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5 unique cultural festivals

In Norway, you can choose from more than 900 festivals every year, around 300 of which are art and culture festivals.

Riddu Riđđu Festivála .
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com
Riddu Riđđu Festivála .
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Norwegians love festivals

“In Norway, there is approximately one festival per 5,000-6,000 people. The festivals are fairly evenly distributed between the country’s regions. About two-thirds of the festivals take place in cities, while the rest are in the countryside or in smaller towns,” says Anders Rykkja, research fellow and former CEO of Norway Festivals.

Being a dedicated festivalgoer himself, it makes perfect sense to Rykkja that so many people choose to go to festivals.

“Festivals provide wonderful opportunities for people to immerse themselves intensely in artistic and cultural experiences in a limited period of time. People get the chance to meet artists, watch performances, productions, and concerts they would otherwise not have experienced,” he says.

Here are his five recommendations for unusual cultural festivals.

Anders Rykkja’s recommendations

  • 1. Førde Traditional and World Music Festival

    “The festival has been voted one of the best festivals in the world within its genre by Songlines Magazine,” says Rykkje. 

    This is the largest festival in Scandinavia for music and dance from all over the world. The festival was established in 1990 and takes place every year.

  • 2. The Peer Gynt Festival, Vinstra

    “A celebration of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece, with events, concerts, lectures, and performance. An open-air production of the famous play is staged beside lake Gålåvatnet,” says Rykkje.

    Every year since 1967, the Peer Gynt festival has been held in the Gudbrandsdalen valley to celebrate the local legend that inspired Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt.

  • 3. Riddu Riđđu, Manndalen

    Rykkje calls it “a unique Sami music and cultural festival.”

    The mission of the Riddu Riđđu festival, which was established in 1991, is to promote and develop the Sami coastal culture.

  • 4. Nordland Music Festival, Bodø

    According to Rykkje, this festival features “quality music, magnificent scenery, and numerous outdoor stages.” 

    The festival is hosted in venues throughout Bodø and invites you to sample classical music, jazz, folk music and pop, both indoors and outdoors. The festival takes place each March.

  • 5. Mela Festival, Oslo

    “A gathering place for world-class performing arts and culture, right in the heart of Oslo,” sasy Rykkje.

    This festival will enliven all your senses with international rhythms, music, dance, and food. Mela was first held in 2001 and attracts around 300,000 festivalgoers every year.

Anders Rykkja
Anders Rykkja.
Photo: Anders Rykkja
About Anders Rykkja

Rykkja holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Music Business Management from the University of Westminster (UK).

He has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years as project manager, artist manager, and concert organiser.

He is a former managing director of Norway Festivals, a network comprising 75 arts and culture festivals, and is a research fellow at the University of Agder. 

He specialises in the funding of arts and culture projects, with a particular focus on alternative funding sources like crowdfunding.

Find festivals on the map

Rykkja’s top 5 festivals
The Peer Gynt festival, Vinstra
The Peer Gynt festival, Vinstra
The Peer Gynt festival, Vinstra
Music festivals
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Eggstockfestivalen 2022
Tønsberg Medieval Festival takes place 2. – 5. June 2022 on a hilltop in the middle of Norway’s oldest town. Read more Read more
Tønsberg Medieval Festiva 2022
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Langesund International Shanty Festival
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Vegetables, fruit, meet, berrys, cheese and lots more. All local grown. Read more
Farmers Marked in Risør
The annual Miniøya festival for children and youth is held in Tøyenparken. Music is the main element of the festival, which also… Read more
Miniøya children's festival
OverOslo is an annual summer festival with four nights of concerts at Scene Grefsenkollen, a stage on a hill 377 metres above the city. Confirmed… Read more
OverOslo day 4
Bergenfest is a four-day open-air festival held in the city centre of Bergen. The festival takes place on the grounds of a medieval fortress and… Read more
Bergenfest - live music festival
15-18 June 2022, Grefsenkollen: Popular summer festival 377 metres above the city Read more
OverOslo music festival
16–18 June 2022, Sofienberg Park: Great music and a laid-back and intimate atmosphere Read more
Piknik i Parken music festival
The  mountain festival Rondaståk is held at Kvamsfjellet in Gudbrandsdalen Read more
Rondaståk Mountain Festival
Large music festival on the island of Isegran with artists Aurora, Broiler, deLillos, Julie Bergan, Erik og Kriss, Raga Rockers, OnklP, Matoma,… Read more
IDYLL Festival
Silent electric boat festival in Arendal Silent or Lydløs in norwegian is the festival for the boating life of the future. We want to create… Read more
Lydløs - silent electric boat festival in Arendal
OverOslo is an annual summer festival with four nights of concerts at Scene Grefsenkollen, a stage on a hill 377 metres above the city. Confirmed… Read more
OverOslo day 3
Urban Moves is a street dance festival organized by and at Dansens Hus. The festival offers performances, battles, jams and professional discussions,… Read more
Urban Moves Oslo
The Vervenfestivalen is arranget at Karljohansvern in Horten Follow Vervenfestivalen.no or Vervenfestivalen at Facebook for more info. Read more
Vervenfestivalen 2022
Norway's largest LGBTIQ festival with concerts, exhibitions, shows, films, parties and debates Read more
Oslo Pride
22-24 June, Akershus fortress: Music from Oslo's most beautiful outdoor stage Read more
Karpedammen Festival
Experience a little piece of America in Norway at Farsund's American Festival. Join the street parade, have fun at the fair and listen to great… Read more
American Festival Lista 2022
23–25 June 2022, Ekebergsletta: Tons of Rock is taking place in Oslo for the second time. Read more
Tons of Rock
Halvøya is an intimate electronica festival that is arranged at Odderøya island, Kristiansand. Read more
HalvØya festival in Kristiansand
Jordeple in Lærdal means potatoes for everyone else! Welcome to Lærdal and Jordeplerock Read more
Jordeplerock festival, Lærdal
A great success already from the launch in summer 2015 - now a tradition! Read more
SOOTspelet, Ørje
Welcome to this year's SOOT market! Open to everyone. Both for you with and without ticket to the game. Read more
SOOTspelet, Ørje
Narvik War Museum invites you to 2 hours full of learning through taste, activities and artifacts, creating an understanding of why Narvik becomes so… Read more
The Kids at Narvik War Museum
Experience the locks in Ørje, marked and lots of fun. Read more
Cancelled - Lockfestival, Ørje
The Risør Chamber Music Festival is widely recognized nationally and internationally for its variety and quality of programs. Read more
Risør Kammermusikkfest - Chamber music festival
The Glomma Festival a city festival for the whole family situated along the river Glomma in Fredrikstad. The Glomma Festival offers top entertainment… Read more
Glomma Festival
Welcome to visit The Skude Festival - the largest gathering of coastal culture in Western Norway. Read more
Skudefestivalen
All stores open until 11pm in Grimstad Read more
All night shopping
Palmesus at Kristiansand city beach is Scandinavia's biggest beach party. Read more
Palmesus 2022 Scandinavias biggest beach party
A Bluesfestival in Hjørundfjord. Read more
Trandalblues 2022
Order your boat-ticket here to the Trandalblues Festival. Read more
Trandalblues 2022 Boat Sæbø-Trandal
Arendal Herregaard Spa & Resort is hosting Tromøyfestivaen in Arendal. Read more
Tromøyfestivalen in Arendal
Enjoy some Sunday shopping in our cozy little summer town! Read more
Sunday open in Grimstad town centre
Ravnedans is Southern Norway's biggest festival of contemporary dance. Read more
Ravnedans Dance Festival in Kristiansand
Southern Norway's most cozy music festival. Read more
Skral Festival
The Villvin Market is the largest and most exciting exhibition of high quality handicrafts and arts. Read more
Villvin art and handcraft marked in Risør
During the second weekend of July, approximately 20 artists and bands will play on different stages in the municipal. The main arena for Norsk… Read more
Norsk Countrytreff
Agder Vikinglag organises a Viking market at Bronseplassen. This is a Viking market and craft meet with Viking guests from across Europe who come to… Read more
Viking Market at Bronseplassen in Høvåg
Summer conference with an exciting program for the whole family, and for all denominations. Eight days with meetings, seminars, concerts and… Read more
Summer Conference at Sarons Dal
Slottsfjellfestival in Tønsberg ID 18 years For information of artists, program and practical information see… Read more
Slottsfjellfestivalen 2022
Join the garden party at Groos! Read more
Heilt Propell
Beach party in Mandal! Read more
Sydli 2022
Here you can enjoy shopping in beautiful natural surroundings, and get locally produced foods and other products. Take a trip for a nice day for both… Read more
Summer marked in Eide
Canal Street, Arendal's fabulous music festival, offers an event where place, culture and history form the musical meet between artist and audience. Read more
Canal Street - Arendal music festival
Månefestivalen (The Moon Festival) is a charming and colorful music festival in the Old Town (Gamlebyen) in Fredrikstad. The main stage is… Read more
Månefestivalen
Festival in Ravnedalen, Kristiansand. Read more
Ravnedalen Live 2022
Local business fair with activities and entertainment for young and old, food and drinks and plenty of special offers! Traditional lunch 'vassgraut'… Read more
Ål fair
4 Days of Darkness in the Heart of Bergen! Welcome to four magic days in Bergen with exciting dark concerts. Concert will be at USF Verftet, in… Read more
Beyond The Gates
Have you ever imagined: How would it be to wander around among the Vikings in Lofoten for more than 1000 years ago? Read more
Viking Festival at Lofotr Viking Museum
Largest festival in Europe for historic ships, vehicles, planes, trains and trams. Major event with exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, concerts,… Read more
Fjordsteam Bergen 2022
Whether you are a wooden boat owner or one of the many who love the coastal life, Risør Trebåtfestival is one event that you cannot miss. Read more
Risør Trebåtfestival Wooden boat festival
Fjordfesten Music Festival Two days with good music and a great summer atmosphere in Badeparken in Sandefjord town center, arranged for the 13th time!… Read more
Fjordfesten 2022 - Friday Pass
By a lake, between forests and steep mountains in the Gudbrandsdalen valley, you can experience Norways most famous folk tale in a spectacular outdoor… Read more
The outdoor theater Peer Gynt by Ibsen
Fjordfesten Music Festival Two days with good music and a great summer atmosphere in Badeparken in Sandefjord town center, arranged for the 13th time!… Read more
Fjordfesten 2022 (+16 år) - Saturday Pass
Sildajazz in Haugesund has become one of the two biggest jazz festivals in the country. The Tradjazz profile is clear, but most other styles are also… Read more
Sildajazz
Varangerfestivalen is the largest international jazz festival in Northern Norway. This year held for the 30rd time in Vadsø - from Wednesday the 8 to… Read more
Varanger Festival
One of Oslo's largest music festivals,  with a lineup that always includes big international names, promising newcomers and everything in… Read more
Øya Festival
The annual Shellfish Festival in Mandal, Norway's most southern town, is well worth a visit. Read more
Shellfishfestival in Mandal 2022
Bystrandfestivalen is a music festival arranged for the second time on 12 and 13 August 2022. Local and national artists in several genres. Read more
Fredag Dagspass Bystrandfestivalen 2022
Oslo Chamber Music Festival presents music from Medieval times to the present day. The festival presents a programme filled with interesting… Read more
Oslo Chamber Music Festival
Skjærgårdssang festival will present a good selection of Christian music, ranging from gospel to psalms and chapel songs. Buy ticket Read more
Skjærgårdssang in Langesund
On Saturday the 13. of August, Namsos will be buzzing with acitivity. The third stage of the cycling race Arctic Race of Norway will set off from… Read more
Local food market in Namsos ( Trøndelag Food Festival - A Place Near You)
Bystrandfestivalen is a music festival arranged for the second time on 12 and 13 August 2022. Local and national artists in several genres. Read more
Lørdag Dagspass Bystrandfestivalen 2022
Annual jazz festival with an emphasis on quality and history. You will find practically every genre represented at Oslo Jazz Festival, from ragtime to… Read more
Oslo Jazz Festival
Arendalsuka is where national politicians, businesses and organisations meet to discuss topics that concern us all. All events are open for all and… Read more
Arendalsuka 2021
MIDGARDSBLOT METALFESTIVAL 17.-20. AUGUST 2022 More information at Midgard Vikingsenter or Midgardsblot Read more
Midgardsblot Metal Festival 2022
Downhill- and terrain cycling festival in Ål Ski Resort! Activities all weekend with competitions and lots of fun!… Read more
Hillbilly Huckfest
When Findings Festival goes down, it is sure to offer two fun-filled days of EDM, pop and electronica.  Read more on the… Read more
Findings Festival
A food festival for the whole family! Good ingredients and tastes are praised , and both children and adults can learn about food. There will be… Read more
Horten food & beer festival 2022
We welcome all hearts to Longyearbyen Pride! Read more
Longyearbyen Pride
Once again we gather all new car dealerships in the area for a celebration in Vingparken. Come enjoy the view of the newest, freshest car models on… Read more
Høyda Car-festival 2022
Haugesund again welcomes more than a thousand people to a 7-day-long film festival. In addition to watching films our visitors can attend concerts,… Read more
The Norwegian international Film Festival
Outdoor concert with two of Norway's biggest and most critically acclaimed bands and artists working today, Dumdum Boys and Oslo Ess.… Read more
Vulkan Open Air: Dumdum Boys/ Oslo Ess
A tribute to the Haugesund region. Western Norway's happiest music festival. 26. - 27. August.       Read more
Den Festivalen i Vangen
Student festival at one of the city parks Nygårdsparken. Read more
Høydenfestivalen
Welcome to a literature festival on Svalbard! Here you will find wonderful literary experiences for both youths and adults. Read more
Longyearbyen Literature Festival
The 7th edition of Vill Vill Vest Music Festival & Conference is happening 1. - 3. of September 2022 in Bergen. Vill Vill Vest is the Music… Read more
Vill Vill Vest 2022
NORWAY'S LARGEST AND BEST OCTOBER PARTY! Read more
Octoberfestival in Stryn
Oslo Culture Night is held in September every year. Opening hours at cultural institutions are extended into the evening and night, and there are… Read more
Oslo Culture Night (Oslo Kulturnatt)
Beck Live presents the Bergen Tribute Festival. Here, Norwegian and international tribute bands will fill everyone's music needs. Age limit:… Read more
Bergen Tribute Festival
Welcome to the food festival September 24th! Read more
Den lille Madfesten
Top-class tribute bands have long been a success in Europe. Now it has become a hit in Norway as well. The level of the bands is sky high, and this is… Read more
Oslo Tribute Festival
An exiting book festival for children in Grimstad! Read more
Children's Book Festival 2022
Dark Season Blues – blues music at the beginning of the Polar Night Read more
Dark Season Blues
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the northernmost pride in the world. We devote ourselves to celebrating diversity at 69 degrees north. Read more
Tromsø Arctic Pride
Real Christmas joy in Kongeparken. Food, workshops, and unique Christmas activities included. Read more
Christmas in Kongeparken
Christmas Fair with good old fashioned Christmas spirit with market stalls in the Fortress Town of Fredrikstad. Lots of exciting products both… Read more
Christmas market in the Fortress Town
Norwegian and European Tribute bands enter Madam Felle and Storsalen at Radisson Blut Hotel at Bryggen to pay tribute to rock icons such as Ozzy… Read more
Bergen Tribute Festival - Fredag
Experience the raw and wild nature of Longyearbyen, for later to come inside to a warm and cosy environment, taste great local food and and then - to… Read more
Arctic Chamber Music Festival
Fredrikstad is hosting The Tall Ships Races 15th to the 18th of July 2023. The Tall Ships Races is the world's largest sailing ships event and one of… Read more
The Tall Ships Races Fredrikstad 2023
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