Valborg 2018: 6 Ways To Make Friends and Celebrate in Style at Sweden’s Biggest Party

Believe it or not, Spring has almost arrived in Sweden. The sun’s coming out, flowers are blooming and it’s only raining about 80% of the time now. The 30th of April can only mean one thing — Valborg. Also known as Walpurgis Eve or, imaginatively, “Siste April” (the last day of April), this national celebration featuring drinking, bonfires, drinking, music and drinking heralds the arrival of Spring and the “good” weather. Good being a subjective term of course.

But just what do you need to know to fit in at the big Valborg shindig near you? Never fear, Panion’s here to give you all the info you need to help you make friends at this year’s celebration.

  1. It’s all about starting early

Traditionally, Valborg kicks off early in the morning with a light breakfast of champagne and strawberries. Get yourself to System Bolaget well in advance to stock up on your booze supplies or be prepared to face crazy queues, and if you’re planning on attending one of the big municipal celebrations send one or two friends down to the park early to nab the best location. We’re talking 5 or 6 am.

2. Build a camp. Protect it with your life.

Whilst many Valborg celebrations are comparatively genteel, if you want to see true chaos head to Lund or Uppsala, the two biggest university towns. At these celebrations the city parks fill with thousands of young people who have, you’ll remember, been drinking since first thing in the morning. That’s why it’s especially important to have scouted out for a good location early, as this will be your base of operations for the rest of the day. Build a barrier around your camp with bags, chairs, boxes, windbreaks or sturdy sleeping friends in order to prevent the inevitable deluge of lost students drunkenly wandering across your picnic blanket in a vain attempt to find their way to the toilets.

3. Kläder efter väder

Ah, springtime…

Sure, Valborg is all about celebrating the start of Springtime but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this is Sweden after all — the only thing predictable about the weather here is its unpredictability! You’ll want to make sure you’ve got sunscreen, umbrellas, sunglasses and raincoats. You’ll probably need all of them at some point. Bringing spares can be a great way to endear yourself and make friends with strangers, and if the weather is especially bad offering an extra umbrella can mean you’re worshipped as a god.

4. Stock up on supplies

Speaking of things to bring, make sure you’ve got plenty of water. It’s vital for keeping hydrated, sobering up drunk friends and cleaning off whatever it is that you sat in. Bringing some furniture is always a good idea, though remember that as hilarious as it may sound beforehand to bring a three-seater sofa to the park, it’s a lot less fun having to carry it back home when you’re sunburnt and feeling a little worse for wear. Stick with folding chairs.

5. Bring games

Playing cards is a must, though good luck finding them all when it’s time to go home. If you really want to make friends with those around you, bring a football or a Frisbee — you’ll start attracting hordes of excited Swedes like sporty moths to a flame. Valborg is an excuse for usually reserved Swedish people to be sociable, so if you’re ever in possession of a football for more than 30 seconds don’t be surprised if you’re tackled by a complete stranger. Just note that it’s considered impolite to dive in for a two-footed slide tackle as revenge, especially if the stranger is a child.

6. Be considerate

Despite the fact it might seem like Valborg is nothing but an excuse for drunken revelry, it’s important to remember that the real fun of any big celebration is socialising in a positive way. Not everything revolves around drinking. A proper Valborg celebration features traditional Swedish folk songs, preferably with a choir or a ‘gubbe’ — an elderly, most likely slightly eccentric man — playing the squeezebox, a huge bonfire, lots of food and plenty of dancing. It’s all about being neighbourly and sharing the experience with those around you, so bring some extra food to share, invite strangers to join your card games and start a lively debate about which ABBA song is the best.

If you want to find more people to celebrate Valborg with download Panion to find friends near you.
  • Dan, Squeezebox Gubbe, Panion