Valborgsmässoafton in Gothenburg: Massive Audience, Bonfire, Witches, Music


Gothenburg celebrated Valborgsmässoafton, the pagan festival of fertility and growth and harbinger of summer, in Slottskogen. Thousands of Gothenburgers experienced the celebration especially the youth. At half past eight, as the sunlight dimmed on 30 April, the twenty witches arrived and lit the bonfire (Valborgsmässoelden av häxorna), and the grassy lawn (stora Mattan) by Björngårdsvillan in Slottskogen was ablaze with fire. The event was organised by the City of Gothenburg’s districts: Majorna-Linné, Askim-Frölunda-Högsbo och Park-and naturförvaltningen, and also took part by Ungdomssatsningen Göteborg (USGB).

Ungdomssatsningen Göteborg: USGB enables the youth to explore their talents in music, theatre and fine arts. It staged the music scene for the evening participated by different music bands: Jawone, Mollgan, Internet friends, Töcken, Smilla, Josef, Marley, Elianos, Papercuts, Smilla, Klubb tredje lång, and Essence of hiphop.  Marcus Bengtsson, from Ungdomssatsningen Göteborg (USGB) and Göteborgs Stad (City of Gothenburg) said: “It is a tradition that people hang out here, people have barbecue. We chill out all over the park and when the fire lights up and the witches are here, everyone gets closer and gather.” But the goal of the organization is to help the youth to enter into the society with confidence.

“The goal is to set the youth into the society … they all have individual dreams, we try to welcome them, help them and to lead them on the way,” informed Marcus. “They can use rooms, we have music studio, we have rooms for dancing or theatre or editing videos.” Ungdomssatsningen has centres across Gothenburg for the youth in the age group of 16 to 19, and they are at Kulturatom in Angered, Radar 72 in Östra Göteborg, on Hisingen, at Fängelset in Härlanda, at Arena 29 in Majorna and 1200 Kvadret in Frölunda.


Valborgsmässoafton is the Walpurgis night, the eve of May Day, 30 April. Valborgsmässoafton is a medieval Swedish pagan festival. It is observed by lighting up a massive bonfire in the middle of an open area such as in a park. Valborg is the Swedish reference to the eight century German abbess of English origin named St Walpurga. This is one of the traditional Swedish festival like the Midsummer that dates back to years before Christianity arrived in Scandinavia.

An organiser from the City of Gothenburg told that Valborg is observed to say goodbye to the dark and wintry days and to welcome the days of light and spring – the season of growth. During the Middle Ages, the festival is observed to banish the evil spirits, usher the spirits of fertility, burn down the decaying and drying things of winter. In 21st century, it has become a tradition in Gothenburg to gather at Slottskogen for Valborgsmässoafton where tradition and music brings people together to cherish and celebrate life.


Saint Walpurga (Walburga or Wealdburg or Valpurga or Walpurgis or Valderburg or Guibor) lived circa AD 710 –777/779). She was canonized by Pope Adrian II. She is also credited as the first woman writer in England and Germany for she translated the works of her brother from Latin.