Syttende Mai Celebration

Location: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa 52101
Event Date: Thu, May 17, 2018
Contact Person: or 563.382.9681

Syttende Mai Celebration

Are you ready to march in a parade and dance in the streets? Join Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center, to celebrate Syttende Mai, Norway's Constitution Day.

Vesterheim Museum celebrates Syttende Mai with a traditional Children’s Parade through the streets of Decorah, a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, guided tours, and other activities. Museum admission is free all day and the museum and store will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Syttende Mai at Vesterheim is sponsored by Jeff and Marilyn Roverud of Decorah, Iowa and Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge #503.

Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll and Norwegians celebrate with excited crowds—especially children—marching through the streets, waving flags and singing songs.

Gather for the Children's Parade at 11:45 pm at the Winneshiek County Courthouse. The parade begins at 12:00 pm and everyone is invited to march along. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street.

At 12:25 pm, receive a Vesterheim welcome and a Nordic Dancers performance on Mill Street (next to the museum). Visitors are invited to dance, too! There will be guided tours of the historic buildings in Vesterheim’s Open Air Division at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm.

At 11:00 am, Zach Row-Heyveld, Vesterheim Exhibition Manager, will give a gallery talk in the exhibit, “Rocks and Hard Places: Emigration through the Lens of Knud Knudsen.” This exhibit explores emigration through first person accounts, family histories, and the stunning black and white photography of Norwegian Knud Knudsen.

In case of inclement weather, the parade and Nordic Dancers will be canceled. 

The Nordic Dancers began in Decorah in 1966 and include two groups of dancers (one older; one younger). The dancers begin as third graders and make a 10-year commitment to continue through high school. They perform every year at various area festivals and traveled to Norway in 2016.

With world-class exhibitions and 12 historic buildings in scenic Decorah, Iowa, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, showcases the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts, and explores the American immigrant experience. This national treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year.

For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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