Celebration of Norways National Day 17th of May in Oslo.

Photo: Asgeir Helgestad, Visit Norway

How to celebrate May 17th like a true Norwegian

Norway’s Constitution Day on May 17th is a vibrant and joyous celebration, marked by parades, traditional costumes, and lots of ice cream.

If you’re visiting Norway during this festive time, here’s how you can join in the celebrations like a true local.

What’s so special about the May 17th?

Celebrated annually to honor the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814, the 17th of May, or Nasjonaldagen, is characterized by its focus on children and communal joy rather than military might.

It’s a day when the streets fill with the sound of children’s laughter, marching bands, and the vibrant colors of the Norwegian flag.

17 of May parade - Norway’s national day
The traditional parade. Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen, Maverix Media AS

The colorful parades

The heart of the 17th of May celebrations can be seen in the grand children’s parades held across the country.

From the longest parade in Oslo that passes the Royal Palace to the distinctive Buekorps (marching archer brigades) of Bergen, these parades are where communities come together to showcase their pride and joy.

Everyone is welcome to watch and wave the red, white, and blue flags alongside the locals.

A man and a woman in bunads on 17 of May
Bunads (national costumes) on Grunnlovsdagen. Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen, Maverix Media AS

A day for the bunad

The 17th of May is also the perfect occasion to see the bunad, Norway’s traditional costume.

Worn with pride, these meticulously crafted outfits vary regionally, reflecting the cultural heritage of the wearer’s ancestral area.

If you own a bunad, this is the day to wear it with pride!

Eating ice cream on 17 of May
Eating ice cream on 17 of May. Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen, Maverix Media AS

The joy of ice cream and hot dogs

No 17th of May is complete without indulging in copious amounts of ice cream and hot dogs.

This tradition is so beloved that regardless of the weather, you’ll find Norwegians of all ages enjoying these treats throughout the day.

Cheering for the russ

Keep an eye out for the russ, high school seniors in colorful overalls celebrating their last year of school. They add a unique and lively atmosphere to the festivities with their custom-decorated buses and vans.

Don’t hesitate to ask them for a russekort—a personalized card that makes a great souvenir!

Oslo on Norways National Day. Children march with flags.
The parade in front of the Royal Palace. Photo: Nancy Bundt, Visit Norway

Celebrating in Oslo and Bergen

If you’re in Oslo, don’t miss the royal family’s annual appearance at the Royal Palace, where they wave to the parade of schoolchildren and bands.

In Bergen, experience the unique tradition of the Buekorps, who add a historical touch to the celebration with their drumming and marching.

Two friends enjoying the celebrations - 17 of May
Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen, Maverix Media AS

Participate or spectate: You’re welcome either way!

Whether you join a local breakfast gathering, spectate at the parades, or simply stroll through the festively decorated streets, 17th May offers a unique insight into Norwegian culture and communal spirit.

Everyone is invited to partake in the festivities, making it a wonderful opportunity for tourists to experience Norwegian hospitality at its finest.

So, grab a flag or a ribbon in the colors of Norway, and dive into the celebrations of Norway’s Constitution Day, where the joy of the community takes center stage.

Whether you spend the day sampling local delicacies, watching parades, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, the 17th of May in Norway is a day you won’t forget.