Ólavsøka (St Olav's Wake) 29th July
The Faroese national holiday Ólavsøka (St Olav’s Wake) takes place on the 29th of July each year. It marks the reopening of the Ting, or Parliament, and commemorates the death of St Olav at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030.
Celebrations take place in the capital Tórshavn every year. The event begins on the evening of the 28th, with a procession through the town, led by men on horseback with the Faroese flag at the front. This is followed by the eagerly awaited annual rowing race, where the champions of the summer’s competitions will be decided. There are a number of other events going on throughout the day, including swimming, football, political and religious meetings as well as an exhibition which includes information on the THING Project, held in Monkastova.
The Ting is formally opened on the 29th. At 11am a procession heads from the Thinghús to the Cathedral, where a service is held. The procession then returns to the Thinghús, where people have gathered outside to wait for them. Songs are sung by the Ólavsøku Choir, and everyone around joins in. In the afternoon the Prime Minister gives a speech formally opening the parliament for the year. The rest of the day is spent celebrating. At midnight people meet in the town square for more singing and traditional Faroese ring dancing, and if the weather is right, it is not uncommon for the celebrations to continue into the early hours of the next morning!
There are also a number of concerts, family and sporting events which run from the 26th until the 31st of July. For more information about what is going on, view the programme here (in Faroese). Highlights from the programme in English are also available here.