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Your guide to the best festivals

When music and food determine the route

With so many festivals happening in Norway, you are best off following your inner rhythm. Professional festival photographer Tord Litleskare leads the way.

Planning can be as pleasurable as letting your musical taste decide where you go this summer, like if you were an untamed breeze flowing through Norway on a whim. Find yourself attending exotic lesser-known music festivals in Instagram-friendly nature, as well as in the middle of the crowd at huge festival gigs in the larger cities.

To fill up your stomach, make gourmet stops at the many food festivals along the way, that serve local delicacies.

Discover new music – and destinations

Tord Litleskare is a free-spirited chap. He works as a photographer and project manager and editor for, a resource site for the Norwegian music industry.

“Luckily, I am free to cover music and artists that I care for personally, and that freedom strongly influences where I travel in the summer festival season.”

For a safe start, Tord points out festivals in the bigger cities, as he believes he will find the most interesting artist there. It could be the Pstereo festival in Trondheim, Utopia in Stavanger, Øyafestivalen and OverOslo in Oslo, and Bergenfest in his native town of Bergen.

“Like others who are into music, I let the artists decide where I travel. But this is a question of where you are in life. When I was 17 or 18, I was ready to go anywhere. That attitude has changed a bit” Tord explains.

But he understands the adventure-seeking festival crowd who look for unusual nature experiences.

“The Vinjerock and Træna festivals are both fit for youngsters who are hungry for new experiences in the middle of nature, and who have an urge to discover new places. That crowd seems especially dedicated, because after all it’s an investment of time and money to travel that far.”

Tord adds that another advantage of going to the lesser-known festivals is the possibility of experiencing new talents who may later play only at the biggest gigs.

And a rising trend is festivals that specialize in music genres. More people tend to choose their festivals according to what I would call rather quirky musical tastes. The huge artist names that used to unite large crowds become rarer, as there aren’t many Paul McCartney's left, and tastes are constantly diversifying”, Tord states.

He adds that Nattjazz in Bergen, and Tons of Rock and Ultima in Oslo as great examples of genre festivals.

Open your mind – and your mouth

The same recipe is employed by the increasing number of Norwegian food festivals, as they are constantly diversifying and specializing in the reborn interest in all that local food has to offer, all year round, all over Norway.

In the city of Haugesund, you will find The world’s longest herring table every year in August. In Hjelmeland, there is the Norwegian fruit and salmon festival every September, and Valdres is known for its quirky and beloved Norsk rakfiskfestival where they serve semifermented trout every November. The sur & bitter craft beer festival in Sandnes is the place to be for beer enthusiasts in September, and The klipfish (bacalao) festival dominates the city of Kristiansund in late June. The list of food festivals gets longer every year.

Foodies and music lovers finally have much in common when it comes to following their taste. Those who travel wherever their favourite chef or musician go on tour can make extensive round trips: “When huge artist names like Sting or Elton John come to Norway, it often happens that they go all over the country to give concerts”, Tord says.

So which festival experiences would Tord Litleskare recommend for people who are new to Norway?

“Start with a couple of days in the capital of Oslo to explore all new things that are happening, including some festivals. Then, jump on the train for a scenic voyage over the mountains to Fjord Norway and Bergen, to experience one of my favourite musical festivals, Bergenfest.”

Back in 2014, Bergenfest got a lot of attention and boost when they had managed to book Lana del Rey months ahead of her album release, that happened just two days before she took to the stage in Bergen.

“That made their reputation”, Tord says.

Litleskare is still spending a lot of time as an active concert and festival photographer.

“And when I’m off work, I admit that I keep spending my time going to festivals, sometimes simply because the destination seems cool.”

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