Walpurgis Eve – the largest student event of the year
The 30th of April, Walpurgis Eve – referred to as ‘Sista april’ or ‘Valborg’ in Swedish – is the celebration of spring arriving in Sweden. And the celebrations at Uppsala University are truly extra special, with student floats running the Fyris River, herring lunches, the donning of the caps at Carolina Rediviva, parties and much more.
A beginners guide to Walpurgis Eve
Key events – what not to miss
- 10:00 Running the Falls of the Fyris River
- 11:30–14:30 Herring lunch (Welcome to join us for the classic herring lunch at Uppsala Concert & Congress)
- 13:30–14:45 The band Wijkmanska Blecket plays on the steps to Carolina Rediviva
- 14:45–14:59 This year’s specially designed Walpurgis pin is handed out below Carolina Rediviva
- 15:00 precisely. Donning of the Caps at Carolina Rediviva.
- 15:05 Concert with the men’s choir Orphei Drängar outside Carolina Rediviva.
- 15:30 Champagne gallop (dance) at the student nations
- 17:00 Walpurgis ball at Uppsala castle with the choir Allmänna Sången
- 21:00 Spring address by the Gunilla Bell tower at Uppsala Castle. Singing by Allmänna Sången.
Running the Falls of the Fyris River
In the mid 1970s, Uppsala engineering students started the tradition of running the falls of the Fyris River on floats. Many, many imaginatively themed and manned vessels try their luck in navigating the two falls and floating downstream through Uppsala. It is a grand and exceedingly popular tradition.
In 2013, Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson was the first Vice-Chancellor ever to take part in the race – in a float designed to look like the University Main Building.
Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg and then University Director Ann Fust taking part in the Running of the Falls in 2013.
The Donning of the Caps
The Donning of the Caps takes place in front of the University Library, Carolina Rediviva. At exactly 3 o’clock in the afternoon the Vice-Chancellor waves her white cap from the library balcony, a signal to the masses below to don their white student caps and run down the hill toward town. The effect is likened to ‘a field of white anemones’.
In the early 1900s it was simply a matter of everyone putting on their student cap for the first time after the winter when they went out in the morning on 30 April, but it became customary to gather at the bottom of the hill and don the cap at 3 pm. Over the years this crowd moved further and further up the hill toward the library. In the 1950s then Vice-Chancellor Torgny Segerstedt came up with the idea of raising his cap as a signal, and the present tradition was established.
See the event as a time-lapse.
Be part of Uppsala University’s spring celebrations
During the Walpurgis week there will be two ‘face in hole’ screens in front of Carolina Rediviva, showing Walpurgis celebrations from back in the days. Take your friends along and become part of history.
Just before the Donning of the Caps by Carolina Rediviva we will be handing out the specially designed, collectable Walpurgis pins starting at 14:45. There is a limited number of pins so make sure to be there on time to get your pin.
Spring songs by the Gunilla Bell
In the early 19th century students started a tradition of going up to the top of Castle Hill to see the bonfires on the surrounding plain. Those who could sing took the opportunity to do so; this was the birth of student glee clubs. Eventually it became a tradition to toast the king and country and perhaps make a speech to greet the spring. By the late 19th century the tradition was full-blown – the entire Student Union showed up and it became customary for the vice-president of the Union to deliver an address to the spring. This often acclaimed speech has been broadcast nationally on the radio every year since 1926 (with the exception of 1951), but since 1971 the address has been delivered by the curator curatorum, i.e. the president of the council of presidents of the student nations. The Gunilla Bell is rung at 21:00, and the Allmänna Sången choir still performs.