What a few days it’s been here in Norway. First of all, the three-year anniversary of the terror attacks of Oslo and Utøya, which I’m ashamed to say I forgot all about until I saw a tweet at around midday, as I was returning from a holiday in Spain.
Two days later, just as the memories were fading, Norway was plunged into fear and confusion all over again:
- Norway expects Islamist terrorism attempt within ‘a few days’ – CNN
- Norway boosts security in Syria-linked terror alert – BBC
- Terrorists have left Syria with Norway as a target – Aftenposten (English)
- Plans of terrorist act in Norway within few days – NRK (English)
I spoke to many Norwegians about the warnings. Many were sceptical, some even claiming the timing so close to the 22 July anniversary as political opportunism over potential new data storage laws. But there’s no denying those with plans to travel were the quieter, nervous ones.
Even before the threat level was lowered yesterday, the warnings didn’t stop Norwegians taking to the streets and enjoying the many festivals held around the country at the weekend. It brought back memories of the reaction following the 2011 attacks that shocked the world, as Norwegians used love, not hate, to fight terrorism.
The highest profile event in the country was undoubtedly the opening of this year’s Norway Cup. As the world’s biggest football tournament, the Norway Cup brings around 30,000 people, mainly children, to the fields of Ekeberg, high above Oslo, to take part in a festival of football.
A few teams dropped out and a more visible police presence was felt, but other than that the opening ceremony and concert took place as planned on Saturday, with around 1,500 teams ready to kick-off on Sunday.
Sticking with the football theme, this weekend also saw the final of the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship final tournament held at Oslo’s Ullevaal Stadion. A crowd of over 4,000 watched the Netherlands clinch the title thanks to Vivianne Miedema’s first-half goal, despite opponents Spain dominating much of the game.
Football beat fear in Oslo.
The annual St. Olav Festival opened in the grounds of Nidaros Cathedral on Saturday and as I saw for myself, the threats didn’t seem to impact numbers, with families spanning multiple generations out enjoying the weather. The festival aims to to “reestablish and strengthen Trondheim as a national ecclesiastical and cultural centre”, although quite how a concert from Ylvis does this I’m not too sure!
The medieval market was doing a brisk trade too, and as I made my way into the city centre this morning, preparations were being made for the Trøndelag Food Festival that gets underway later this week.
Business as usual in T-Town!
Norway’s second city was perhaps impacted most by the warnings, as the city’s airspace was partially closed, although contrary to some reports the airport remained operational. One of the reasons for the restriction was the Tall Ships Races, which brought thousands more people than usual into Bergen’s city centre over the weekend.
Further down the west coast, Stavanger hosted the Gladmat Food Festival, one of the biggest of its kind in northern Europe. Although the festival has been dogged by financial problems in recent years, local newspaper Aftenbladet reported provisional revenue figures for this year’s event show an increase of 25%.
Food beat fear in Stavanger!
So in summary, Norway got on with things this weekend. Exactly the way it should be.