What's on in Bergen: These are the biggest festivals and events taking place throughout the year in Norway's second city.
Bergen is a beautiful, bustling city known for its natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. With a picturesque harbour and historic wooden buildings, Bergen is a popular tourist destination in Norway.
Throughout the year, Bergen plays host to festivals and events that celebrate the unique character of the city. From music festivals and cultural celebrations to food and drink events, there is something for everyone in Bergen.
Are you planning a trip to the west coast of Norway in 2023? I know from the emails we get here at Life in Norway that many of you are. There's plenty to see and do whenever you visit, but perhaps you want to experience something a little different?
If you're starting or ending a Hurtigruten or fjord cruise in Bergen, then why not time your visit to coincide with a special event or music festival?
Major events in Bergen
Interested? Then you're in the right place! That's because we keep our eyes on the major concerts, festivals and other big events in and around Bergen so you don’t have to.
Whether you're a local or planning to visit, check out this guide to make the most of your time. Don't forget to bookmark this page, as we'll keep it updated throughout the year.
Bergen Whisky & Beer Festival
27-28 January: Hear experts from around the world share their knowledge at lectures and masterclasses, or simply try something you've never tasted before.
The event is held over two days at the Grand Hotel Terminus by Bergen railway station. A day pass costs 285kr, which includes a tasting glass. Tasting vouchers at 20kr each are sold seperately in books of five.
15-19 March: Borealis is a festival for contemporary music and experimental listening. Although sound and music are at the heart of Borealis, the festival also features talk, cinema, literature and visual arts events, as a way of expanding the conversation about music and its place in our lives.
Individual tickets are available for events. A festival pass can be bought for 500kr, which then allows entry to individual events for just 50kr. So, if you’re planning to go to multiple events this pass is for you.
Bergen City Marathon
29 April: The 10th anniversary of the city marathon will be staged in April of 2023 through some of Bergen’s most famous neighbourhoods. It's a great occasion for participants and spectators, as the start and finish line is at the iconic Bryggen.
Thinking of taking part? It's not the flattest marathon route, but participants do get to enjoy views of the city from Fjellveien. Registration is open now. If a marathon is a bit much for you, there's various shorter distances available too.
Nordic Media Days
10-12 May: Nordiske Mediedager is the most prominent and largest media-focused conference in the Nordic region. 1,800+ delegates attend from across the media world.
While the focus is on northern Europe, there's often speakers and attendees from the likes of Netflix and the New York Times. The festival ends with the prestigious Gullruten award show, the Norwegian equivalent of the Emmy Awards, at Grieghallen.
Norwegian Constitution Day
17 May: Join Bergen's locals to celebrate the biggest day in Norway on the city streets. Watch the parades throughout the morning and listen to the marching bands before fireworks round off the day an hour or so before midnight.
If you want to attend this important national celebration, you’ll need to book hotels well in advance. You must also expect many restaurants to be fully-booked. Never attended a syttende mai before? To get an idea of what to expect, here is Norway's National Day in pictures.
Tour of Norway
26-29 May: The Tour of Norway is an established cycling race through the spectacular scenery of Norway. This year’s event starts in Bergen and features the iconic Mount Fløyen climb for the first time since 2017.
Bergen International Festival
24 May – 7 June: The Nordic art community descends on Bergen for two weeks every year for the largest event of its kind in the region. The Bergen International Festival presents art in all its guises – music, theatre, dance, opera and visual art – at more than 150 individual events.
The King of Norway is scheduled to attend the opening of this year’s festival, showing its continued importance. Programme highlights include the opera Tosca and Japanese pianist Fuko Ishii, the winner of the 2022 Edvard Grieg International Piano Competition.
The festival has entered into a collaboration agreement with the Grieg Foundation, which has created a free events venue in the city centre for the festival.
26 May – 3 June
The longest jazz festival in Northern Europe hosts concerts that blur the lines between jazz, rock, ethno and electronica. Artists already announced for 2023 include Susanne Sundfør, Louis Cole, Treverket, Nelly Moar, Amalie Holt Kleiv, and Tribino.
Tickets are available now for individual concerts or a festival pass for the entire 9-day event. Note that festival pass holders must still reserve a place for some of the highest profile concerts to gain entry.
28 May: As the name suggests, the annual 7-mountain hike sees keen participants hike the seven mountains that surround Bergen. The whole day can be used to complete the 30km course which includes a total ascent of 2,200m.
Is that a bit much for you? I can't say I blame you! You could always try the three or five mountain hikes instead. Alternatively, there's no shortage of great hiking opportunities in the city if you're visiting at another time.
Bergen Gay Pride
4-11 June: The Regnbuedagene festival offers political debates, art shows, concerts, youth-events, film screenings, a colourful parade and different social events throughout Norway's second city.
Exact details of this year’s festivities are yet to be announced, although the parade will take place on 11 June bringing to an end three days of the ‘Pride Park’ festival. Prior to this, Pride House will host the educational and political events.
Bergen to Voss cycle race
3 June: The ‘west Norway classic' is one of the country's best-known cycling events. It also happens to be one of the most scenic tours in Europe. Cyclists of all abilities take part in this unique annual event. The 170km route follows fjords and mountains from the coastline of Bergen to the ski and extreme sports resort of Voss.
14-17 June: In recent years Bergenfest has firmly established itself as a modern music festival of both national and international interest. Day tickets or festival passes covering all four days are available now. Artists announced for 2023 include Sigrid, Ayra Starr, Iggy Pop, Ylvis and more.
Read more: Things to do in Bergen when it rains
Beyond the Gates
2-5 August: Norwegian metal music comes into focus at this four-day festival held across venues in Bergen. A full festival pass is available for 3,095kr.
Bergen Food Festival
1-2 September: Farm-based food businesses from the counties of Hordaland and Sogn & Fjordane promote their products to locals and visiting tourists alike in the bustling centre of Bergen.
Ung Matfest is for children between 6 and 16 years old, whereas for the adults there is an adjacent beer festival!
29-30 September: Billing itself as the ‘world's steepest race', Stoltzekleiven opp is not for the inexperienced. For more than forty years now Bergen's toughest and fittest competitors have taken part. The goal? To be the first to make it up the rough stone stairway from Fjellveien to Sandvikspilen.
Bergen International Film Festival
18-26 October: More than 120 documentary films, fiction and short films from around the world are presented at Norway’s broadest film festival. Held at Bergen Kino, USF and Det Akademiske Kvarter, BIFF has become one of the biggest and most important cinema events in Norway.
BIFF also organises dedicated screenings for local schools. The program for the 2023 event will be announced in August.
December: Pepperkakebyen is one of the world’s largest gingerbread towns, and it's right at the heart of Norway’s second city. Kindergartens, schools, businesses and thousands of individuals have contributed to the annual event since its creation in 1991.
What can you expect? Bergen in sweet miniature, and a whole lot more! There's houses, trains, cars and ships made from real gingerbread.
Did I miss anything? Let me know!
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