Spring has arrived in Lund

The Feast of Valborg – Sweden

Today I would like to tell you about Valborg, one of the biggest festivities in Sweden. At the end of the entry you will find a table listing the expenses you will have to face when coming to take part in this one of a kind event!

The festival takes place on the 30th of April. Often referred to as Walpurgis Night in other countries, Valborg celebrates the end of the cold winter and the beginning of spring. May Day celebrations have a very long tradition in Sweden. In its oldest university town, Uppsala people gather by the thousands in the park and sing hymns in their white captain’s hats – a traditional accessory for the city’s students.

I have celebrated it in Lund, where I study & live.

Lund Cathedral
Lund Cathedral

Lund is very famous for its 3 – 4 days of Valborg parties. As Lund is a very international & vibrant student city, people from all over the world come to celebrate Valborg here. From what people who have been living here for quite a while been telling me it is the best party in the country. This was made clear by many people from Stockholm whom I have met. Sweden’s capital is actually much closer to Uppsala and still…they come here every year.

Both, Lund and Uppsala, are the country’s biggest and best known student cities & in a constant battle about which one is better & who has the better Valborg. Briefly put: It is Lund. Deal with it Uppsala…

Back to the festival. Everything starts on Kvalborg, the night before Valborg. This year it was on a Friday and a major part of the population of Lund, namely its 47,000 students (of an overall 100,000 population), began to celebrate in the student clubs and the housing areas. Music boomed from the speakers since midday all over town & tourists began to arrive.

Party in Parentesen
Party in Parentesen

I spent that day in Parentesen, which is a housing area for students that is well-known for its parties. Sorry for the bad picture…it is the best I could do in my condition at that point in time. Forgive me.

Although it was a cold & windy day a lot of people showed up after their casual “Friday-afternoon System Bolaget walk”. Allow me to explain. System Bolaget is where people buy their booze in Sweden.

Beershelf in System Bolaget
Beershelf in System Bolaget

It is a state liquor store and the only option to buy drinks with more than 3.5% alcohol. One can also get light-beers with up to 3.5% at the 7/11 and other supermarkets. One thing for all you my fellow budget travelers, this is where a major part of your budget will end up being spent. Alcohol is anything but cheap in Sweden. However, the pre-drinking mindset is well-established here, as the pubsclubs are barely affordable. If you go to a regular Irish Pub in Sweden you will pay at least 6-8€ for a pint of beer…Yes, 6-8€. This is why we have student nations, accessible only to students, which have special deals with the government & are able to serve cheaper drinks (0.33l beer for around 2,50€). These nations mainly exist in Lund & Uppsala. Another fun-fact: Those two cities are also the only places in all of Sweden where it is permitted to drink in public, which has an imminent effect on the Valborg festivities in the parks.

So, Parentesen, as well as other places in town started going wild on Friday and to a large extent partied all night. I was doing the only responsible thing and went back early (around 3 am) so I could get up early for Valborg – because that is what it is all about. Due to the unbelievable mass of people coming to the small city of Lund for the party on Saturday you have to be in the park early. This is what a typical Valborg morning looks like:

  • Wake up around 6:30/7am
  • Take a shot of a spirit of your choice, which you wisely placed next to your bed the night before
  • Take a shower, brush your teeth etc.
  • Grab a chair, food, summer clothes, sunglasses, a raincoat, winter boots, a scarf…basically be prepared for any kind of weather
  • Go to the fridge and take out the massive amount of alcohol you have stored
  • Go to Stadsparken (city-park)
  • Arrive no later than 8am to find a decent spot
  • Sit down and enjoy the show
  • Drink
  • Don’t stop drinking

When arriving in the park – after following this morning routine – I was impressed by how many people have already been there. The pictures below were taken at around 8:30.

Valborg morning in Stadsparken
Valborg morning in Stadsparken
Get up early & go to the park
Get up early & go to the park

By 9:30 it was extremely difficult to get anywhere else but your spot. We were a group of around 40 people from different study programs, countries and continents. The day proceeded with live music from the stage and more drinks. True festival vibes were created by the usually reserved Swedish people who – on that day – went all out… Partying, shouting, dancing, singing, drinking, kissing & mating.

Frederik & I in front of the pile of wood
Frederik & I in front of the pile of wood

At around 3pm authorities start to clean the park & everyone goes into town or to private “inbetween-parties”. Frederik & I went to one of those, where we sat around had some more beers & ultimately went for a Lundafalafel, which is the infamous must-have meal in Lund on such a day. Around 8pm everyone gathers back in the park to see a huge bonfire. An about 3 meter high pile of wood is lit. At this time you will also see quite a few families & hear a choir singing. In the video below you can see the fire and hear the choir chant.

At the end of the night I went to nation event. Three of Lund’s student nations gathered together and opened their clubs. Everything from Electro/Dance, over Hip Hop, up to Swedish Folklore & pop music was represented in the clubs. The night went on until 5am for me. I can say it was a long & exhausting two days. The Swede did not quit there though. The day after Valborg they were out partying again at some nations & the parks. They call this last day of the festival “Finalborg“. Some crazy people even add a fourth day and call that one “Katastrophalborg“. Now that I know how things go down I will be prepared for the full 4 days next year! 

Below I have arranged a small list of budget considerations you should have in mind when thinking about attending Valborg. Also, you can get a better idea of the festival here.

Budget:

Activity

Amount in Euro

Flight to & from Copenhagen (Denmark) within Europe, when booked in time

50-100€

Train to & from Lund

25€
Beer in System Bolaget (0.5l & alcohol 3.5% – 10%)

1,20€ – 3,00€

Wine bottle (1l) in System Bolaget

6,50€ – 20€

Spirits in System Bolaget

>20€
Fetsival day in the park

0€

Meeting new people & joining them for “inbetween-parties”

0€

Bonfire

0€

Public transport

0€, because you do not need it in tiny Lund

Accomodation (Hostel) in Lund Pp Night

30€

Accomodation (Hostel) in Malmö (between Copenhagen & Lund) Pp Night

20€

Or just couch-surf or crash at the place of someone you met on Valborg 🙂

0€

All around the long weekend will cost you anything between 150-250€.  I agree that this is anything but cheap but it is also really worth it. If you plan on going to Sweden anyway you should really consider this weekend!

If you have any questions about the festival, Lund, Sweden or the budget just let me know in the comments and I will get back to you right away! 🙂

Thanks for reading this entry, I hope you liked it.

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