From Vikings to Wood: Head to Norway This Summer For Top Notch Festivals

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Below are some of the top festivals being held in Norway this summer, from Oslo to the other coast in Bergen, check out what Norway has to offer this summer.

They range from viking and arts to wood, jazz, classical, dance and everything in between.

Viking Festival
Karmøy, June. Bringing Viking history and culture to life, this festival in the coastal community of Karmøy, half-way between Bergen and Stavanger, is the largest of its kind in this part of Norway. Taking place in a reconstructed Viking settlement, The Viking Festival, which centres around a big market, offers archery workshops, Viking music, Viking arts and crafts, Viking food, storytelling, sports and more. This year: 6-9 June 2013.

Grieg in Bergen
Bergen, June-August. This 10-week festival, which celebrated its 15th year in 2011, is Bergen’s largest event for classical music, with some 40 concerts taking place in Korskirken (The Church of the Cross) between June and August. This year: Mid-June-mid-August 2013.

Norwegian Wood Festival
Oslo, June. Started back in 1992, the Norwegian Wood Festival is now Norway’s top rock music festival – and a highlight of the summer calendar. The festival, held in Frognerbadet in western Oslo, attracts big names – Alanis Morisette, Mark Knopfler, Nick Cave and the Foo Fighters (among many others) have all performed here in recent years. This year: 13-16 June 2013.

Arts Festival of Northern Norway
Harstad, June. First held in 1965, this festival is the region’s largest cultural event, reflecting the many faces of Arctic Norway, and its cultural links to the outside world, through music, theatre, dance and art exhibitions, as well as performances for children. A top Russian orchestra, modern dance from China and fiery world music all feature on this year’s programme, which boasts 25 Norwegian productions and artists from 22 countries. New voices from the North, such as those of Moddi, Máddji and Tonje Unstad, will also be performing. This year: 20-29 June 2013.

Oslo Pride
Oslo, June. Known as “Skeive Dager” in Norwegian, Oslo Gay Pride is the largest cultural event for Norway’s lesbian and gay community. Events include a film festival, concerts, exhibitions, entertainment, political debates and a large festival area on Rådhusplassen, just outside City Hall. This year: 21-30 June 2013.

Midnight Sun Marathon
Tromsø, June. The world’s northernmost marathon attracts every year runners from over 50 nations, who compete at night, but in broad daylight – curtesy of the midnight sun, which doesn’t set in this part of Arctic Norway from mid-May to mid-July. The marathon itself is the main event, but there is also a half-marathon, a 10-kilometre race, a 4.2-kilometre fun-run, and a children’s race, so the whole family can take part. Please note that pre-registration is necessary. This year: 22 June 2013.

Voss, June-July. International extreme sports competition attracting hundreds of top national and international athletes, as well as devoted fans. Sports represented include sky-diving, rafting, kayaking, paragliding, hang-gliding, climbing, BASE and MTB Freeride. There are also concerts throughout the festival. This year: 23-30 June 2013.

Risør Chamber Music Festival
Risør, June-July. Established in 1991, and for several years under the direction of Leif Ove Andsnes, one of Norway’s (and the world’s) most talented classical pianists, this music festival presents an exciting repertoire covering a broad range of music from the 18th century to the present day, and the best of Norwegian and contemporary music. This year: 25-30 June 2013.


Hove Festival
Hove, June-July. This four-day festival, one of the largest rock festivals in Norway, takes place on an island just outside Arendal on the southern coast of Norway. It features both little-known Norwegian bands and large international acts – Jay-Z, Muse, The Killers, Faith No More, Beck and The Prodigy have all performed here. This year: 2-5 July 2013.
Kongsberg Jazz Festival
One of Scandinavia’s top jazz festivals, held in July every year, the Kongsberg Jazz Festival has since 1965 attracted big names to this little town west of Oslo. The four-day festival focuses on contemporary jazz, and many events are free. This year: 3-6 July 2013.

Førde International Folk Music Festival
Førde, July. This is Scandinavia’s main festival for folk, world and accoustic traditional music. The program includes concerts, but also workshops, exhibitions, children’s events, dance evenings and more. This year: 4-7 July 2013.

Riddu Riddu Festival
Kåfjord, July. This Sami festival in Northern Norway puts on an extensive program featuring music, film and art from around the world, attracting some 200 artists and 3,000 visitors every year. There are many activities for children too. A platform for various indigenous and non-indigenous people to meet, Riddu Riddu celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. This year: 10-14 July 2013.

Molde International Jazz Festival
Molde, July. Established in 1961, this is Norway’s largest jazz festival, and Europe’s oldest, showcasing jazz from all corners of the world, and attracting some of the biggest names in the field, from Herbie Hancock to Jamie Cullum, as well as some emerging home-grown talent. 100 concerts, many of them free. This year: 15-20 July 2013.

Gladmat Festival
Stavanger, July. Scandinavia’s largest food festival is a popular event, drawing some 250,000 visitors every year. Offering an arena for consumers and food producers to meet, the festival is a great place to discover niche products, taste local ingredients and get the lowdown on the latest culinary trends. Popular cooking classes cover anything from Italian food and wine to gluten-free tapas, and the odd celebrity chef has been known to make an appearance – Gordon Ramsay was guest of honour in 2010. This year: 24-27 July 2013.

Fredrikstad, July. Gamlebyen, Fredrikstad’s Old Town, makes an interesting and unique setting for this home-grown festival, which features concerts, street entertainment, outdoor cinema, local food and more. Take the kids along – this is a child-friendly event. This year: 26-28 July 2013.

Norway Cup
Oslo, July-August. Every summer, Norway hosts the world’s largest football tournament for children and young people, the Norway Cup. The tournament, which dates back to 1972, is hugely popular – in 2010 it attracted some 30,000 participants, with 1,380 teams from 54 nations. This year: 28 July-3 August 2013.

Hamsun Days
Hamarøy, late July-August. This is a unique festival celebrating the work and life of the famous author and Nobel Prize Laureate Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), widely regarded as the father of the Norwegian novel. The 10-day festival, a forum for literature, music, theatre, and art and folk traditions, takes place on Hamarøy, where Hamsun grew up.

St Olav Festival
Trondheim, late July-early August. The largest festival in Trondheim is Olavsfestdagene (St. Olav Festival), which celebrates Norway’s historical and religious heritage, as well as its patron saint, Olaf II Haraldsson. Many of the events take place in Nidarosdomen, Norway’s largest cathedral, an important pilgrimage centre. Expect concerts, church services, riding contests, a bustling medieval market, and more. The festival celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012. This year: 27 July-3 August 2013.


Notodden Blues Festival
Notodden, August. First arranged in 1988, this festival in Telemark now attracts well over 20,000 visitors every year, and is the largest of its kind in Scandinavia. Many big blues names have played here in the past two decades, among them Jeff Healey, Solomon Bruke, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Gary Moore, Jack Bruce, Robin Trower, Ray Davies, Buddy Guy and John Mayall. Workshops and youth seminars also form part of the programme. This year: 1-4 August 2013.

Risør Wooden Boat Festival
Risør, August. The picturesque seaside town of Risør, famed for its white wooden buildings and its pretty harbour, celebrates its maritime heritage with this hugely popular festival, which attracts hundreds of wooden boatsevery year during the busiest weekend in the town’s calendar. The bustling harbour is the centre of the action, with sea culture and traditional handicrafts very much in focus, but there are also street parades and entertainment all throughout Risør. A real festive atmosphere, and a great time to visit this Sørlandet idyll. This year: 1-4 August 2013.

Peer Gynt Festival
Vinstra, July-August. Named after Ibsen’s famous character, the festival, which featues some 30 events in 15 different locations in and around Vinstra in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley, aims to bring Ibsen’s work to a larger audience. Events include theatre, concerts, art exhibitions, literary lectures, stand up comedy (performed by both professionals and amateurs) and wilderness hikes. Much of it takes place outdoors, with the Norwegian landscape providing a suitable backdrop for Ibsen’s work. This year: 1-10 August 2013.

Øya Festival
Oslo, August. Featuring some top rock and indie acts, this five-day event is the largest outdoor music festival in Oslo, and features every year a line-up of musicians from around the globe. Held at the Medieval Park (Middelalderparken) in the oldest part of the capital, the festival attracts music fans of all ages. Øya is also an environmentally friendly festival, with 100% organic food and green ethics. This year: 6-10 August 2013.

Norwegian International Film Festival
Haugesund, August. This well-established festival, celebrating its 40th year in 2012, showcases the best of Norwegian and international movies. The winners of the Amanda Awards, or Norwegian “Oscars”, are also announced during the festival. This year: 15-22 August 2013.

Mela Festival
Oslo, July-August. Mela means “meeting point”, and this is exactly what the Mela Festival  strives to be. Featuring world music, film screenings, exhibitions, ethnic food, children entertainment and more, this multicultural event on Rådhusplassen is popular with all age groups. Free entry. This year: 16-18 August 2013.

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