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Festivals in Norway

A feast of flavours, sights and sounds
Great art can become even better when experienced together. Festivals of food, music and films are vital to the Norwegian culture scene.
Crowd listening to a concert at the OverOslo festival
OverOslo Festival.
Photo: Gunnar Kopperud / Fotografgunnarkopperud.no

All year round, and especially in the summer months, there is a myriad of music festivals in Norway, covering both popular genres such as jazz, blues and contemporary music, as well as niche genres showcasing more experimental music. The festival scene in Norway holds a high standard and can easily measure up against festivals in Europe.

A festival of festivals

Some of the most talked about festivals in Oslo are The Øya festival, by:Larm and OverOslo. The Øya festival emphasises indie, hip-hop and electronic music. By:Larm in the city centre attracts a huge crowd in early March and OverOslo gives a fantastic view over the capital from the Grefsenkollen plateau. Slottsfjellfestivalen in Tønsberg, Pstereo in Trondheim and the Bukta festival in Tromsø are just some of other music festivals of a high calibre.

Pstereo 2017
Pstereo 2017.
Photo: Pstereo

Norway is in many ways a country of extremes, so it’s perhaps not a coincidence that some of the genres that have thrived here for decades are black metal and jazz (or even black jazz …). Black metal can be experienced in Norway during the Inferno festival, held every Easter in Oslo. Jazz festivals can be found in places such as Molde, Kongsberg, Haugesund, Oslo and Lillehammer.

And speaking of extremes, every year in Voss you can enjoy Ekstremsportveko, the largest extreme sport festival of its kind, which usually holds a few memorable concerts as well. Norway is not a country for glamorous film festivals with loads of stars and red carpets, but there are a few very unique ones for the cinephiles. The international film festival in Tromsø in January has a very special atmosphere, while the Film fra Sør (Films from the South) festival in Oslo shows new and exciting titles from Asia, Africa and South America.

Video Thumbnail - vimeo - BEST OF EKSTREMSPORTVEKO 2017
The best of Ekstremsportveko.
Photo: Ekstremsportveko

Food, and especially local food, is more and more important to Norwegians, and in the last few years a number of new food festivals have popped up across the country. It’s perhaps unfair to mention only one, but the Rakfisk festival in Fagernes (Rakfisk is rine-cured fish – trout, sometimes char – that has been salted and left to ferment in brine for two to three months) is an event you should not miss if you are in the area.

And last, but not least, we should also mention that there is a variety of theatre and literature festivals as well, for the highbrows among us.

A growing hunger for festivals

Norwegians have proved a steady appetite for most types of festivals, and travellers from abroad also flock to many of the same events.

Norway offers more than 900 festivals to match most tastes, in the fields of music, sports, food, film, theatre, literature, and more.

Summertime is by far the biggest festival season, but there are interesting events going on all year round, all over the country.

Festival packing tips:

Festivals in Norway might present you with “all four seasons in one day” and it is highly recommended to pack functional clothing. Here is a list of practical packing tips:

Layered clothing:  as temperatures may vary, you should be able to add or remove clothing accordingly. Light woolens are recommended, even during summer. 

Rain gear/poncho: stay dry on a rainy day.

Rain boots: you might get far with sneakers or converse, but only rain boots will keep your feet happy in heavy rain. 

Bug spray: prepare yourself for the mosquitos. 

Sunglasses: don't be squinting at the stage. 

Sunscreen: protect yourself in the sun. 

Power charger: charging your phone can be challenging at the festival. 

Earplugs: in case you need to give your ears a break.

Remember to leave your most valuable belongings at home. 
 

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Festival guide and calendar

Music festivals with large Facebook crowds

Some festivals get more attention in social media than others.

Jazz and Blues festivals

Experience Europe's oldest annual jazz festival in Molde and others. 

Pop and rock festivals

Showcasing big-name international artists as well as up-and-coming local bands.

Food festivals

A multitude of food types, tastes and activities for "foodies" of all ages.

Get inspired

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