Here we show you 10 fun festivals in Norway. Norway holds a strong history and tradition of music in different genres be it folk, jazz, black metal, or romantic. And unparalleled musicians and recognised bands have become an inseparable part of the celebration culture of festivals in Norway. Not just music, but these festivals also bring to some of the best food and beverages that are closer to the Norway culture. So it’s always a great idea to plan your Norway trip dates around these festivals.
01. Norwegian Wood (music festival)
Norwegian Wood is an annual music festival in Oslo, Norway, held in Frognerbadet. The name of the festival refers to the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).
Norwegian Wood was initiated in 1992 by Jørgen Roll, Sten Fredriksen and Haakon Hartvedt, of which the first two are still on board the ship. The first two festivals were held on Bærums Verk in Bærum, but the festival was moved to Frognerbadet in 1994. Notable artists who have appeared on the festival include Johnny Cash, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Savoy, Bo Kaspers Orkester, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, the Kinks, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Jaga Jazzist, Madrugada, Suede, Faithless, Wilco, James Taylor, Sting, Linkin Park, Audioslave, the Dandy Warhols and Counting Crows.
02. Oslo Jazz festival
Oslo International Jazz Festival (Oslo Jazzfestival, established 1986 in Norway) is a Norwegian music event, held in August, with a focus on music form the jazz genre, performed on stages in Oslo.
The pilot project (1984–1985) was initiated by Aage Teigen. The first festival in 1986, had more than forty volunteers and the event received 350 000 Norwegian kroner in donations from Oslo Municipality. The music was largely traditional jazz, Dixieland, New Orleans jazz, etc. The organization became a Foundation in 1995, led by Truls Helweg, chairman of the board since 1995) and permanently appointed General Manager (Aage Teigen), at a time when the budget was over 5 million Norwegian kroner. Teigen was in 2002 awarded Oslo City Artist Award for his commitment.
In 2006, the festival held 70 concerts (of these 15 free) with 450 musicians on 18 stages with around 70,000 spectators. Aage Teigen was then general manager with more than 200 volunteers, and the music includes all genres of jazz. The new leader from 2007 was Edvard Askeland.
At the festival in August 2013, Nora Brockstedt was honored by a grand concert, where Come Shine and saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg presented highlights from Brockstedts repertoire in “brilliant versions”.
03. Tromsø International Film Festival
The Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF) is an annual film festival held during the third week of January in Tromsø, Norway.
The inaugural Tromsø International Film Festival was held in 1991. TIFF has 5 screening venues, including one outdoor now cinema. The total of admissions in 2020 it was 58500, which makes TIFF Norway’s biggest film festival.
Since the start in 1988 the festival has expended to more than 500 concerts and other shows, more than 1000 volunteers have shared their time and effort to gain the festival and countless artists and musicians from all over the world, have visited Nordlysfestivalen, and the city of Tromsø has been submerged in a musical extravaganza the last week of January.
The Northern Lights Festival has each year presented top artists in genres ranging from early music to modern, from opera to jazz, from chamber music to symphonic orchestras. The list of top artists that have visited the festival range over Norwegian musicians like Leif Ove Andsnes, Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine and international star performers like Martin Fröst, Yuri Bashmet and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Ensembles like Il Giardino Armonico and The Hilliard Ensemble, The Mariinsky Opera and Ballet, the symphony orchestras from Gothenburg, St. Petersburg and Oslo, are all on the list of festival participants.
The festival program have had an interesting mixture of top quality performances which also includes many artists from the Northern Norway.
05. Lillehammer Jazz Festival
The Lillehammer Jazz Festival is considered one of autumn’s most beautiful adventures. DølaJazz, Lillehammer’s annual jazz festival, has become one of the most important events on the cultural calendar of this peaceful town. Expect funky tunes and pioneering performances as a lively precursor to winter in this Nordic region.
Lillehammer Jazz Festival started its life in 1978 and has over the years grown to become one of the most prominent jazz festivals in Norway. The festival profiles Norwegian and Nordic jazz, but has always included renown foreign performers as well. Lillehammer Jazz Festival is not only a festival of musical expression, but to a large extent a project that connects people across age, professional background and gender.
06. Peer Gynt Festival
Based on a dramatic poem written by Henrik Ibsen on the historical life of Peer Gynt, who lived back in 17th century, the peer Gynt festival brings to life a celebration of the same.
The festival brings together some brilliant professional actors and musicians to enthrall the people with one of the finest theatre productions of all time. Based on the view point of recreation of traditions, the festival is currently being organized by several volunteers gathering together for the cause.
07. Saint Lucia’s Day
Saint Lucy’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day observed on 13 December. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, an early-4th-century virgin martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candle lit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.
Her feast day, which coincided with the shortest day of the year prior to calendar reforms, is widely celebrated as a festival of light. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as a precursor of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ in the calendar on Christmas Day.
Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated most widely in Scandinavia and in Italy, with each emphasising a different aspect of her story. In Scandinavia, where Lucy is called Santa/Sankta Lucia, she is represented as a lady in a white dress symbolizing a baptismal robe and a red sash symbolizing the blood of her martyrdom, with a crown or wreath of candles on her head.
08. Ice Music Festival
Ice Music Festival Norway (initiated 2006 in Geilo, Norway) is a “glacial instrument” festival founded by Terje Isungset together with Pål Knutsson Medhus. Isungset had the idea behind the festival and remains the creative director. The festival is unique because everything, including the venue, instruments, and art, is made of ice and snow. The last three years, the festival has been located at Finse.
For 2021, the festival will for the first time be arranged at Bergsjøstølen, Ål kommune. Around 30 volunteers and students work alongside ice carvers, designers, ice cutters, architects and artists for 10 days leading up to the festival to make adequate.
09. Ultima Contemporary Music Festival
Ultima is Scandinavia’s largest contemporary music festival, and since 1991 it has been a key arena for contemporary music and related art forms. The festival became a designated “knutepunkt” (cultural hub) in 2006 and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and Oslo City Council.
Ultima was founded in 1990 by Helge Skansen, Geir Johnson, Knut Høyland, Jostein Simble and John Persen, and is a foundation with 17 members, all of them professional cultural institutions or organisations.
The festival takes place during September and is staged at venues all around Oslo. Throughout its twenty-year history, all kinds of locations have served as Ultima concert venues. The events are staged both in large, established venues such as the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo Concert Hall and the University of Oslo’s Great Hall as well as in small clubs, shop premises, industrial premises, museums, schools and outdoors.
The Ultima Festival aims to promote artistic distinctiveness, trends and innovation and to make music of a high artistic standard accessible by everyone.
10. International Chamber Music Festival
A fatal combination and mixture of piano and classical chamber music, Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival involves and attracts great talents and artists from around the world who had been a part of international music scenes to come join the festival further serving as a major attraction for tourists around the world.