faith that this year's celebration of the national day will be in good Bergen tradition.

"You can expect a program that starts at 7am and lasts until 11:30pm. We have lots of activities that will take place in the centre of Bergen. There, there will be a celebration with several old traditions. Much of what we do on our national day are traditions that go back 175 years ago," Lycke said.

Among other highlights, Lycke pointed to the flag parade, which takes place at 10:40am. In addition, a celebratory salute will be carried out at the Bergenhus Fortress at 12 o'clock, and at 1:30pm, the air show over Vågen/Byfjorden will take place. At the same time, there will be a really good party at Festplassen Square when the national day draws to a close.

"In the evening, we have a big event for young people at Festplassen. Among other things, several artists will perform, so there will be dancing and a good atmosphere. Finally, we'll end the day with a fireworks display at 11.15 pm," she said.

You can find more information on the program in Bergen on the Municipality's website (in Norwegian).



Stavanger is placing its confidence in a traditional May 17th celebration. Photo by Victor Malyushev on Unsplash

Stavanger: Traditional festivities and international culture spotlight

This year, Stavanger is placing its bet on a traditional celebration, with parades taking centre stage as the main attraction of the day, according to Ann Sesilie Tekfeldt, leader of the May 17th committee in Stavanger.

"We are ready and looking forward to the day ahead. There will be a children's parade, a people's parade, and a parade of high school pupils in their final spring semester. But, overall, it will be a very traditional celebration," Tekfeldt said.

"It's also incredibly fun to meet people and congratulate others on the parade on the day... We also have an international folk festival outside our concert hall in Stavanger. There were a lot of people there last year... So, I'm looking forward to seeing the great international cultural features," she said.

"It will be very nice to have a holiday on May 17th in Stavanger. There will be a bustling public life around the entire cityscape. If the weather is good, there will be no better places to holiday on May 17th than in Stavanger," Tekfeldt concluded.

The full Stavanger May 17th program has already been published online.


Tromsø: Hoping for nice weather

Like other major cities, Tromsø is also ready to celebrate May 17th.

Given the often cloudy, rainy, and changeable weather in Norway's northern region, the local committee hopes for favourable weather conditions for the festivities.

"I hope that we will have pleasant weather. I don't want to say sunny, but God, how good it would be if it were sunny," Eva Lockertsen Stenvold, the leader of the May 17th committee in Tromsø, said.

The program for Constitution Day has been set, and the committee leader says several parades will run through Tromsø on Wednesday.

"After I joined the May 17th committee, I discovered a parade that I had never been aware of before – the scout parade, which starts in the morning at 7 o'clock. The parade visits all memorials and monuments in the city and ends its journey at 8.15 am. After that, not many hours are left before the school parade, the children's parade, and the people's parade occur. The school parade starts at 11.15 am, the children's parade leaves at 1.15 pm, and the people's parade takes place at 4.30 pm. So, there is something for everyone," Lockertsen Stenvold said.

The full May 17th program can be found on the Municipality's website (in Norwegian).



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