Celebrating the 17th of May in Ballard

Dear Neighbors,

Mark your calendars and prepare to embrace your Norwegian spirit! Norwegian Constitution Day is just around the corner, taking place this Wednesday, May 17th.

The Norwegian 17th of May Celebration, known as Syttende Mai [Soot-n-duh My], holds a special place in our hearts as a cherished and long-standing tradition in Seattle since 1889. This festive occasion brings together thousands of spectators who gather along the streets of downtown Ballard to cheer on the parade and immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Norwegian culture.

So, dust off your Norwegian flags, don your Viking hats, and get your bunads ready! Join us as we honor centuries of Norwegian traditions and create unforgettable experiences that celebrate our shared history.


The 17th of May Committee is looking for some energetic, parade-loving volunteers to assist with parade logistics, check-in, and street closure monitoring along the parade route. Shifts are 3:30-8:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17th. Some positions require the ability to briefly lift to 50 lbs to move street closure barricades and have a cell phone for communication.

For additional information and to sign up, please contact 17thofmayseattle@gmail.com or call 206-397-1245.

Festivities, Activities, and Parade Route

There is a full day of activities and festivities planned to honor the day, and the highlight is always the parade through the streets of Ballard. Come early to save your spot. Click here to download a PDF of the Parade Map & Schedule of Events.

  • 10:00 am- 5:00 pm: National Nordic Museum (2655 NW Market St). Children’s activities include Fjord Horses and the Nordic Express Train.
  • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Bergen Place Musical Entertainment (5450 22nd Ave NW). Hosts Lori Ann Reinhall and Eric Stavney with Nordic musical guests. Guest of honor will be Adrian Diaz, Seattle’s Chief of Police, speaking at 4:30 p.m.
  • 6:00pm – 8:00pm.: 17th of May Ballard Parade. The parade starts at NW 62nd St and 24th Ave NW, travels south until NW Market St, then east to 22nd Ave NW, south to Ballard Ave NW, and finishes at Ballard Ave and Lone.

What IS syttende mai?

Norwegian Constitution Day is the official National Day of Norway, celebrated on the 17th of May. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as “Syttende Mai” (17th of May) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day).

The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll, Norway on May 17, 1814, declaring Norway as an independent nation. The celebration of this day began spontaneously among students and other people even though Norway didn’t become fully independent from Sweden until 1905.

Today, all over Norway children parade with an abundance of flags. Each elementary school district arranges its parade with marching bands between schools. The parade takes the children through the community, often making stops at the homes of senior citizens, war memorials, etc. The longest parade is in Oslo, where some 100,000 people travel to participate in the festivities. The Oslo parade includes close to 100 schools and marching bands and passes by the Royal Palace, where the Royal Family greets the people from the main balcony.

Outside of Norway, Norwegians all over the world celebrate the 17th of May with parades, speeches, and more. The Norwegian-American community of Seattle has celebrated the 17th of May since 1889, the same year Washington became a state. With the addition of a large-scale community parade in 1974, this event has proudly become one of the largest celebrations outside of Oslo and Bergen. As we say in Ballard, Hipp Hipp Hipp Hurra!