Every year during Ólavsøka, thousands of people gather in the streets of the country’s capital to celebrate Faroese culture. People walk up and down Tórshavn’s streets, many dressed in the colourful national Faroese costume, greeting friends and acquaintances and partaking in jovial celebrations.
A host of sporting, music and cultural activities are on offer during the two-day celebration, such as the national rowing race, football matches, concerts and art exhibitions. Restaurants are open late, giving you a chance to try both traditional Faroese dishes and foreign food. Ólavsøka is also the annual opening of the Løgting (Faroese parliament), when parliament is officially in session again after the summer holidays.
The celebrations culminate in a grand finale at midnight on 29 July when a large crowd gathers in the town square to sing old and new Faroese ballads and dance the traditional Faroese chain dance (Midnáttarsangur, translated as Midnight Song).
Ólavsøka was originally a memorial feast for the Norwegian King Olav the Holy, who was killed in the battle of Stiklestad, in Norway, on 29 July, 1030. His death is thought to have contributed to the subsequent Christianisation of Norway, and thus also the Faroe Islands.
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