Great art can become even better when experienced together. Festivals of food, music and films are vital to the Norwegian culture scene.
To say that Norway has a festival on every crag might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one. Especially during the summer months, when there is a myriad of music festivals in Norway covering both popular genres and niches such as jazz, blues and contemporary experimental music.
The two largest festivals in Oslo are Norwegian Wood and The Øya festival. The former focuses on quality artists from the golden age of rock and pop, with headliners such as Neil Young, Mark Knopfler and Patti Smith. The Øya festival has a somewhat younger and more adventurous profile, emphasizing indie, hip hop and electronic music. Slottsfjellfestivalen in Tønsberg, Pstereo in Trondheim and the Bukta festival in Tromsø are other music festivals of a high calibre.
Norway is in many ways a country of extremes, so it’s perhaps not a coincidence that some of the genres that have thrived here for decades are black metal and jazz (or even black jazz …). Black metal can be experienced in Norway during the Inferno festival, held every easter in Oslo. Jazz festivals can be found in places such as Molde, Kongsberg, Haugesund, Oslo and Lillehammer. And speaking of extremes, the International extreme sports competition in Voss usually has a few memorable concerts every year.
Norway is not a country for glamorous film festivals with loads of stars and red carpets, but there are a few very unique ones for the cinephiles. The international film festival in Tromsø in January has a very special atmosphere, while the Film fra Sør (Films from the South) festival in Oslo shows new and exciting titles from Asia, Africa and South America.
Food, and especially local food, is more and more important to Norwegians, and in the last few years a number of new food festivals have popped up across the country. It’s perhaps unfair to mention only one, but the Rakfisk festival in Fagernes (Rakfisk is rine-cured fish – trout, sometimes char – that has been salted and left to ferment in brine for two to three months) is an event you should not miss if you are in the area.
And last, but not least, we should also mention that there is a variety of theatre and literature festivals as well, for the highbrows among us.
Oslo is one of the large, Scandinavian culture hubs, with countless festivals, concerts and museums. But even the most remote village should have a football team and a cultural centre for you to get a taste of the local identity. See what’s happening where you are going.
Norwegian music has a strong reputation, not least in the genres of metal, indie and electronic music. Some of the world’s best-selling artists regularly tour the country as well.