Celebrate Walpurgis Night with Music at LiU

This year it's exactly 50 years ago since the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, for the first time ever, ushered in the spring with song at Linköping Castle.

A group of young men in black sweatshirts with student caps stood on the bed of a truck. The audience consisted of about 10 academics, and the story goes that the county governor’s driver opened a window and asked the choir to be quiet because the governor was taking a nap. Thus, the driver was the inaugural ‘spring speaker’.

Now, after two years with the pandemic, we are delighted to be taking our spring singing tradition to new heights, at the same time as the choir celebrates its 50th anniversary.

On the castle forecourt, you will find a really large choir and several fascinating spring speakers. We suspect that you will also meet lots of friends in the crowd. It's an event not to be missed!

 

We hope that you will join us. Dig out your student cap and join us when we, as tradition dictates, burst into the Student Song at the forecourt of Linköping Castle, at 15:00 on 30 April.

 

This year the event will be even more festive than usual!

 

For more information on Caps on and Spring Song, see lkss.se/valborg

Programme 2022 Show/Hide content

14:00 LiTheBlås marches from St Lars Church.

The parade will stop at Gyllentorget, Trädgårdstorget and Stora torget, before continuing up to the forecourt of Linköping Castle, for a concert at approx. 14.40-14.55. You are welcome to walk with them!

15:00 Linköping University Male Voice Choir welcome the spring with song on the forecourt of Linköping Castle.

The choir will perform traditional spring songs, don their caps and there will be a speech in honour of spring.

 

For the student unions, this year’s speaker will be Beatrice Ronsten, chair of the student union at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (LinTek).
Portrait of a smiling Beatrice in front of a flower wall.Beatrice Ronsten

And our anniversary speaker will be LiU alumni, and speaker of the Swedish parliament, Andreas Norlén.
Photo credit Anna Nilsen

Video of the celebration 2018 Show/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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