Ballard braces for big Norwegian Constitution Day party

(Photo from Flickr by Anne Wormer)
(Photo from Flickr by Anne Wormer)

Get ready to break out your bunad and celebrate Norwegian culture!

Norwegian Constitution Day is right around the corner on Monday, May 17, and Ballard sports one of the largest celebrations outside of Norway, according to organizers.

“That’s what they claim, it probably is. The one in Brooklyn is actually pretty good,” said Terje Leiren, chair of Norwegian Studies at University of Washington.

Either way, the Norwegian community in Ballard is putting on an all day event to celebrate this national holiday with musical performances, traditional dancing, and a parade to wrap up the evening.

“Seattle’s [parade] is always on the exact date,” Leiren said, comparing the parade to others across the country. Usually other cities hold the parade on a weekend close to May 17th.

The celebration in Seattle is different than celebrations in Norway. According to Terje, the largest celebration is in Oslo, consisting of mostly students marching in the parade.

“It’s traditional that children are involved in this,” Terje said. Also, there is a lot more marching versus observing in the parade.

“I’ve been in the parade multiple times,” Henry Moen said. Moen and members of his family have been involved in the Norwegian community for years. His grandma used to be part of the Norwegian Ladies Chorus, which will be performing in this year’s festivities.

“There’s a lot of Norwegian pride in Ballard,” Moen said.

If you can’t make it to the celebration in Ballard, there are a few other ways to celebrate Norway and its independence. The Nordic Heritage Museum has multiple exhibitions celebrating and showcasing Nordic culture and art. The Nordic Cafe offers light Norwegian fare if you want to dabble in the food side of celebrating. And if you’re up for a ferry ride, head over to Poulsbo for Viking Fest this weekend.

For more information about Ballard’s May 17 parade, visit