It has been said that every little Norwegian town and village has its own festival. From May to September more than 200 festivals are staged all over the country, and from this plethora of events MIC picks out the most central ones.
The Quart Festival which is held in the south-western town of Kristiansand is arguably Norway's biggest festival. Last year's attendance was in the excess of app. 60 000 and the event is still growing. Blessed with stable and sunny weather and an idyllic setting, the festival can be hard to fault if you're in for a mix of the biggest international acts, up-and-coming Norwegian bands, outdoor venues, club gigs and a variety of genres that stretch from rock and metal to rn'b, electronica and hip-hop. The festival's headliners are a well-balanced mix of international and Norwegian acts, and the large shows on the biggest stages are complemented by more intimate gigs on smaller stages and in vibrant clubs down-town.
This year's headliners include international headliners Morrissey, Slipknot, The Darkness, Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, Scissor Sisters, Monster Magnet, Kelis, Danko Jones and The Hives as well as such key domestic acts as Sissy Wish, Samsaya, Gisli, Equicez, Span, Noora, Silver, Gluecifer, Tungtvann and Jim Stärk.
The festival runs from July 5. to 10.
Further info (in English) on directions can be found here.
Kongsberg Jazz Festival
One of the country's oldest festivals – inaugurated in 1965. Despite its age, the festival is as vital as ever with a profile that spans from free improv, mainstream jazz, electronica to rock and ethnic/world/crossover music. Fresh blood is tickling through the administration's veins in the form of Martin Revheim - former head of renowned Oslo club Blå (one of the Wire Magazine's favourite venues and hailed as one among the world's 50 best clubs by Down Beat). Some outdoor concerts, but the majority of the acts play intimate club gigs.
Revheim has brought with him his eclectic and forward-thinking booking philosophy to the mid-sized town of Kongsberg and its respected jazz festival. This year's programme is centred on one of jazz’ most central icons: Ornette Coleman. Other acts worth checking out on the vibrant festival’s roster are Silje Nergaard, Atomic, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Solveig Slettahjell Slow Motion Orchestra, Tomasz Stanko, Palace of Pleasure, John Scofield, Magnet, Milton Nascimento, Joe McPhee,
The Kongsberg Jazz Festival runs from June 30 to July 3.
More info can be found here.
Despite being one of the youngest of the major festivals, the Øya Festival is steadily growing. Set in an idyllic setting in the Medieval Park on Oslo's East Side, the festival has quickly established itself as a key venue for Norwegian bands, both major acts as well as up-and-coming ones. The focus is primarily on Norwegian bands with a few well-selected international acts blended in. Club concerts at vibrant venues such as Mono and Garage complement the three outdoor stages in Oslo's Medieval Park.
This year's line-up is one of the strongest ever and includes acts The Soundtrack of our Lives, Air, The Streets, Sondre Lerche, Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band, Euroboys, Pleasure, Minor Majority, We, Julian Berntzen, Savoy, and Jim Stärk.
The Øya Festival runs from August 11-14.
More info here.
Molde International Jazz Festival
Norway's biggest jazz festival and a key event in a European context. Since its birth in 1961, Molde has supplied a broad spectrum of genres and performers to a growing audience. The roster includes a wide variety of genres, not just jazz. In the idyllic, mid-sized town of Molde on the north-western coast of Norway, one can experience rock bands playing in a venue next to a free jazz collective supporting key world/ethnic music performers. The majority of the concerts take place in the many club venues or in one the bigger halls – there's also the occasional outdoor show as well as the compulsory opening parade. The setting is beautiful; mountains meet the sea – the performers meet a vibrant audience.
This year's artist in residence is renowned young Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik, who’s set to play with a number of bands and constellations including a duo with sax player Håkon Kornstad, a performance with his own trio, with the Free Fall trio and the AtomicSchoolDays project. Other bands and performers include Petter Wettre Quintet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Branford Marsalis, Louie Vega, Stevie Wonder, Stian Carstensen, Solveig Slettahjell and Slow Motion Orchestra, Xploding Plastix, Terje Rypdal, Nils Petter Molvær, Magnet, Tord Gustavsen Trio and Elektrofant. .
The Molde Jazz Festival runs from July 12-17
More info in English can be found here.
Førde Folk Music Festival
Norway's key folk/ethnic/world/crossover festival. This year's festival theme is Caribbean music and performers from Colombia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Cuba represent the region. The programme also sports representation from such diverse countries as Iraq, Vietnam, India, South Africa, China and New Zealand – performers that are set to perform in the idyllic town of Førde which is located in west-Norway.
Highlights include Petrona Martinez from Colombia, Ebony Steelband from Trinidad, Cuban outfit Asere, Inuit singers Siqiniup Qilauta, Maori Te Waka Huia and Sami chanter Ingor Ante Ailu Gaup. The programme is rich and extensive and has something to offer to most tastes.
The Førde Folk Music Festival runs from July 1-4
More info here.
International Chamber Music Festival Stavanger
The International Chamber Music Festival in west-coast town Stavanger is one of the leading Scandinavian chamber music events. The festival manages to bring together the established greats with the up-and-coming. Inspiring surroundings, vital performers, great acoustics and night after night with lasting musical memories – the ICMF is hard to beat.
This year's programme includes performances by such respected performers as Fabio Bondi, the Keller Quartet, the Rosamunde Quartet, London Winds and clarinettist Michael Collins, to name but a few of the acclaimed names on the ICMF roster. This year’s composer in residence is Latvian Peteris Vasks.
The International Chamber Music Festival Stavanger runs from August 10-15.
More info here.