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No one knows Norway’s nature better than The Norwegian Trekking Association. This year, the organisation turns 150 – and celebrates with a number of outdoor activities throughout 2018.

Published: 10 January 2018

To Norwegian outdoor enthusiasts, The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) is an integral part of the national soul.  

With more than 300 000 members, the organisation is the country’s largest of its kind, and the number is rising – last year with a whopping six percent. 

Margrethe Assev, communication advisor at DNT, explains the tendency: 

"The increasing interest is due to both DNT and society in general. People are becoming more and more interested in nature, hiking and outdoor life – it’s a trend. At the same time, we’ve become more visible where people live, with more hikes and activities near populated areas," she tells Visit Norway.

Nature’s free for all

DNT works to promote safe, sustainable, simple and active trekking and other outdoor activities – not least with more than 500 cabins, available to the organisation’s members, all over Norway. In addition, DNT regularly organises a number of trips, provides tourist information and arranges classes in activities such as mountain climbing and glacier hiking.

But even though DNT’s scope and range has expanded, the organisation’s 150 year old basic idea remains intact

The story starts in the forested area of Østmarka in Oslo January 21st 1868. There, the Norwegian businessman, politician and philanthropist Thomas Heftye founded DNT with a selected group of co-founders. The motto? “Let’s make it easy and inexpensive for people to behold the beauty and greatness of our country”.

Sarabråten, Østmarka

Sarabråten, Østmarka.
Photo: Oslo Museum / CC BY-SA

During its first year of existence, DNT acquired the first of what would be many cabins, in addition to clearing and building hiking paths.  

"The biggest difference is the number of members. Early on, recreation and outdoor life was reserved for the elite. Now, it has become a popular movement," Margrethe Assev says.

The area of operation has also expanded notably during these 150 years.

"DNT’s early focus was the mountains. While it remains essential for us to be present there, with activities and cabins, we now cover the entire country," says Assev.

DNT, Rondane (1932)

DNT, Rondane (1932).
Photo: Ole-Falk Torbjørnsen

The world’s greatest outdoor birthday

The 150-year-old will naturally be celebrated with parties, activities, happenings and arrangements throughout 2018.

The Secretary-General of DNT, Nils Øveraas, sums up the plans for the anniversary: 

"Our wish for the anniversary is that even more people will contribute to creating great experiences in the marvelous nature around us, be it as members, participants on our arrangements or simply by helping us keeping nature as we want it to be: Clean and beautiful."

Vettisfossen, Utladalen

Vettisfossen, Utladalen.
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / Visitnorway.com

January 19th the party kicks off in Oslo Spektrum, where the mother of all hiking parties will take place. Here, several of Norway’s greatest artists will perform, while chalet hosts, enthusiasts and hikers will be served glimpses of DNT’s past and future through art and images.

Two days later – precisely one and a half century after DNT was founded – it’s time for the world’s greatest outdoor birthday all over the country. This is the National Hiking Day in Norway in 2018, with more than 150 arrangements for the whole family to enjoy.

"On January 21st, there’ll be a celebration on the very spot where DNT was founded as well. There’ll be a barbecue, games for the whole family and friendly competitions in traditional Norwegian winter activities such as cross-country skiing, slalom and ski jumping," Margrethe Assev says.

Step back into 1937

For a direct look into how cabin life unfolded way back, a trip to Bygdøy in Oslo would be recommended. On February 17th, the cabin Hovinkoia will be reopened to the public at Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.

The DNT cabin was built in 1937 and has been located at Ringerike in Buskerud county. In the summer of 2016, however, the cabin was moved to the Palace Park in Oslo on the occasion of King Harald’s and Queen Sonja’s 25th anniversary as the nation’s regents.

Retrospective fun is also on the menu when the staffed lodges open for the season with food, quiz and entertainment on June 30. This year there will be a particular theme to the party, according to DNT’s Margrethe Assev.

"The theme of the summer opening will be retro. Accept the challenge, and put on your sportiest retro outdoor clothes. There’ll be a prize for best outfit on all of the cabins, as well as photo contests."

The list of activities is being updated regularly – you’ll find it here.

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