Oslo International Church Music Festival
Oslo, March. Aiming to put together a high-quality program of church music for Norwegian audiences, this festival, which has been held annually in Oslo since 2000, is one of Norway's leading church music festivals, featuring a blend of church music ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Concerts in Oslo churches are complemented by workshops and masterclasses. Read more about Oslo International Church Music Festival. This year: 1-10 March 2013.
Narvik Winter Festival (Vinterfestuka)
Narvik, March. Dating back to 1956, this week-long festival is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Norway. It celebrates Narvik's cultural history and particularly the construction of the Ofoten iron-ore railway (which still runs between Narvik and the Swedish border) and the railway workers who built it. The programme features concerts, exhibitions, art performances and parades, among other events, with many locals wearing period costumes for the occasion. This year: 8-17 March 2013.
World Cod Fishing Competition
Lofoten Islands, March. For centuries fishermen from all over Norway have been heading to the Lofoten Islands between January and March, to take part in the big Lofoten cod fisheries. During those months the big cod stocks from the Barents Sea swim south to spawn along the coast of the Lofoten Islands, and the sea is swarming with fish. While professional fishermen are out at sea making a living, teams of sports anglers from around the world gather at the World Cod Fishing Competition, attracted by the prospect of catching a record-breaking cod. Over 500 participants took part last year, and the biggest cod caught was a sizable 18,3kg. Read more about the World Cod Fishing Competition. This year: 15-16 March 2013.
Holmenkollen Ski Festival
Oslo, March. The highlight of the winter-sport season in Oslo, this hugely popular event dates back to 1892, and draws thousands of skiing enthusiasts (both competitors and spectators) every year to Holmenkollen, home to Oslo's famous ski jump, and Nordmarka, the big forested area north of the city centre. Ski jumping and cross-country skiing both feature on the programme, and this is a great opportunity to watch Norwegian athletes in action on home turf. The official name of the event is Holmenkollen FIS World Cup Nordic. This year: 15-17 March 2013.
Rena to Lillehammer, March. This race, one of the oldest and most challenging long-distance cross-country races in the world, is very popular, and attracts over 16,000 participants every year. The course is 54 kilometres long, starting in Rena and finishing in Lillehammer. The race commemorates a trip made in 1206 by the Birkebeiner loyalists (thus called because they wore shoes made of birch bark) to save the heir to the Norwegian throne, Håkon Håkonsson, then one year old. All participants carry a backpack weighing at least 3.5 kg, symbolizing the weight of the infant. Read more about the Birkebeinerrennet. This year: 16 March 2013.
Inferno Metal Festival
Oslo, April. Norwegian black metal, an extreme sub genre of heavy metal, might not be to everybody's liking, but the genre enjoys a popular following, not least abroad. It even has its own festival, the aptly named Inferno Festival, held in Oslo every year in April, which attracts bands with names such as Mayhem, Immortal, Dark Throne etc. Read more about the Inferno Festival. This year: 27–30 March 2013.
The Easter Festival, Karasjok and Kautokeino
Easter, Finnmark. Traditionally Easter was the time of year when the reindeer-herding Sami gathered in the towns of Karasjok and Kautokeino to celebrate the end of winter. Easter was also a time for weddings. Today celebrations are still religious in character, but Easter is also a time when Sami culture takes centre stage, with many events taking place in both Karasjok and Kautokeino. The Sami Grand Prix and the annual reindeer race are two of the highlights, but other events include concerts, theatre performances and exhibitions. This year: late March (Easter Sunday 31 March 2013).
Kristiansand International Children's Film Festival
Kristiansand, April-May. This festival presents quality feature films, shorts and documentaries for children and young people, as well as seminars, workshops and presentations of new films from the Nordic countries. Many of the films shown are screened with English subtitles (or in English language), with the exception of a few films for young children, which are given live Norwegian voice-overs (but English subtitles remain). Read more about Kristiansand International Children's Film Festival. This year: 23-27 April 2013.
Norwegian Festival of Literature
Lillehammer, May. This is the largest literature festival in the Nordic countries, whose main focus is Norwegian contemporary literature and the interaction between literature and society. Featuring best selling authors from around the world, the festival, which takes place in Lillehammer, attracted 543 authors and artists from 20 countries, and 36,514 visitors last year. Seminars, writing courses, debates, performances, exhibitions, meeting with authors, and more. Read more about Norwegian Festival of Literature. This year: 28 May-2 June 2013.
Norway's National Day
Nationwide, 17 May. After being ruled by Denmark for 400 years, Norway acquired its own constitution in 1814 and joined in a loose union with Sweden, which lasted until 1905. Norway's Constitution Day is celebrated to this day with parades and festivities throughout the country. Colourful processions of children with their banners, flags and bands lead the way, while everywhere people wearing the traditional costume (bunad) cheer on. The highlight of celebrations is in the capital Oslo, where huge processions descent on Karl Johans Gate, Oslo main street, on their way to see the Royal Family wave to them from the palace balcony. Read more about Norway's National Day.
Bergen International Festival
Bergen, late May-early June. This festival, the largest of its kind in Scandinavia, was founded in 1953. Taking place every year over two weeks in spring, the festival presents over 150 events in the fields of music, ballet, opera, theatre, dance and the performing arts, with many of the events taking place outdoors. With its focus on Nordic Impulses, the festival also aims to be a meeting place for creative and performing artists from the Nordic countries, celebrating their diversity and differences. His Majesty King Harald V is the festival's Royal patron. The festival attracted some 60,000 visitors in 2009. Read more about Bergen International Festival. This year: 22 May-5 June 2013.