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“The classic Norwegian perception of ‘kos’ with a hot fireplace and good food and drink can definitely be related to the long winter”, says Arve Uglum, a celebrated host of one of Norway’s most popular TV-documentaries, about people who live in remote, scenic places.

“That kind of ‘kos’ once meant safety and survival in an existence when our ancestors couldn’t take peace of mind for granted during long, cold and dark winters”, he adds.

Arve Uglum
Arve Uglum.
Photo: Christian Blom

My own perception of ‘kos’ extends in all directions”, he continues. “The nicest thing I can imagine is reading to my youngest daughter before she goes to sleep. Then I know that she is warm, safe, and happy, and so I am. But ‘kos’ for me can also be a poker night with friends, a television series on the couch with my girlfriend, or skiing in the mountains.”

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Anja Stang
Anja Stang.
Photo: Anja Stang
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“In the summertime, this ‘kos’ culture is converted into the typical Norwegian bright summer nights with island hopping, friends and cool music, or a trip to the mountains and a cabin with a grassy roof and a grazing goat to trim it. I could go on forever”, Anja laughs.

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This even applies to her native ski resort Sogndal Skisenter, “where people are friendly, the slopes are varied and fun, and where you never have to queue”.

Helene Olafsen
Helene Olafsen.
Photo: Berre Media

Helene also perceives hiking, in both winter and summer, as relaxing “kos”.

“I really think of hiking in the mountains as ‘kos’, but also in the forests around Sogndal where I grew up. It reminds me of my childhood when my family often spent weekends here.”

Some six hours east of Fjord Norway, she finds loads of inner peace, quiet and “kos” whilst strolling down the pedestrian paths along the river Akerselva in the very middle of the capital of Oslo. Her riverside hiking is a relaxed way to move effortlessly between meetings and assignments like hosting shows and galas for Norwegian television.

As a break from snowboarding, she likes to go skating on a lake or in a skating rink. “Skating is definitely ‘kos’, because it’s literally easy-going.”

The importance of “kos” in the Norwegian way of living is elevated to an unseen level with the country’s special fondness for music and food festivals.

Crowd listening to a concert at the OverOslo festival
OverOslo Festival.
Photo: Gunnar Kopperud / Fotografgunnarkopperud.no

“The festivals now work hard to appeal to an environmentally conscious audience. The same festivals also offer good and varied food, often with locally produced ingredients prepared on site. And with culinary experiences under the open sky, it is understandable that many people choose to spend their holiday at such festivals”, Katrine Sviland says.

Ice Music Festival, Geilo
Ice Music Festival, Geilo.
Photo: Emile Holba
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“Because we Norwegians already flock to the mountains to go hiking or skiing, and each year we set a new record for how many nights we spend in the many self-service cabins of The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT)”, Camilla Bjørn explains. She is editor-in-chief at NRK P3, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s youth-oriented radio channel).

“We are increasingly many who look for the simple and scenic. ‘Kos’ is about fellowship, gathering together, and sharing experiences”, she adds.

No surprise, then, that one of Norway’s most popular TV-series is still the one that can be translated into ‘Where no one would believe that someone could live’. All over Norway, the whole year round, from the bigger cities to the inner parts of the fjords and valleys, “kos” remains king.

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