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Leif Erikson Day events, Norway, MI
Park in the Fall

Venture through the past at the 
Leif Erikson Festival

Enjoy memory lane from previous festivals through the years located in downtown Norway, Michigan. 

Leif Erikson Festival parade downtown Norway, MI

Early Viking expeditions to North America are well-documented and accepted as historical fact by most scholars. Around the year 1000 A.D., the Viking explorer Leif Erikson, son of Erik the Red, sailed to a place he called "Vinland," now the Canadian province of Newfoundland. 

Today, scientists can trace their arrival using tree rings, which show that a Viking axe first felled trees on the North American continent just over 1000 years ago, in 1021 A.D. The 1960 discovery of a Viking-era archaeological site bolstered such evidence, featuring the remains of distinctive Norse-style buildings, a bronze cloak pin, iron nails, and other Viking artifacts. Most historians now agree that the Vikings sailed southwest from Greenland and reached North America sometime at the turn of the millennium, making them the first Europeans to set foot on the continent. 

Viking Square, Norway, MI

As an official annual observance in the United States, Leif Erikson Day is observed on October 9th with a proclamation from the sitting U.S. President, often praising the contributions and adventurous spirit of Americans of Nordic descent. 

The first proclamation for Leif Erikson Day was in 1964, To honor "Leif Erikson, Norseman, son of Erik the Red and great seafarer, in the year 1000 valiantly explored the shores of the American Continent". On September 2, 1964, the President of the United States was authorized to proclaim October 9th of each year as “Leif Erikson Day." Read more about Proclamation 3610 here.  Source: "The American Presidency Project"

Viking Square, Norway, MI

Leif Erikson Day was first celebrated in the City of Norway, Michigan on October 10, 1992. On that day, Robert and Barbara Thorne began the tradition of celebrating the explorer's spirit of discovery and adventure at their Scandinavian gift shop, the Swedish Passport. They offered free coffee mugs to the first 10 customers, discounts for dressing as a Viking, free cookies and cakes, and a day of celebration commemorating the arrival of Scandinavians to North America. 

Leif Erikson Fall Festival, Norway, MI

In 1993, the Norway Area Business Association (now defunct) requested to join the Swedish Passport in the celebration, adding a variety of entertainment and fun things to do for this community event. This includes the annual naming of the "Friend of Norway" which honors a resident for their community involvement and achievements, a tradition that continues today. 

Leif Erikson Festival, Norway, MI

In 2011, a new group of organizers came together and began working to expand the festivities, adding many new activities and events that continue year after year. Norway, Michigan celebrates on the weekend closest to October 9th.

  • Viking Reenactments: Viking historian re-enactors demonstrate fighting techniques, domestic living, cooking, craftsmanship, and more

  • Taste of Norway: local restaurants, entrepreneurs, and community groups serving up local specialties and Scandinavian delights

  • Viking Dinner Theatre: a feast fit for a Viking with actors performing a live saga set in Viking Times

  • Night of the Viking: a thrilling torchlit walk around our local lake that culminates in the burning of a Viking boat pyre as it is set afloat

  • Crowning of Miss Norway & the Norse King: local youth vie for the title; the award emphasizes community involvement and individual accomplishment

  • Music and Entertainment: in the City of Norway's bandshell

  • Craft, Vendor, and Woodworker Show: local craftsmen and merchants display their wares or original creations

  • Kid-friendly Activities: bouncy house, petting zoo, pony rides, Viking costume-making tent, children's parade, and tractor rides down Main Street

  • Viking Parade: a costumed event with prizes awarded to the best-dressed Vikings

  • Farmer's Market: food and other products

  • Tour of Norway's Hydraulic Dam: located in Vulcan, Michigan at N471 Power Dam Road

  • Swedish Pancake Breakfast: at Mike's on Main Restaurant & Bowling Lanes, 616 Main Street

Leif Erikson Festival, Norway, MI logo

In 2022, Norway is proud to celebrate our 31st year of Leif Erikson Day festivities! As an official. This year we will be celebrating on Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9, 2022

Leif Erikson Day 2022 will feature the following additions:

  • Newly updated Leif's Run: professionally-timed, competitive 5K and 10K races and a 2 mile Run/Walk event on Sunday, October 9th

  • Swedish Pancake Breakfast served on Sunday, October 9th from 8AM - 12PM at Mike's on Main

  • Fine Art Show: featuring local artists

  • Quilt Show: located at the Norway Covenant Church

  • Open for viewing: The Titanic Exhibit at the Jake Menghini Museum

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