Walpurgis Eve in Uppsala – ‘Valborg’
The 30th of April, Walpurgis Eve – referred to as ‘Sista april’ or ‘Valborg’ in Swedish – is the celebration of spring arriving in Sweden. In Uppsala it is also the largest student event of the year with the Donning of the Caps at Carolina Rediviva, student floats running the Fyris River, singing at the Gunilla Bell Tower and much more.
Beginners course: Walpurgis Eve
Running the falls of the Fyris River
The Donning of the Caps
The castle ball
Timelapse: the Donning of the Caps
Timelapse from the Gunilla Bell tower
Timelapse from Uppsala Castle
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 student cap to the gathered masses below, who wave back and don their white caps. The tradition dates back to the early 1900s, and found its present forms when then Vice-Chancellor Torgny Segerstedt raised his cap as a signal to mark the beginning of spring.
Collectable Walpurgis pins
Every year, Uppsala University produces a shiny Walpurgis pin that can be collected 14:45–15:59 in front of the University Library. Be there in good time if you want to be sure to get your hands on this year’s colour!
Grab a photo with our face-in-hole
In the week leading up to Walpurgis Eve there will be two ‘face-in-hole’ screens in front of the University Library, showing Walpurgis celebrations from back in the days. Stop by with some friends and become part of history!
Orphei Drängar’s concert in front of the University Library
Since 2016 a new tradition has been established, where male choir Orphei Drängar (OD) perform their spring concert from the steps to the University Library, directly after the Donning of the Caps. (Previously the concert has been held in the Grand Auditorium and the University Park.)
Key events – what not to miss
- 10:00 Running the Falls of the Fyris River
- 11:30 Herring lunch at Uppsala Concert & Congress
- 13:30 Band Wijkmanska Blecket plays by the University Library
- 15:00 Donning of the Caps by the University Library
- 15:05 Orphei Drängar’s concert by the University Library
- 15:30 Champagne gallop (parties) at the student nations
- 17:00 Walpurgis ball at Uppsala castle
- 21:00 Allmänna Sången sing by the Gunilla Bell tower, Uppsala Castle
Running the Falls of the Fyris River
The Running of the Falls starts at 10.00. A never-ending stream of floats of all shapes and colours glide down the Fyris River and take on the two falls, Kvarnfallet and Islandsfallet. Come early to secure a good spot for viewing the event!
The tradition was started in the mid 1970s by Uppsala engineering students. Today the event is as popular as ever, drawing huge crowds of all ages.
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.