The weather was amazing, the drinks were flowing, and Lund’s Stadspark (City Park) had a record number of visitors—25,000 people crammed together to party the day away. There were already 1,000 people laying claim to their territory at 9:30 am, and despite their early start, they were overrun by the floods of people crowding in afterwards.
I started off the day with a champagne breakfast at our friends’ house and made it to the park around 10:00. At that point, it was already hard to move through the patchwork of blankets, picnic baskets, and partiers.
Even as my friends and I gathered for breakfast, there was an excited tension in the air—excitement, enthusiasm, a fair amount of tiredness, and the sort of nervous energy that comes before an important event. There had been so much build up for Valborg before the big day that I had begun to feel a little skeptical about the hype.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. Valborg. It’s cool.”
As I walked with everyone to the park, though, it was clear to me that my friends hadn’t overstated the Valborg mania that takes over Lund. The good weather only amplified the effect.
Good friends, sunshine, and warm weather: Valborg couldn't get any better than that. Photos: Kate Wiseman.
Normally Lund is a fairly sleepy town, so I was totally unprepared for the madness at the park. In my mind, I expected mild-mannered picnicking and slightly rowdy groups of students punctuating a generally well-behaved crowd. Instead, I was met by hordes of people, mostly between 15 and 30 years old, dancing, drinking, making out, sprawled out in beach chairs and on blankets… but somehow all this was accompanied by the overwhelming feeling of everyone being incredibly happy. Outside of similar party weekends at college, I’ve never experienced such a feeling of mass euphoria. Everyone was just radiating a party mood.
Sometimes when you get a huge crowd of people in a small area, it can start feeling dangerous or out of control. That was definitely not the case in Lund. If nothing else, than the well-mannered lines for the Porta-Potties can be a testament to the respect that Swedes have for order, even when the call of nature and drunkenness were clouding good decision-making in other areas.
And of course, since it’s Sweden, everyone was ridiculously good looking. I saw so many girls wearing shirts intentionally baring their stomachs, and while I question the logic behind the look, I wasn’t disgusted by a single one. Now there’s something that’s special to Sweden. You know if it had been Austria or the United States, there would have been an incredible number of beer bellies and muffin tops on display. Not in Sweden.
Everything started getting a little fuzzy around early afternoon. Considering that I started out the day at 8 in the morning with champagne in one hand, coffee in another, it probably should come as no surprise that I crashed and burned around 3 pm… but waking up around dinner time with a pounding headache was a sad moment for me as a 20-something. My only conclusion is that I am old and weak and terrible at partying. Next year I’ll be in training so that I’m fit to fight.
I missed the bonfires, but I bicycled through town later that evening to go to another friend’s house for a party. It was a little like bicycling through an alternate reality. There was trash everywhere. It wasn’t just me—the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported today that Lund’s Valborg had gone without any major mishaps but that the town was “dirtier than ever before.” Seriously.
The aftermath of Valborg in Lund... a far from ordinary scene. Photo: Kate Wiseman.
If the original purpose of Valborg was to celebrate the arrival of spring, then mission accomplished.
Final score for the day: Valborg 1, Kate 0. Valborg earned the win with the midday knockout, but I’ll be back stronger and meaner next year. And next time I’ll make it to the bonfires!
Useful phrases for Valborg in Lund:
Remember the sunscreen. Kom ihåg solkrämen.
I’ll meet you in the park! Vi ses i parken.
Lawn chair Brassestol
“Make every other drink a water.” Drick varannan vatten. (Swedish saying.)
Where are the bathrooms? Var är toaletterna?
It’s time to light the fire. Det är dags att tända elden.
Oooh, fire. It’s burning. Oooh, eld. Det brinner.
I am hung over. Jag är bakfyll.
Coffee, please. Kaffe, tack.