MAY 15 - 17, 2020


Friday • 9am – 10pm
Saturday • 9am – 10pm
Sunday • 9am – 5pm

Celebrate Norwegian Heritage at the Syttende Mai Festival!

Stoughton's Syttende Mai festival is a weekend-long celebration of Norwegian heritage featuring fun activities and cultural experiences for the whole family. Come join us for three days of parades, amazing food and drink, arts and music, athletic competitions, and kids’ activities steeped in centuries of Norwegian culture.

The city-wide festival takes place every year on the weekend closest to Norway’s May 17th Constitution Day, also known as Syttende Mai. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Stoughton enjoyed an influx of Norwegians, and at one time, as many as 75 percent of its residents spoke Norwegian. These immigrants celebrated Syttende Mai unofficially, but it became an annual, city-wide tradition in the 1950s. 2020 marks the 67th consecutive year the festival has been organized by the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce.

Below are some of the exciting activities that were at last year's festival...

Stoughton Norwegian Dancers

The community is proud to present the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers, a dance troupe who delight audiences with their intricate footwork, athleticism, and enthusiasm for traditional Norwegian culture.

Since 1952, the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers have been a local treasure. Clad in traditional Norwegian costumes, or bunad, and dancing to music from the fjords, the troupe’s colorful and captivating performances are in demand nationwide. From Arizona to Washington, Virginia to Wisconsin, these dancers are renowned for their astonishing skill and youthful sense of fun.

You'll be able to see the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers and their traditional folk performances every day during the three-day Syttende Mai festival. Don't miss it!

Fun Athletics for the Whole Family

Get set to run, walk, or row your way through town in one of Syttende Mai's many athletic events. Competitions range in intensity from the 20-Mile Run beginning in downtown Madison to the kid-friendly Lil' Community Run. Cross the waters of the Yahara River in our canoe race, or test your inner Viking in the strongman competition. Click the links below for more details. 

Live Performances

Syttende Mai invites you to experience Norwegian culture through an exciting variety of musical performances, dancing, and theater. 


Crowning the Syttende Mai Royalty

Come join us for the crowning of Syttende Mai's event ambassadors in a tradition that spans five decades. Stoughton’s Syttende Mai royalty kick off the three-day event and declare the weekend a statewide celebration.

Those who wear the Syttende Mai crown receive the honor for their commitment to community service and keeping the local Norwegian culture alive. Each year, a couple learns of their nomination in September and must keep it a secret from everyone, even friends and family, for five months. During the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers’ February Norse Afternoon of Fun, the new king and queen receive their crowns and join previous years’ honorees.

Although their reign is symbolic, the annual Syttende Mai King and Queen dress in traditional Norwegian clothing, or bunad, for the entire festival. In addition to opening the festival, the couple attend more than 40 events over the weekend. They are the festival’s icons and serve as cultural ambassadors to visitors. Have questions about the Norwegian cultural demonstrations, colors, music, foods and costumes you see? Ask this year’s king and queen (or one of our many volunteers).

Young people participate in the Syttende Mai royalty tradition, too. Two local third-grade students are selected as the festival’s annual Prince and Princess and are chosen to carry on Norwegian traditions among their peers. They serve as grand marshals of the Saturday Youth Parade, ride in the Sunday Norwegian Parade, and start The Lil’ Run. The pair also attend the opening dinner and make other appearances throughout the Syttende Mai festival.

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Get Your Syttende Mai Booster Button

Get your all-access pass to the Syttende Mai festival with the $5 Booster Button. Purchase Buttons at the blue information booths on all three days and at events that require the Button for admission. The Booster Button is required for entry to many Syttende Mai events and is good for all three days. Visitors ages 5 and under do not need a Booster Button for admission.

Proceeds support festival parades, shuttle buses, and our Stoughton Norwegian Dancer performances. Thank you for your support!

Get Your Syttende Mai Commemorative Coin

Every year the Syttende Mai committee issues a collectible, commemorative coin as a keepsake. They’re a remembrance of the festival, and they honor both Stoughton’s and Norway’s heritage.

Each year, two images are selected for the front and back of the Syttende Mai commemorative coin. One side illustrates what makes Stoughton special while the other side represents Norway’s land and culture. The two sides come together to embrace Stoughton’s Norwegian heritage and its long Syttende Mai festival tradition.

The first commemorative coin minted for the Syttende Mai festival dates back to 1966. It featured the state of Wisconsin on one side and a Viking ship on the other. Last year’s coin displayed the Stoughton Rotary Park on one side, highlighting the site’s live outdoor music concerts, and musical instruments from Norway on the other side, including the psalmodicon, zither and concertina. The 2019 coin displays Stoughton’s Veteran’s Memorial Park on one side and the Coat of Arms for the Norwegian Armed Forces on the other side.

This year’s limited edition commemorative coin is just $12. They’re available for purchase at the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce and select retailers throughout the city. Be sure to pick up your commemorative coin for this year’s Syttende Mai festival celebration, so you have a memento of all that makes this event so special to Stoughton and its Norwegian community.

We Appreciate Our Sponsors!

Syttende Mai would not be possible without our sponsors' generous support. Learn more about our sponsors.


Contact Us

Need more information about Syttende Mai? Click here to contact the organizers directly. We look forward to seeing you at the event!