As Norway’s national day on the 17th of May approached, schools and kindergartens were holding their own practice parades. Meanwhile, the long holiday weekend was packed with concerts and special events.
Ascension Day on Thursday, known as Kristihimmelfartsdag, is a national holiday in Norway. Since schools also close on Friday, many Norwegians traditionally take a long holiday weekend.
This year, the Ascension Day weekend also coincided with the 17th of May on Monday, making for an unusually long holiday weekend. That also forced preparations for the 17th of May to be moved up, with many pre-schoolers out celebrating early and school children out marching on Wednesday to get ready for the big event on Monday.
Pre-schoolers all over the country dress up, bring a hand-held flag and walk behind a local school marching band. The parades often make a stop outside the nearest hospital or nursing home to greet the patients and residents. Hot dogs and soda are then consumed in large quantities while proud parents and grandparents look on.
The older children, meanwhile, need to prepare for the parades on the 17th, formally known as Grunnlovsdag (Constitution Day). Many hours have gone into practicing their various roles and learning to walk in step.
City officials, meanwhile, were preparing for a wide range of special activities over the weekend tied not only to the 17th of May but also to the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Oslo on May 29. On Saturday, the city was kicking off its Sound of Oslo program, due to run through the 29th and featuring hundreds of concerts all over town.
The Sound of Oslo was to kick off Saturday at the site of the old Schous Brewery at Schous Plass in Grünerløkka. Former Eurovision winners Bobbysocks would perform, along with Keep of Kalessin, which was the first black metal band to take part in the Norwegian run-up to Eurovision, Melodi Grand Prix.
On Monday, the city’s official 17th of May Committee was hosting its annual holiday concert outdoors for the first time ever, and all for free. After the official parade through town (which begins at 10am), the concert was due to start at 4pm at Rådhusplassen (City Hall Plaza), featuring last year’s Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak, the Oslo Symphony Orchestra and pianist Håvard Gimse.
That would be followed by a tribute to Eurovision from 6:30pm, featuring this year’s contestant Didrik Solli-Tangen, Bobbysocks, and other finalists from this year’s Norwegian competition.
The Sound of Oslo continues with concerts every day around town and even on the water, with some events held on board the tall ship Christian Radich and veteran military craft Alta. See www.soundofoslo.no for details (external link).
SEE PHOTOS FROM LAST YEAR’S 17th OF MAY!
Views and News staff