Despite the rise of internationally renowned playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in the 19th century, the development of professional theatres started late in Norway. After the second world war, however, the Norwegian state saw arts and culture as increasingly important in regards to the rebuilding of the nation.
Today, Norway has a large offering of theatres and culture halls, both in the major cities and in the smaller towns. The high point in Norway’s commitment to arts and culture as of yet came in 2008, with the opening of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Bjørvika. With its ambitious marble and glass design, it was the largest cultural building to be built in Norway since the construction of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim at the start of the 14th century.
Oslo has Nationaltheatret (The National Theatre) and Det Norske Teatret amongst others, but the theatre with the longest history is Den Nationale Scene in Bergen, founded in 1876.
Bergen also hosts Festspillene (The International Festival) each spring, with several plays and operas from all over the world. Other cities with strong theatre traditions include Trondheim (Trøndelag teater), Stavanger (Rogaland teater) Tromsø (Hålogaland teater).
Culture is seen as a means to maintain vibrant local communities in Norway, and billions of kroners have been spent building culture halls in Norway in recent years, often removed from the biggest cities. Touring theatre companies, such as Riksteateret, travel all over the country with different shows and productions.
The variation in repertoire is significant, at least in the major cities, ranging from smaller and experimental plays to large shows based on international brands.
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.
Great art can become even better when experienced together. Festivals of food, music and films are vital to the Norwegian culture scene.