Some of the largest and most famous music festivals in Norway take place right in the middle of Oslo. Norwegian Wood, The Øya Festival and Oslo Jazz Festival all attract international-calibre artists and huge audiences, year after year. The Oslo region also offers numerous other festival experiences, ranging from concerts in beautiful surroundings, via medieval-themed festivities, to local festivals quite out of the ordinary. In the following, we present selected highlights from this summer’s festival calendar.
The Oslo region’s many fortresses are often used as arenas for different kinds of events, including music festivals. Fredriksten festning, majestically located above Halden close to the Swedish border, hosts several music festivals ever year. Among these is the heavy metal festival Tons of Rock, where Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Megadeth perform this year.
In the city of Fredrikstad, the culture and music festival Månefestivalen boasts the historic Old Town (Gamlebyen), the Nordic countries’ best preserved fortress city, as its festival area. Guests at previous festivals tell about a magic atmosphere and bustling cobblestone streets. Dum Dum Boys, Melissa Horn and Lars Winnerbäck are some of this summer’s festival headliners.
Festivals by the fjord and in the mountains
What better place to enjoy good music than by the water’s edge? Some of Norway’s finest summer festivals are held alongside the Oslo fjord. Among them is the Hvalstrand festival in Asker. This year’s festival brings Raga Rockers, Madcon and Lissie (US) to Hvalstrand bad, an idyllic functionalist gem which includes an iconic diving tower from 1934.
You also find the unbeatable combination of summer, festival and fjord at Fjordfesten in Sandefjord, which offers a daytime activity programme for families, and concerts for the grown-ups at night. The brand new Drøbak Music Festival takes place near the beach in Drøbak, a quaint summer town by the Oslo fjord.
The Norwegian mountains also provide magnificent scenery for summer festivals and concerts. Every year, Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt is staged outdoors by lake Gålåvatnet near Lillehammer, with the mountains of the Gudbrandsdalen valley in the background. The annual Peer Gynt Festival offers extraordinary outdoor cultural experiences. Another highlight during the festival is the Mountain Concert “by Rondane”, set on a specially designed stage that creates a natural amphitheatre.
Classical and opera
Classical music is highly valued in the Oslo region, as demonstrated by the region’s many classical music festivals. In the capital, you may enjoy classical music both at Oslo Chamber Music Festival and Kon-Tiki chamber music festival. In the inland region, Elverum Music Festival features both classical and popular music.
The Oslo region also offers several opera events, and opera in best enjoyed out in the open. This year, the Oscarsborg Opera at Oscarsborg fortress shows Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.
Knights and Vikings
The fortresses of the Oslo region are not only well-suited for musical gatherings, they are also perfect spots for historical festivals. At Akershus fortress, history comes to life as Oslo Medieval Festival occupies the fortress grounds at the end of May. In June, Hedmark museum holds a medieval festival by the cathedral ruins in Hamar, and in Tønsberg, Tønsberg medieval festival brings you back to the Dark Ages among the fortress ruins at Slottsfjellet.
Archery, jesters, knights and princesses are of course prominent ingredients of the medieval festivals.
Another fascinating stretch in the history of Norway is evoked at the Viking festival at Midgard historical centre in Tønsberg. The festivities take place in and around Gildehallen, a reconstruction of one of the Viking era’s large celebration halls. Archery is an integral festival activity here as well, and the audience may also enjoy live music, trading, crafts and plenty of good foods and drinks.
Have you ever heard of Ørje inflatable boat festival? Last year, close to 900 rubber boats were floating around on the waters by the Halden canal. Even more are expected to partake at this year’s edition, which is guaranteed to be an experience out of the ordinary. Ørje also has its very own water lock festival, with steam boat trips on the Halden canal, demonstrations of old craft traditions and “water lock jazz”.
In June, Åmot in Østerdalen hosts something as exotic as the timber floating world championships. The Timber Floating Festival also features an accordion meet-up, traditional dancing, local foods specialties and an art and crafts fair.
You will find several other fabulous festivals in our festival calendar for the Oslo region. Happy festival summer!