Norwegian Labour Day

Labour Day parade 2012 in Oslo

The run of public holidays at this time of year continued today with the traditional 1st May celebration – Labour Day. It also coincided with the first anniversary of my move to Oslo. My, how time flies!

Today was widely predicted to be a “different” 1st May due to the ongoing terror trial, but the day was embraced and celebrated, no doubt helped by the glorious weather, a welcome change for me after an awful weekend of rain on a trip back to England!

To kick the morning off, I took a meandering walk around Sognsvann at the very top of Oslo. I was joined by families, dogs, even ponies! The sun was out, dogs splashed around in the water and I just about resisted the temptation to take one home 🙂

Sognsvann this morning

Ponies at Sognsvann

Back downtown, the annual Labour Day parade kicked off along Karl Johans gate at 1pm. The only two parades I'd seen before today were for Constitution Day and Gay Pride, both very different in style, the former very formal and the latter very extravagant! One word to sum up today's parade would be POLITICAL.

Well, political mixed with some awesome marching bands 🙂

The main themes were a continued opposition to the EU & EEA (EØS in Norwegian), a will to save the Aker Hospital (La Aker Leve!) and a general “jobs for all” message. The red flags were out in force. The general anti-EU feeling was interesting to see given the simultaneous Labour Day marches going on in Greece, Spain and France.

Here's a video shot by Gerry of the marching bands… featuring a little cameo from yours truly at the very end 😉


Oslo Labour Day march

Retro red fire truck in Oslo

There wasn't really much attention given to proceedings at the courthouse, although the scenes in Bergen were somewhat different. Bergen was the home base of many of the young politicians killed on Utøya last year, so Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other Labour party officials headed there to rally their party and Norwegians in general.

But in Oslo, I get the feeling people are saving themselves for the national celebrations on 17th May. It's going to be quite an emotional day this year.

As the day drew to a close, attention turned to football and the first round of the Norwegian Cup. The draw had turned up a pearler of an Oslo derby, Vålerenga playing “away” at old city rivals Lyn. For those unaware of the history, Lyn went bankrupt a few years ago and play in the lower leagues of Norwegian football at Bislett Stadion, where Vålerenga used to play.

The game was featured live on NRK and thankfully, despite a late Lyn rally, Vålerenga clinched a 2-1 win. Here's a photo of the masses in the away end borrowed from @hyllandinho (who I'm sure won't mind!)

Lyn v Vålerenga at Bislett

What a day! Thank you Norway, it's been quite a year.

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

You might like

About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.


  1. feels both longer than a year, and no-where a year since I picked you up at Oslo S, both at the same time!
    So glad you’re still enjoying yourself, and do hope you stick around (much) longer.

  2. Why do the Norwegians want out of the EU? Is it out of protectionism? (Perhaps the subject of a future post…?)

    1. Great question and yes, definitely the topic of a future post! They are in the EEA but outside the EU, hence have to abide by many EU regs (and the reason I was able to move over here very easily!)

      1. Norway’s relationship to the EU is like the Bokmål/Nynorsk question: It’s very complicated and takes much time to explain! 🙂 EU membership has been one of the most dividing issues in Norwegian politics, and EEA could be viewed upon as a national compromise in the matter. Complicated? You bet! A future post is absolutely in order! Lykke til med den, David! 🙂

    2. I think there are several ‘main’ issues.

      1. Norway is a very young country. Only just over 100 years old. And even during that time, we were occupied by German forces. So folk are PROUD of their country and don’t want to lose control.

      This is the biggest reason, I think.

      2. Norway is a socialist country. Within itself. Folk in more populated areas basicall subsidise those in more rural areas (even down to a carton of milk costing roughly the same, despite transport costs being far higher to more remote areas)

      3a. Norwegians expect high quality stuff. A recent article in Aftenposten was about one of the main store (Rema 1000) starting to stock ‘cheaper’ meats, which are pumped with water & salt to increase the weight, in exchange for a cheaper price. Folk were *strongly* against it.

      3b. Norwegians don’t want cheaper INFERIOR stuff in their shops. Yes, they complain about prices (ironically, I find it cheaper here for stuff with wage comparrisons than the UK), but they want quality. And they can and will pay for it.

      4. We just don’t NEED the EU. The EU needs Norway (they see all the cash we have saved away for the future and want to get their grubby hands on it)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *