Planning your Faroe Islands holiday: 29 July

Don't miss Faroese National Day – 29 July – A day of celebration.

In the Faroe Islands the old Viking traditions still occur. At the Olav's-Festival each year when The Lagting (Parliament) opens, the market and games takes place just as they did when this national holiday was first introduced 1000 years ago. In the Faroe Islands, today's Lagting (Parliament) is a direct descendant of the Viking institution and has kept its original name - Lagting.

The Faroese National Day, referred to as St. Olav’s Day - is celebrated for many days prior, but the main day is on 29th July. This along with Ólavsøka midsummer festival is one of the most popular and admirable events held in Torshavn.

Prior to the Reformation the Wake of St. Olav was an important religious festival in Norway and the Norwegian tributary countries, of which the Faroes were one. The Norwegian king Olav the Holy died on the 29th of July, 1030 in the battle at Stiklestad, and every year on that day Norway’s patron saint is commemorated. Nowadays, the day is mainly a day of celebration and the entire town and visitors share the joyfulness.

Ólavsøka is not only the National Day, but also a cultural and sports festival with boat races, football matches and a variety of other festive events such as: art exhibitions, folk music, concerts and Faroese chain dancing.

Like several other Faroese holidays, the holiday commences the evening prior, thus Ólavsøka always starts on July 28 with an official opening ceremony. After all the days packed with activities, on the last day at midnight, everyone gathers to sing in the centre of the town. The streets are full of people, no matter what the weather, and the vast majority of people are dressed in the national dress and they all join in the singing. It is a touching display of companionship, which is not seen many places in the world.

If you happen to plan a trip to the Faroe Islands during European summer time, keep this date in mind as it would be quite a remarkable day to be in Torshavn.