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.
Key events – what not to miss
- 10:00 Running the Falls of the Fyris River
- 11:45 Herring lunch at Uppsala Concert & Congress
- 13:3 Band Wijkmanska Blecket plays by the University Library
- 15:00 (Sharp!) Donning of the Caps by the University Library
- 15:02 Orphei Drängar sings at the University Library stairs
- 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. 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.
How the Running of the Falls started – interview with Anders Ahnesjö
UTN’s website for the Running of the Falls and Forsfestivalen
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 his 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.
Orphei Drängar’s performance in front of the University Library
Since 2016 a tradition has been established, where the men's choir Orphei Drängar (OD) perform spring songs from the steps of the University Library, following the Donning of the Caps.
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.
Welcome the spring at home
The 30th of April, Walpurgis or Valborg – whatever you call it, it’s the greatest student celebration of the year in Uppsala.
Have your own choir welcoming spring in your home!
‘Sista April’ – the app
With the app Sista April you can download your own virtual choir to sing the traditional Swedish spring songs right where you are. Choose among four classic songs and which of the singers (bass, tenor, alto and soprano) you want to hear. Using augmented reality you can place the choir wherever you want it – on the buffet table or in your garden. You can even join in yourself. Take a selfie or a video clip and share with your friends! You can also change the pitch of the songs for some extra fun.
Download the app for free for iPhone and iPad.
Download the app for free for Android.
Using the app
Tap the button “Släpp kören fri!” to start the augmented reality view and place the choir where you want it.