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Norway’s Biggest Holiday Explained: How to Celebrate the 17th of May

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Gratulerer med dagen! And why is it a happy 17th of May, you may ask? Norway’s national day celebrates the 1814 signing of the Constitution of Norway, which declared the country an independent kingdom to avoid secession to Sweden after Denmark’s defeat of Norway in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Fourth of July and St. Patrick’s day can stand aside. Norway has won for the category of most delightfully extra National Day ever. It is few and far between a place one will find as exuberant a parade, dedicated a champagne breakfast, fully costumed a crowd, many a hot dog, ready an ice cream cone and, most of all, joyous a patriotism.  The next best thing to actually being in Norway on the day- well, according to a Norwegian: nowhere- but according to us, is London.

Norway’s Biggest Holiday Explained: How to Celebrate the 17th of May

Norway's 17th of May Parade

Norway’s 17th of May Parade

Where to go and what to do: Southwark park will be the hub of all things syttende mai today. There will be face painting, hot dogs and ice cream for the youngest, plus live music, brunch, bubbles and cake for the rest. The celebrations include a parade, marching band, live music and speeches. The 17th of May in London has been arranged for more than a decade. Celebrations originally started out in Battersea Park, but in 2007 relocated to Southwark Park, across the road from the Norwegian Church in London.

Today’s line up in Southwark Park

11:00 Southwark Park opens – all stalls are open. Entrance via Jamaica Road (Christchurch Gate), Paradise Gate by the roundabout near The Norwegian Seaman Church. Entrance fee of £2 per person, which includes 1 lottery ticket for the raffle (includes children).

11:00 Norwegian Flag is raised.

11:00 17th May breakfast at ScandiKitchen (pre-booking only).

12:30 Music by Swing’it Dixieband at the band stand.

13:00 Official welcome and info about the day by Kåre Sivertsen, the leader of the 17th May committee.

13:05 Norwegian National Anthem “Ja vi elsker” by Regent Brass London.

Norway's 17th of May Parade

Norway’s 17th of May Parade

13:15 Procession through the park. Order of procession: 17th may committee and official guests, marching band, Flag bearer from The Norwegian School,  The Norwegian Kindergarten, the Norwegian School in London, Saturday School, followed by everyone else.

14:00 “Norge i rødt, hvitt og blått” song – led by singers from ‘Olavskoret’ choir.

14:00 Introduction of the keynote speaker by ambassador Mona Juul

14:10 Keynote speaker – Norwegian minister of culture, Trine Skei Grande.

14:30-16:00 Traditional 17th May games by the Norwegian School.

14:45 Musical entertainment by the school music group from the Norwegian School

15:00 Speech by Sigrid Sivani Mekjan and Julian Jørung Fjeld, from the Norwegian School

15:30 Musical entertainment by Swing’it Dixieband

16:30 End of the official program in the park.

Follow the fun at 17. mai London.

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Norway's 17th of May Dessert

Norway’s 17th of May Dessert

How to continue your Scandinavian moonlighting going forward:

MAKE rye pancakes and dumplings. Trine Hahnemann shares her recipes from Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the art of hygge. Bronte Aurell from the ScandiKitchen also shares her Silvia cake recipe, perfect for fika.

SPLURGE at Aquavit St. James, where you can tuck into a Smörgåsbord of classic bites like different types of herring, Gravlax and pickles, reports Clementina Jackson from the special occasion restaurant.

TRAVEL to Helsinki with Cassandra Goad, who deems it the unofficial Scandi-Chic capital of the world….



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