The place for Christmas gifts and seasonal cheer.
Christmas is approaching at the speed of stampeding reindeer hooves across a brilliant night sky. This means that the traditional Norwegian christmas fairs are returning for another season of unique Christmas gifts, exciting artisan foods and cosily lit winter streets.
In fact, this weekend there are three Christmas fairs in Oslo alone, and two of them have an international touch. One is the Swedish market in the Margaretakyrkan church with both raffles and traditional food, the other a German Christkindlesmarkt in Eilert Sundts street with both Stollen and Lebkuchen on offer.
And in the city centre, a great Christmas fair will fill Spikersuppa with delicacies and crafts, a Christmas workshop for children, a Ferris wheel and various entertainments. Here’s what that looked like a few years ago.
If you look a bit further ahead, there are plenty of Christmas fairs popping up all around the country. Here are four highlights.
A visit to the open air museum Maihaugen in Lillehammer this weekend is bound to tune your every sense into early cozy Christmas cheer mode.
The museum’s traditional Christmas market features decorated houses ranging from the Middle Ages to the 1950s along with Christmas workshops, gingerbread baking, puppet shows, woodcarving, Christmas card photography and more than 120 stalls selling a variety of local wares.
This year, Mesna Icelandic Horse Center and Visit Sjusjøen are also treating visitors to a Birkebeiner camp, featuring toddy heated on a campfire, and both people and horses from the historical Norwegian action adventure “The Last King”.
Drop by on Saturday, and you can tag along for the wandering theatrical experience “Det lyser i stille grender”, which takes full advantage of the historical surroundings of Norway’s biggest open air museum.
If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, there are few places on this Earth more suitable than Røros, the town that inspired Disney’s megahit “Frost”. With its old wooden houses, multitude of crafts shops and cosy cafes, Røros is the kind of place where it’s hard not to feel a touch of Christmas on the first day the snow settles in the streets. Even if that day comes in September.
And then the real magic starts. Children with rosy cheeks and locally produced artisan wares like knitted gloves, glassware, cured sausages, smoked salmon and woodwork line the streets during what could conceivably be named the mother of all Christmas fairs.
This is where you go for a horse drawn sleigh ride underneath a sheepskin blanket, or to have close encounters with real reindeer. For kids, there’s the history walk around town looking for Santa Claus, whereas the grown-ups may enjoy a walk around the Bergstad combined with a beer tasting session.
Music is central to this fair, with both choirs and bands playing in the street. Røros church is throwing concerts all weekend, with everyone from famed singer Helene Bøksle to the Christmas concert “Christmas calm with the Bergfolk” featuring Vegar Dahl and Kirsti Sæter.
One of Norway’s most popular Christmas fairs, and understandably so. At the open air museum Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, visitors can buy unique Christmas gifts from more than a hundred stalls as they wander through a historical retelling of Christmases both decades and centuries past.
The whole museum is decorated in line with various customs and eras, allowing you to experience anything from Christmas Eve in a fancy merchant’s home in 1769 to the home of a rural Norwegian family in 1959.
Also on show is the brand new exhibition “A Christmas tale”, relating the story of Norwegian Christmas from heathen times up until today. The museum is promoting tales of the scary holidays and the busy holidays – but also of the cosy holidays.
Schøtstuene were originally designed as places for people to gather and eat, and were in use until the 1840s, but for this Christmas market they will instead be home to a diverse offering of modern design articles. Designers and craftspeople will be selling anything from jewelry and lamps to clothes and visual art.
Should you acquire a hunger here, the Farmer’s market down by Bryggen has you covered. Local producers from the counties Hordaland and Sogn and Fjordane will be tempting your tastebuds with artisan cheeses, meats, breads, jams and anything else you’d expect.
After all this, for that optimal Christmas spirit, visit the Gingerbread town. It is the world’s largest, built by everyone from kindergarteners to employees at local businesses, and it is only a short walk away. Like most anything else in Bergen.
At this fair you’ll come in close contact with farmers and craftspeople eager to tell the stories behind their wares, whether you’re showing interest in a ceramic bowl at the wooden stalls or some exotic jam in the tent that is home to the Farmer’s market.
A lavvo, a northern form of teepee, will be built to serve as both café and indoor stage, featuring fireside troubadours, local food and a theatrical performance for children.
And lastly, at the Torvscenen stage you will find a constant stream of talented artists and bands putting on concerts for the benefit of the Salvation Army’s charity work.
Do you have a penchant for shopping designer Christmas gifts? Or are you looking to combine a Christmas market with gazing at the Northern Lights? If so, you’re in luck not once but twice this December. Pop-Up Market Tromsø are organizing Christmas markets two weekends in a row, with different exhibitors each time.
Amazing photography, exclusive handbags, colourful children’s clothes and traditionally inspired streetwear are just some of the things you can find if you drop by Nerstranda in Tromsø on these weekends.
Christmas in Norway lasts more than a few days: it’s a whole season with specific rituals and preparations. The snow that covers most of the country and the dark nights add a magical touch to the holiday spirit.
As some destinations approach the last days of the season, others are preparing for their season opening.