Top 5 Norwegian music festivals

Norway is a nation that loves music and is well known for its festivals. Tutor Anitra Irrera tells us which 5 Norwegian music festivals are well worth a visit.

1. Festspillene i Bergen

The Bergen International Festival was established in 1953 and is the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. 200 events, in the spheres of music (mainly classical), opera, theatre and dance are staged in the course of 15 days in 15 venues, including the homes of Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull. What I love about this festival is that the whole city transforms during these two weeks with music and dancing in the streets and an amazing atmosphere that you don’t need to buy a single ticket for to experience.

2. Øya Festivalen

Oslo’s big rock, pop and indie festival that has attracted such greats as Sonic Youth, Morrissey, Beck, Mogwai, The Flaming Lips, The Stone Roses, Bjørk, Outkast, Røyksopp, Madness, Kraftwerk, Queens of The Stone Age, Pulp and Blur.

3. Molde Jazz Festival

Molde International Jazz Festival was established in 1961 and is Europe’s second oldest jazz festival. It attracts some of the biggest names in the field – Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton. What I personally find very special about this festival, apart from the very charming Molde dialect you get to hear, is the Second Line parade led for years by the late “Uncle” Lionel Batiste, an iconic jazz musician from New Orleans.

4. Bergenfest

When I started going to this festival it was called Ole Blues and focused on blues and Americana. Now it has grown into one of the leading music events in Norway with a much more diverse music profile and a much larger audience. It has also changed to an outdoor event and is now situated around Bergenhus Fortress. Some of the many artists who have played at Bergenfest are: Emmylou Harris, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Lana Del Rey, Tori Amos, Aurora, ZZ Top, First Aid Kit and Alt-J.

5. Nattjazz festivalen

Bergen International Jazz Festival is one of the largest festivals in Norway. Its emphasis is on ethnic and contemporary jazz. It’s held annually in late May, coinciding with Festspillene I Bergen, something that makes these two weeks in May a concert marathon! It’s by far the best time to go to Bergen. Some of the many artists that have performed at Nattjazz are: Dianne Reeves, Dr. John, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nils Petter Molvær, Bonnie Prince Billy, Salif Keita, Gotan Project and Bill Evans.

Norway is a nation that loves music and is well known for its music festivals. Tutor Anitra Irrera recommends her top five.


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