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.

Why do we celebrate walpurgis eve in Uppsala?

Key events – what not to miss

  • 10:00 Running the Falls of the Fyris River
  • 11:45 Herring lunch at Uppsala Concert & Congress
  • 14:00 Band Wijkmanska Blecket plays by the University Library
  • 14:45–15:59 Uppsala University's shiny Walpurgis pin is handed out in front of the University Library
  • 15:00 Donning of the Caps by the University Library
  • 15:05 Orphei Drängar’s concert by the University Library
  • 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 10.00. 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.

Rektor Eva Åkesson i Forsränningen 2013.
Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson became the first Vice-Chancellor to take part in the Running of the Falls when she in 2013 glided down the Fyris River together with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg and then University Director Ann Fust in a floating version of the University Main Building.

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.