Norway’s Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the Norwegian constitution in Eidsvoll in 1814.
Around 30,000 schoolchildren from 130 schools marched through the streets of Oslo, a new record number of participants.
The fantastic weather ensured the streets of Norway’s capital city were flooded with a mix of buoyant Norwegians, graduating high school students and confused tourists to watch the children’s parade in the late morning.
The children’s parade (or children’s train as it’s known in Norwegian) is a feature of May 17 celebrations up and down the country, but by far the biggest takes place in Oslo. The parade culminates in front of the Royal Palace, where Norway’s Royal Family spend hours waving at the city’s youth.
Children from Høybråten school kicked off proceedings at 10 am and the parade ended with Oslo katedralskole almost four hours later. The Norwegian-German school, the French school in Oslo and the Northern Light international school were among the participants.
The day began as always in a quieter fashion with the laying of wreaths to remember the fallen over the years. The theme of war and conflict was fresh in many people’s minds this year, according to Oslo mayor Marianne Borgen. “Having 30,000 kids who celebrate our democracy, peace and community is extra important now when many experience insecurity due to war and conflict,” she told NRK.
Norway has taken in many refugees from Ukraine in the past months and they were included in the day’s celebrations in many parts of the country. Ålesund local Elise Aasen said a local choir sang both the Norwegian and Ukrainian national anthems at the beginning of the day’s celebrations. “As war is raging to the east of us we have learned to appreciate peace and freedom,” she added.
As with most other national day celebrations around the world, food is an important part of the day for most Norwegians. May 17 breakfasts are often lavish, including salmon and a glass of champagne. Later in the day, friends and family often gather at home or in restaurants to spend hours celebrating the day over a multi-course meal.
Once the children’s parade was over, other events took place throughout the day across the city. Many restaurants and other venues were fully booked well in advance but with stalls selling hot dogs and waffles around every corner, no one went hungry. Just to the east of central Oslo, Grønland hosted a funfair where ice cream vendors did a roaring trade.
During the afternoon, the grounds of Akershus Castle hosted a classical music concert. Hundreds of people gathered for the free concert featuring Oslo Symphony Orchestra and talented musicians from Oslo schools.
The grounds of the castle were a popular spot throughout the day, as were the waterfront bars and restaurants on Aker Brygge. It was standing room only in the bars throughout the sun-drenched afternoon.