Celebrate Walpurgis Night with Music at LiU

Walpurgis Night in Borggården becomes Virtualborg at home – with hat donning ceremony, spring-themed songs and speeches

Walpurgis Night in the Borggården at Linköping Castle has become an important tradition for the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, students and Linköping residents. It is here and now that we celebrate the arrival of spring. This year, just as many other events, the celebration will take place remotely. It goes without saying that we will offer traditional spring-themed songs, a hat donning ceremony, and speeches, this year from Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, vice-chancellor of Linköping University, Carl Fredrik Graf, county governor, and August Goldhahn, president of the StuFF student union.

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For nearly 50 years now, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir has arranged a hat donning ceremony and welcomed spring with song in Borggården at Linköping Castle on Walpurgis Night, a wonderful and highly appreciated part of the Linköping celebrations on this special day. The tradition had to be changed last year as a consequence of the pandemic, and we were treated to a remote event instead. Participation broke all records, with over 3,000 viewings on and immediately after Walpurgis Night. Again this year, physical celebrations in Borggården are not possible, and the Linköping University Male Voice Choir has been forced to realign.

“Walpurgis Night is an important tradition for many people, and we are longing to offer hope and spring joy to our audience again this year. In 2018, we used digital methods to broadcast from the live performance in Borggården. This makes it possible for many more people to take part in the celebrations, which is a wonderful and important feeling”, says Christina Hörnell, conductor of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir. “Most of all, of course,” she continues, “we would like to sing together and meet the audience live, but while we wait for this to be possible, we are this year releasing a film. We see this as the best solution. Now we hope to beat last year’s record for the number of participants.”
The Linköping University Male Voice Choir and conductor Christnina HörnellThe Linköping University Male Voice Choir and conductor Christina HörnellThe new film, produced by Björn Rallare, will be released on Walpurgis Night, 30 April 2021. It includes a traditional hat donning ceremony, spring-themed songs in new guises, and speeches from Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, vice-chancellor of Linköping University, Carl Fredrik Graf, county governor, and August Goldhahn, chairman of the StuFF student union, who also is song artist and managing chairman of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir.

Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, vice-chancellor of Linköping University

August Goldhahn, President of the StuFF student union.
Carl Fredrik Graf, County governor.

Get your student hat out from the wardrobe and join in, but at home. We look forward to seeing you at a rather different Walpurgis Night celebration! 

When: 30 April, 3.00 pm 
Link to the Walpurgis Night film: lkss.se/valborg.
The film will remain available for viewing after the event. 
For more information, please contact:
Christina Hörnell, conductor of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir
070-089 6922

Video of the celebration 2018Show/Hide content

Linköping University Male Voice Choir at Borggården 2018

Video from last year's performance at Borggården on Walpurgis Night.

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Walpurgis Night and hat donning ceremony in Linköping

How did the tradition of Walpurgis Night celebration start, and who was the first to hold a spring speech? Read more about the first performance at Borggården and how traditions have developed over the years. 

In 1973, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir sang in Borggården for the first time to welcome the spring. Around 20 men wearing black jerseys and student hats performed under the direction of Jan Tengström, and the event was thoroughly documented by a photographer. The audience consisted of approximately 10 academics, and legend has it that the chauffeur of the county governor, Per Eckerberg, became the first to “give a speech” at the ceremony, when he opened a window and asked the choir to go away, since the county governor was taking an after-lunch nap. At this performance, the choir members stood on the ground with their backs to the castle wall.

Every Walpurgis Night since then, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir has performed at Borggården. The current choir members are supplemented every year by previous members – singers who are happy to return to Linköping to take part in the traditional celebration. It’s possible to determine the vintage of these previous students by the degree of yellowing of their student hats. The singers also wear the jerseys that they had when active in the choir, and since the colour has been changed through the years these jerseys are also a colourful and eye-catching detail on stage.

When Hans Lundgren took up his post as conductor for the choir in 1979, it performed from the back of a truck on the western side of the courtyard, but when county governor Björn Eriksson retired in 2009, the “Björn Eriksson stage” was erected in his honour on the eastern side. The stage is an ingenious artwork that is normally displayed in pieces in various locations around the park next to Borggården. The pieces are brought together and built to form the stage in time for each Walpurgis Night. This construction work is arranged by Linköping Municipality.
The location of the stage means that the sun, in years when the weather gods smile on us, functions as stage lighting, while the audience has the cathedral, Stadshuset and downtown Linköping as backdrop to the choir.
The programme for the celebration is fixed by tradition. The student orchestra LiTHe Blås parades through the town from St. Lars Church and arrives at Borggården in the afternoon, where they perform and entertain, greatly appreciated by all. The Linköping University Male Voice Choir then opens its programme of spring-themed songs in Borggården, at precisely 3.00 pm.

Walpurgis Night is one of the most prominent celebrations at several institutions of higher education, both in Finland and in Sweden. It is on 30 April that the students don their student hats, or summer hats, in cases where the hats differ according to the season. The hat donning ceremony in Linköping is marked with a resounding and unanimous “Hooray!” after the first song. The courtyard is filled for the occasion with a curious audience all longing for spring, and around a thousand people come to watch every year, no matter what the weather. The Walpurgis Night celebration includes, as usual, speeches to welcome spring. In Linköping every year, we generously present two speeches to the audience. One is given by a representative of one of the university’s student unions, while the other by a representative of the teaching staff, local society, or Region Östergötland. The spring songs of the students unite the spring speeches, and if they are successful in their intent, the sun will announce its arrival and dazzle the conductor, who for the occasion is director musices at Linköping University, when she extends a warm welcome to the sun on its return! 

The Linköping University Male Voice Choir was founded as long ago as 1972, when it was known as Lihkören, by enthusiastic students at what was at the time Linköping University College (LiH – from which the name “LihKören” comes). The name “Linköping University Male Voice Choir” was adopted in 2011 to emphasise the link to the tradition of academic male voice choirs. The choir recruits singers from all faculties of the university and from outside, in order to ensure the highest possible music quality.

Photo credit Göran BillesonThe student orchestra LiTHe Blås was founded by the 28-year-old fixer Leif Holm, at what was then the Linköping University College, in preparation for the first festival of student orchestras (SOF) in 1973. The activity of the orchestra has since then been strongly linked to this annual festival. Initially, the orchestra consisted of around 10 musicians wearing borrowed tailcoats from the recently disbanded Skohornen orchestra in Örebro. The orchestra has become a large and dynamic ensemble, and enjoys an enriching collaboration with the BlåsYran ballet company. According to tradition, the students held a champagne breakfast in Trädgårdsföreningen, watching a rally of home-built go-carts, arranged by the student nations, during the period 1987-2000. Since then, LiThe Blås has also joined in with the celebrations at Borggården.

Photo credit Daniel Haggmyr

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