In a country of around 900 festivals per year, there is bound to be something that strikes your fancy! At least 300 of these gatherings celebrate art and culture - and many more pay homage to Sami coastal culture, LGBTQIA+, seafood and more. There’s a steady stream of festivals throughout the summer months, but plenty in other seasons as well. Let’s look at a few of the most popular Norway festivals - from sports to film, music to theater - and when to plan your trip to be a part of the fun.


Nordlysfestivalen, Tromso - The “Northern Lights Festival” has been going on for more than three decades and celebrates music in many forms, including opera, jazz, chamber music and symphonic orchestra. The concerts are held in dramatic settings, including beautiful cathedrals. 


Ice Music Festival, Finse - Most of the stage and all of the instruments are made of ice at this cool (literally) festival held in the mountains of Finse. Art, music and culture collide through scenographic snow, ice and light sculptures, world-class musicians and even workshops about ongoing climate change and its effects on snow and ice.

Polar Jazz, Svalbard - This is the world’s northernmost music festival, lighting up the dark polar night with lights and sound. Notice the guards standing outside the venues - they’re there to protect you from venturing out into the snowscape and meeting the local polar bears. 


Birkebeinerrennet - The country celebrates prince Hakon Hakonsson escape to safety in 1206 with a 58-kilometer cross-country ski race from Rena to Lillehammer. Join the fun as you watch racers along what is thought to be the original route. 

Finnmarksvidda, Easter - This is Finnmark’s largest festival, held in Karasjok. Think of it as the Sami New Year. The Sami people celebrate with new gaktis (Sami dress), sprucing up their home and cooking large meals, then enjoying snowmobile, reindeer and cross-country skiing races, lassoing contests, art exhibitions and music concerts. 


Peer Gynt Festival, Vinstra - This festival starts somewhere between late June and early August and continues for nine days. Thirty-five events, concerts, exhibitions and lectures related to this five-act play-in-verse by Norwegian dramatists Henrik Ibsen. His work is staged in the Gudbrandsdalen valley to celebrate the local legend who inspired Ibsen’s poem - Per Gynt lived in this same valley in the 17th century. 

Bergenfest - This four-day, open-air music festival takes place on the grounds of Bergen’s medieval fortress and castle in the historic city center. You’ll hear a variety of genres, including pop, rock, blue, country, American and EDM. 


Forde Traditional and World Music Festival, Forde - This is the largest festival in Scandinavia and features music and dance from all over the world 

Riddu Riddu, Manndelen - This insightful festival celebrates Sami music and culture in an effort to promote and develop the Sami coastal culture. Camp out and enjoy the many concerts, films, workshops and performances. 

Gladmat, Stavanger - If you’re hungry, head for this massive foodie festival, where 250,000 gourmands, families and chefs from all over come to get a taste of Norway. The focus is on the bounty of the southwest coast


Mela Festival Oslo - This free festival at the harbor in Oslo features world-class performing arts and culture expressed through music, theater, dance, art and crafts and food from all over the globe. 

Oya Festival, Oslo - This four-day music festival attracts approximately 60,000 music fans at Toyen Park in Oslo. There’s a hip, young vibe - think Coachella - and plenty of raw, organic local food and music paraphernalia to shop for. Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys and Beck have all headlined in past years.


Ultima - For ten days, you can witness contemporary classical musicians from Scandinavia and beyond share their talents. It is the largest festival of its kind in Scandinavia and showcases avant-garde and experimental music. 


St. Lucia’s Day - This is the festival of light, celebrated on December 13th and marking the arrival of Christmas. Expect various activities and gatherings with song, Saint Lucia costumes and candles. 

Christmas Markets - Not so much festivals, as ongoing gatherings, the most charming Christmas markets in Norway at Spikersuppa, Oslo; Hadeland glassverk; Roros; Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo; Trondheim; and Kristiansand. 

No matter what time of year you visit Norway, there is bound to be a festival for you - a couple hours or even a couple days celebrating with the locals is an insightful way to immerse yourself in local culture.