Ólavsøka, the national holiday of the Faroe Islands on July 28th-29th, is set to become another spectacular display of festivities this year with an impressive array of public events.
The festival brings together the Faroese people like no other holiday from near and afar, with many expatriates using the occasion to come and meet friends and acquaintances and, not least, receive that special injection of everything Faroese that only Ólavsøka will provide.
The national holiday is not merely the high point of several important social activities of the year ranging from politics to sports to cultural events — it’s the undisputed main gathering arena for the Faroese, the scene of the annual transformation of the capital Tórshavn, with tens of thousands in the streets. For Tórshavn’s flurry of sports clubs and societies of all sorts that depend on grants, sponsorships and volunteerism, Ólavsøka is a crucial occasion for generating much-needed cash from sales of goods and services — from event tickets to punch balloons to party favors to snacks and beverages. And the Faroese love to support structured social activities, be it sports, music, arts, drama, religious gatherings and what not.
The actual two-day duration of the festival is normally extended on both ends, with some more or less major events taking place a day earlier and some programs lasting beyond July 29th itself.
This year’s iteration of the Ólavsøka will indeed be complete and full-fledged, now that the public health issues overshadowing two consecutive seasons are widely considered unlikely to reappear in the short term. Last year’s national holiday was, against all odds, indeed properly celebrated as ordered by Mayor Heðin Mortensen, despite warnings from influential corners. So this time around a real Ólavsøka is indeed on the cards, unfettered by any extraordinary health-related restrictions on public gatherings.
Pre-Ólavsøka festivities kick off on July 27th. This year’s program includes a selection of art exhibits and performances all over Tórshavn, among them a photographic exhibition at Smiðjan in Lítluvík titled “Faroe Islands, 100 Years of Cars”, following the 100th year since the first car arrived in the Faroe Islands, as well as this year’s seasonal exhibition at Listasavn Føroya titled “Skøra”.
The program also features other traditional Ólavsøka elements including the opening of the season’s parliament session on July 29th with the Prime Minister’s special address; the highly popular rowing races on July 28th; and the spectacular Midnight Sing-along in central Tórshavn.