What a party!

High spirits, a magnificently versatile show, and long beer queues, as Lund University staff and students celebrated the 350th anniversary with a big birthday bash. But the party came close to not being held on historic ground.

Party in lundagård.

Photo: Kennet Ruona.

The National Property Board of Sweden, which manages the buildings in Lundagård park, was for a long time sceptical about having a massive party in Lundagård, arguing that the site was not big enough to hold that many people. Instead, the plan was to have the 350th anniversary party outside the Faculty of Engineering. However, the party committee refused to give in, and the discussions with the property board continued.

“It felt so good that we, in the end, were able to be at the very centre – otherwise it wouldn’t have been the same. We had to revise our planning at a rather late stage, but we were happy to do it”, says Lotta Sokulski-Bateld from the Special Events and Protocol office, which gave its biggest party ever.

photo: Kennet Ruona

The party for students and staff is the only event during LU’s 350th anniversary celebrations not open to the public. There were 7 000 registered guests, about half of whom were staff and half were students, and even more people attempted a late registration, but by then the party was at capacity. On the other hand, major pre-parties were held at all faculties, most of them outdoors. At the Faculty of Engineering, more than 2 000 people were invited to a picnic, and after a week of rain, in all shapes and forms – persistent downpours, heavy showers, light drizzling – everyone was worried that the party would be washed away. But after a quick shower in the afternoon, the sun came out and university folk came streaming into Lundagård from different directions, occasionally accompanied by student orchestras. Spirits were high as cheerful colleagues gathered in groups. One annoyance, however, was the queues to the beer taps. They were long.

Photo: Kennet Ruona

On the stairs to the main University building sat two newly arrived Master’s students, waiting for the show on stage to start.

“It’s uplifting to be here and see the diversity of people! Although tonight we might not understand a thing since everything is in Swedish”, said Josephine Nakiyemba, who had just arrived in Lund from Uganda. She was happy to learn that, in fact, many Swedish artists sing in English.

The party started with the vice-chancellor wishing everyone welcome from the stage.

Photo: Kennet Ruona

“This amazing 350th anniversary celebration is an opportunity to establish a greater sense of community between all of us at the University, and a chance to remove the barriers between faculties and disciplines, between lecturers and students. The University is to be open, also towards the outside world – the crowd control barriers tonight are an exception. I hope you all have a historically fun party!” said Torbjörn von Schantz.

Putting together the stage programme was a challenge, says Charlotta Sokulski-Bateld. It was about finding the right mix, with something for people of all ages and interests. Judging by the audience’s applause, singing and dancing, it was a success. Performing on stage were Christer Nerfont, Magnus Tingsek, Linnea Henriksson, Gunhild Carling and Ola Salo. In addition, certain researchers, representing the different faculties, had been selected to give three-minute presentations to try to captivate the audience with their research – a difficult task to do between musical acts. After that, the student cover band Discokollektivet took the stage in glitter and sequins, and many in the audience danced the September night away.

Photo: Kennet Ruona

“The best part was to see people so happy, enjoying themselves, and having fun. The entire collaboration on the party, between students, the Special Events and Protocol office, the LU350 office, and the stage and technical producers, has been characterised by such positive energy”, says Charlotta Sokulski-Bateld.