Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony
Oslo, 10 December. The Norwegian Royal family and the cream of Norwegian society gather every year in Oslo Town Hall for the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, a tradition dating back to 1905. The event itself is by invitation only, although proceedings are shown live on TV. The high profile concert taking place at the Oslo Spektrum the following day, on the other hand, is open to all, and attracts its fair share of celebrities, both on and off the stage. Read more about the Nobel Peace Prize.
Folk Museum, Oslo, December. Christmas markets are a popular feature in Norwegian towns and cities from the end of November up to the day before Christmas Eve. One of the most famous is the open air market held at the Folk Museum on Bygdøy, Oslo, the first two weekends in December. The market boasts some 120 stalls selling all manners of arts and crafts, Christmas decorations, and seasonal food. Christmas carols and a Santa's workshop add to the fun. This year: First two weekends in December 2013.
Gingerbread Town (Pepperkakebyen)
Bergen, December. The world's largest gingerbread town is on display at Torgallmenningen, in the center of Bergen. Every year since 1991, the inhabitants of Bergen (kindergartens, schools, companies and private persons) have been bringing their home-made contributions to help build a brand new gingerbread town. This is one to appeal to both kids and grown-ups - a feast for the eyes, if not the tastebuds. This year: Dates yet to be announced.
Kongsberg, 22 December. A local tradition dating back to the 17th century, when many locals worked in the town's mines. The miners lived difficult lives, working deep in the mines for weeks on end. But on the 22 December, the beginning of their Christmas holiday, they would all come out from the mines, torch in hand, and walk to the town - a snake of fire sliding down the mountainside. Once on the main square, they would get gløgg (mulled wine), and their wages. Then the party could begin. Today locals gather to commemorate their forefathers, following the same path down the mountain - and partying with the same enthusiasm.
Tromsø International Film Festival
Tromsø, January. Norway's largest film festival, established in 1991, screens a selection of films from around the world, most of which have not previously been shown in Norway. More than 300 screenings take place during the festival, some of them on a big outdoor screen set up on Tromsø's main square. Documentaries and short films from the region are shown together with feature-length movies by big international names, as well as up-and-coming talent. Talks, quiz, silent film concerts and other events also take place during the week-long festival. Read more about Tromsø International Film Festival.
Ice Climbing Festival
Rjukan, February. There are many waterfalls in Telemark, and come winter these turn into huge ice walls clinging to the mountain side, much to the delight of local climbers. As it happens Rjukan boasts the world's tightest concentration of frozen waterfalls (more than 170 within a radius of 20 kilometres), making it the perfect place for such a festival. Guided climbs, lectures, clinics and more. All welcome, from beginners to professional climbers. Ice Climbing Festival.
Ice Music Festival
Geilo, January/February. An alternative music festival where both the stage and the instruments are carved out of local ice and snow. Much is left up to nature, from the date (the festival takes place at the first full moon of the year) to the music itself (the quality of the ice depends on the weather conditions, so the sound varies with the temperature), making this a rather unpredictable, but no less fascinating, event. Read more about the Ice Music Festival.
Northern Lights Festival
Tromsø, January-February. Established in 1988, this festival is a big musical extravaganza that has attracted high profile artists such as Jan Garbarek, Mari Boine and Dee Dee Bridgewater, among many others. Some of the best symphonic orchestras in Scandinavia have also performed here. Over the past two decades the festival has had an interesting mixture of top quality performances, including many by artists from the North. See Northern Lights Festival.
Longyearbyen, Svalbard, February. The world's northernmost music festival. Wrap up warm for this one, as temperatures in Svalbard in February are no joke (Polar Jazz has adopted the phrase "Cool place, hot music" as its slogan). Over the years many of Norway's best jazz musicians have played at the festival, and increasingly other music genres, such as blues and bluegrass, are also represented.
Rørosmartnan (Røros Fair)
Røros, February. Røros makes an ideal backdrop for this annual fair, which has been held in the UNESCO world heritage town since 1854. Attracting some 75,000 visitors every year, the fair is one of the region's largest events, and a real trip down memory lane. The "backyards", where people used to gather to trade, play music, dance and tell stories, is where the action takes place. Try some local food, see how traditional crafts were performed, take part in an auction or even go on a sleigh ride. Rørosmartnan