Olavsøka - Summer in Tórshavn
Tórshavn transforms every year on 28 and 29 July and becomes a focal point for all the Faroes. They gather in the city in their national costumes for a multitude of events, parties, singing and dancing. Nobody works during Olaifest, and the city is full of life, exhibitions and ceremonies.
The locals retrieve their colourful national costumes from their closets and dress for the festivities. National costumes are made by hand and demonstrate the classic Faroese crafts. The bright colored costumes feature fine handmade silver buckles and buttons. Silver is expensive, so it is a tradition to give silver buttons and buckles as a gift for family and friends, and in this way the costume develops and becomes ever more delicate and costly.
28th of July - Parade and boat racing
Festivities commence on 28 July with a parade through the streets, followed by a rowing competition. Here young people from the different villages compete to win the title as the fastest Faroe on the water. Taking place in the harbor off Tinganes, the small 6-seater wooden boats are expertly guided in the race to the finish line. It is fascinating to follow the mood and energy that goes into the competition and the rush of the crowd when the first boats cross the finish line. Rowing is the Faroese national sport, and there is great prestige in winning the race.
29th of July - opening of the Lagting
29 July is the day of the official opening of the Lagting, the Faroese parliament in Tórshavn. The opening starts with a church service for the officials and Prime Minister. Then everybody proceeds to the Lagting and declares it opened. At midnight, over five thousand Faroese and guests meet in the city center for community singing, followed by singing and chaindancing in the bright summer night. It is a wonderful spectacle seeing the festively dressed Faroese, showing their love for their country and for each other.
Singing and chaindancing in the streets of Tórshavn
During the chaindance folksongs are being sung about heroes and legends. The Faroese chaindance is a simple dance with people holding hands and stepping alternately to the right and left to the beat of the music. The dance is very social and anyone can join. When the song becomes more dramatic, people trample harder with their feet so the atmosphere follows the story. At Olaifest, Tórshavn is filled with dancing Faroese people in colorful costumes as well as guests who have joined the chain and become part of the party.
The dancing and singing is an amazing experience and if you are in Tórshavn on July 28 to 29 you should join in. All you have to do is go down the street and take your Faroese neighbors by the hand and dance.
The Faroese meet their guests
Olaifest is a unifying event in the Faroe Islands. Here, all locals and guests have the opportunity to meet each other. During the celebrations the locals greet their friends and acquaintances from other villages, whom they have not seen for a long time, and share a schnapps from the flask.
Friendship and the joy of summer are at the core of this two-day party, and it is an experience of a lifetime to one day find yourselves there, hand in hand with your fellow men and women, while the music plays and you move around as a single organism through the streets of Tórshavn.