Festival fun in the Oslo region - 2019 highlights

Festival fun in the Oslo region

Your guide to the region's 2019 festival season

A true summer festival brings together all the good things in life: tons of culture, great food, ice-cold beer, new friends and a happy atmosphere that extends well beyond the festival grounds.

The Oslo region offers you a wide variety of such festivals to choose from, all through the summer. What is more, many of the region’s festivals are held in unusual and picturesque spots, making for truly magic festival moments.

Below we guide you through some of the 2019 festival highlights, spread across the different kinds of scenery that make up the Oslo region: historic grounds, urban parks, fjordside towns and mighty mountains.

 

People at the Øya Festival
People at the Øya Festival
Photo: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

 

 

Culture and cobblestones: Fortress festivals

 

The Oslo region’s many fortresses host several cultural events in summertime. 

In the city of Fredrikstad, the culture and music festival Månefestivalen takes place in the historic Old Town (Gamlebyen) (26–28 July). Guests at previous festivals tell about a magic atmosphere and bustling cobblestone streets. Gåte, Isák, The Northern Belle and Ricochets are among the 2019 performers.

 

During Månefestivalen in Fredrikstad
During Månefestivalen in Fredrikstad
Photo: Walter Schøffthaler

 

Other fortress culture highlights this summer include outdoor performances of Verdi's Il Trovatore at Fredriksten Fortress and Aida at Oscarsborg Fortress.

The region's fortresses also see a few visits from knights, jesters, archers and medieval maidens throughout the summer. More on that below.

  


Music and rolling waves: Festivals by the fjord

 

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 (23–24 August). This year’s edition brings Aurora, The September When, deLillos, No. 4 and other fabulous performers to Hvalstrand bad, a functionalist gem with an iconic diving tower from 1934. The city of Asker additionally hosts the seaside Asker Culture Festival (21–26 May), with a programme that includes dance, theatre, exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.


You can also enjoy the unbeatable combination of summer, festival and fjord at Stavernfestivalen in Vestfold (11–13 July), which attracts a young and vibrant crowd with headliners like Bastille and G-Easy.

Drøbak Music Festival (14–15 June) takes place near the beach in Drøbak, a town that truly speaks summer.

The Bygdøy Ferry
The Bygdøy Ferry
Photo: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen



If classical is more your thing, Kon-Tiki Chamber Music Festival goes down right by the fjord at the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Oslo, featuring internationally renowned performers and chamber music from a broad classical repertoire.

 

 

Nature's own amphitheatre: Plays in the mountains

 

In the northern part of the Oslo region lie the mighty mountain landscapes of Gudbrandsdalen, which provide magnificent scenery for summer festivals and concerts.

The annual Peer Gynt Festival (2–10 August) offers outdoor performances unlike anything you've seen before. Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt is staged outdoors by lake Gålåvatnet – not far from where Peer himself started his adventures.

Peer Gynt by Gålåvannet
Peer Gynt by Gålåvannet
Photo: Visit Lillehammer/Ian Brody


Another highlight during the festival is the Mountain Concert “by Rondane”, set on a specially designed stage that creates a natural amphitheatre.

 

 

History brought to life: Viking and Medieval celebrations

 

The fortresses of the Oslo region are not only well-suited for musical gatherings, they are also perfect spots for historical festivals.

In Oslo, Akershus Fortress' proud past comes to life when Oslo Medieval Festival occupies its grounds at the end of May. Hedmark museum holds a medieval festival by the cathedral ruins in Hamar (14–16 June), and in Tønsberg, Tønsberg Medieval Festival (30 May–2 June) brings you back to the Dark Ages among the fortress ruins at Slottsfjellet.

Vikverir fighting at Oslo Medieval Festival
Vikverir fighting at Oslo Medieval Festival
Photo: Oslo Middelalderfestival

 

Another fascinating stretch in the history of Norway is evoked at the Midtgardsblot Metal Festival (15–17 August). This three-day outdoor festival celebrates metal music and Vikings on historical grounds in Borre, where the powerful Viking rulers of Norway once lived.

 Tønsberg Viking Festival (12–15 September) presents Viking inspired art, song, music, dance and theatre, and Tønsberg's restaurants, shops and museums all join forces to transform the city of into a Viking town for three days.

 

 

Finally, a bookworm's pick: Lillehammer Literature Festival

 

In the town of Lillehammer, recently included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of literature, the summer festival season kicks off with the largest literature festival in the Nordics (21–26 May). The festivities attract authors and literature enthusiasts of many stripes.

Lillehammer Litterature Festival
Lillehammer Litterature Festival
Photo: Caroline Strømhylden



Read more about culture and art in the Oslo region.

Other festival highlights


If you haven't found a festival to your liking so far, no worries! In addition to the events just mentioned, there are several other international-caliber festivals to choose from. 

Major music festivals in Oslo:

- Piknik i Parken (13–15 June)
- OverOslo (19–22 June)
- Tons of Rock (27–29 June)
- Øya Festival (7–10 August)
- Oslo Jazz Festival (11–18 August)

 

Oslo Jazz Festival
Oslo Jazz Festival
Photo: VisitOSLO/Thomas Johannessen



Classical festivals in the Oslo region:

- Kirsten Flagstad Opera Festival (20–23 June)
- Fjord Classics (26–29 June)
Elverum Music Festival (2–10 August)
- Oslo Chamber Music Festival (17–26 August)

Getting here


Getting to the Oslo region is easy.


Oslo Airport, with over 200 international flights a day, is the main gateway to the region. It is situated just north of Oslo, and is easily accessible from Oslo city centre by Flytoget Airport Express Train. 

 

Once you have arrived ...

Train is a comfortable way to travel, and Vy – the Norwegian State Railways connects Oslo several of the places mentioned in this article.

The railway company offers a journey planner in English, which makes it easy to look at your options and book your tickets in advance.