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Walpurgis Night (Valborg) and May Day

On the 30th of April all Swedes gather at night around bonfires to welcome spring time.

Steeped in history since the middle ages, Walpurgis Night is one of those traditions which has been modernised and taken to the heart of today’s Swede but the sentiment remains the same. Winter is over. Celebrated on 30 April annually, Walpurgis heralds the beginning of spring and the end of the university year, both are cause for celebration.

From a tourist’s perspective, Walpurgis is bonfire night in Sweden. Traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits, the celebration is now a festive way of getting rid of excess gardening odds and ends but that doesn’t make the moment any less special or anything less of a spectacle for your clients who may choose to be in Sweden at this time. In addition to the bonfires that spring up all over the country, the moment is celebrated by mass choral singing and your clients are encouraged to hum along.

Walpurgis celebrations are not a family occasion but rather a public event, and local groups often take responsibility for organising them to encourage community spirit in the village or neighbourhood.

Once the fire dies, many people move on to pubs and restaurants or to friends’ parties. The fact that Walpurgis Eve is followed by 1 May − a public holiday means that people are not afraid of continuing the festivities late into the night, making for an excellent ‘live like a local’ experience for your clients that are so inclined.

There are plenty of organised events your clients can join in with, if they don’t want to just wander around a park and make some new friends. In Uppsala, almost 100,000 people gather in the Ekonomikumparken. In Lund, the celebrations take place in the city park. In Malmö it is held in Folkets Park. In Stockholm, all roads lead to Skansen open air museum (you may notice a theme running through this article), which organises a huge Walpurgis event each year.

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