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Enjoy Norway in the run up to Christmas

As darkness descends, people around Norway know how to create a sense of expectation and a great atmosphere. Here is some advice as to how to really feel cozy in the cold when traveling to Norway.

Photo: Kristin-Folsland-Olsen-Visitnorway.com

Henningsvær in Lofoten

If you're waiting for the sun to rise when you're in Henningsvær in Lofoten in December, you’ll have a long wait. The last sunset before the onset of the Polar nights is 7 December and the next sunrise is not until 5 January. But it will be bright and warm in all the windows, even though the wind might whistle round your ears at this time of year. This old fishing village may only have 500 inhabitants, but it's full of life from 1 November to 22 December. This is the time the so-called Pre-Christmas Adventure is organized in Henningsvær. The stores open every day of the week, the cafes and restaurants serve delicious food and there are concerts and other culture events on the weekends. And don't miss visiting the magnificent Kaviar Factory Gallery, that's located in a former factory (Kaviarfactory.com)

Førjulseventyret i Henningsvær

8312, Norge, Henningsvær

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Sweet dreams by Lake Savalen in north Østerdalen. Photo: Geir Olsen

Sleep in a gingerbread house in Tynset

Building a house of gingerbread dough is one of the most important crafts in Norway. At least, in households with one or more young children. In Tynset, they're raised the bar on this tradition several notches. Gingerbread houses have namely gone from being a delightful decoration, to becoming a place that people can actually live in. By Lake Savalen near Tynset in the north of Østerdalen, they’ve built a house decorated with the Norwegian version of jelly babies and M&Ms – that can sleep 28 guests. Mrs Claus works here and is naturally very busy packing all the presents that her husband will deliver. You're guaranteed a winter white landscape where you can also ski on the child-friendly slopes.


Savalen, 2500 Tynset

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Norwegian seafood on the Hurtigruten Christmas Table. Photo: CH - Visit Norway

Christmas along the coast

There’s plenty of light in the dark time of the year along the coast of Norway. You’ll discover this if you take a trip on a Hurtigruten ship. They serve Norwegian Christmas food onboard and as you sail along the coast, you can see how people are getting ready for Christmas. You also have a big chance of seeing Christmas lights dancing round the Christmas stars. On Christmas Eve, you can step ashore and participate in Christmas Mass in your arrival port. And if you want a really traditional Christmas, you should book your passage on the MS Lofoten, that will be retired from the Hurtigruten service in 2020. Its very well preserved interior dates from 1964.


As the nights grow longer, the people of Oslo head to a Christmas dining table. Such as here at Grand Café on Karl Johan. Photo: CH - Visit Norway

Christmas cheer in Oslo

Even though it's dark and the pavements can be icy and slippery, Oslo wraps itself in a festival mantle from as early as mid-November. Shopping mall Glasmagasinet gets into the Christmas spirit with fashionable Christmas lighting and everywhere you look there are decorated Christmas trees and warmly-wrapped, shiny-eyed children. Extractor systems all round the city release the most delicious aromas hinting at what's being prepared in kitchens here. The air is redolent with the scents of crispy pork, caraway seeds, meatballs, creamy sauces, mustard, sauerkraut and delicious, thick Christmas sausages. Interspersed here and there with the heady fragrance of coconut macaroons and kransekake cakes. It's no surprise then, that people gently squeeze together in the streetcars. Everyone's going to a party, everyone knows that the table will be overflowing with wonderful dishes that the table legs can barely hold the weight of. Naturally, there are many kinds of Christmas market, from the traditional kind at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History on Bygdøy (30 November to 1 December and 7 – 8 December) where you can buy arts and crafts and Christmas goodies, to the more refined, such as Grafill Art Market (14 – 15 December, grafill.no/r21/kalender/grafills-julemarked-2019). You can also go skating at Spikersuppa or Nordic skiing at Wyllerløypa in Sørkedalen. Without a doubt, Oslo is a perfect pre-Christmas destination.


Bergen, a city that’s good enough to eat. Photo: Kristoffer-B.-Fürstenberg

Christmas in Bergen

In Bergen, they also build a gingerbread village every year, that’s officially opened by the city mayor. The village includes replicas of the local football stadium, famous movie locations and factories. The village is in the Civil Center on Teatergate 37, behind Den Nationale Scene theater (16 November – 31 December 2019). And then there's the Christmas Market. Take the ride to the top of Fløyen to watch the switching on of the Advent Lights every Sunday up to Christmas, that’s become a wonderful tradition in Bergen.


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