How to celebrate 17th of May in the UK

17th of May marks the Norwegian Constitution Day, and your Norwegian friends have already started to make plans for the day. Join in on the celebration in the UK this year.


Every 17th of May – an official national holiday in Norway – Norwegians flock to the streets, wearing their finest clothes and traditional bunads, eating hot dogs with ketchup and melting ice creams, parading, singing the national anthem and waving to the royal family. They celebrate the Norwegian Constitution Day, marking the anniversary of Norway’s independence from Denmark in 1814.

Still haven’t quite got your head around it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Read Luke Slater’s An outsider’s guide to 17th of May as he explores the Norwegian celebration in Oslo.

Bunad dressed people at Karl Johans gate on 17 May. Photo: private

Bunad dressed people at Karl Johans gate on 17 May. Photo: private

This year we invite all our British friends to take part in the celebration. Yes – Norwegians celebrate 17th of May wherever they are, also here in the UK. We have gathered a list of where to go and what to do for 17th of May this year.

Breakfast at Scandinavian Kitchen

Head over to Scandinavian Kitchen’s pop-up restaurant in Southwark Park for a traditional 17th of May Breakfast, which usually entails salmon, scrambled eggs and anything else you could ever wish to put on your hot bread rolls. Don’t forget to pre-book.


Official programme in Southwark Park

From 11am in Southwark Park, there will be live music, hoisting of the flag, a speech from Norwegian Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen as well as the traditional 17th of May parade through the park. Throughout the day, you can buy Norwegian flags, hot dogs and ice creams and from 2pm – 4pm, there will be traditional children’s games. Click here to see full programme.

Dinner at Aquvit Restaurant

With a special 17th of May Nordic menu were all dessert options includes ice cream to honour the tradition of much ice cream on this day for both children and adults. Make sure to book a table.

Photo: Aquavit London

Aquavit London

Events at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church

Start the day with the traditional morning service at 11am followed by the band SMK 1919 performing the distinct 17th of May music, leading the way to Southwark Park. In the evening, Nasjonalfesten (The National Party) takes place at 7pm, attended by the Lord Mayor of London. Follow this link for more information and tickets.

17th of May in Edinburgh

The celebration in Edinburgh starts with a traditional breakfast at Ghillie Dhu at 10am. Meet at St. Andrews Square at 12:15pm and join the parade through Edinburgh. At the end, there will be a ceremony by the Norwegian Brigade Memorial in Princes Street Gardens followed by traditional children’s games. The day will conclude with a dinner. Click here for more information and tickets.

17th of May in Cardiff

The parade in Cardiff will leave the Wales Millennium Centre at 10:50am, ending at the Norwegian church where the Traditional Memorial Wreath Ceremony takes place, followed by Norwegian waffles and coffee. Find out more here.

17th of May on Orkney

Starting at 10:30am with a memory service at St. Olav’s Cemetery in Kirkwall, there will be a packed 17th of May programme throughout the day and evening. Find out more here.