Norway's National Independence Celebrated on Constitution Day

Country Flag for Norway
Elin Enger/Getty Images

Independence Day in Norway isn't popular, but instead, Constitution Day is the day of their national celebrations. What other countries call their Independence Day, Norway celebrates on Constitution Day.

When Is Independence Day and Constitution Day?

Norway's actual Independence Day is on June 7. In Norway, Constitution Day falls on May 17. It is Constitution Day, which is the national holiday that is celebrated like other countries' Independence Day.

Constitution Day

So what is so special about May 17? The story behind May 17 represents Norway's act to avoid being ceded to Sweden after losing a protracted and devastating war. The Norwegian constitution was the most modern in Europe at the time.

Constitution Day Celebrations

It's good to know that Norwegians celebrate their national day differently than the other Scandinavian countries, making it an exciting event for travelers. On May 17, visitors and locals alike watch the colorful processions of children with their banners, flags, and bands, as you would see during Independence Day celebrations in many other countries.

This holiday in Norway is a spring celebration with a festive mood throughout the country, especially in the capital of Oslo. In Oslo, the Norwegian royal family waves to the passing processions from the palace balcony.

Another special characteristic that contributes to making Constitution Day a unique holiday is all the beautiful "Bunads" (the traditional Norwegian costumes) you can see the locals wear. What an experience for visitors.

Few Businesses Will Be Open

However, there is one thing to keep in mind. If you are visiting Norway on or around this annual holiday, please know that most businesses will not be open. It is best not to make any plans to go shopping. The May 17 holiday in Norway is a national holiday, with nearly all businesses and shops closed.

The only open businesses are some gas stations, hotels, and many restaurants. But even with restaurants, it is better to double check by calling ahead and asking whether they are open, to be on the safe side.

Plan to spend this day with friends and family in Norway, maybe celebrating the day viewing one of the local processions. Then return home, or to your hotel, so you don't have to depend on any businesses being open at all. (In that case, make sure to bring your camera for the procession.)

Other Names

In Norwegian, the national day is called "Syttende Mai" (May 17th), or Grunnlovsdagen (Constitution Day).

Was this page helpful?