Popular Food Festivals in Norway

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Norway’s food scene has been steadily improving over the past couple of decades. The country now boasts several exciting food festivals blending local produce and seafood with the latest trends.

A big part of the fun associated with travelling, in my book, is sampling new foods. Eating like a local is a sure fire way to create new memories and get insight into another culture.

Norwegian waffles and strawberries.
Norwegian waffles and strawberries.

Foodie trends like craft beer, local cheeses, single-origin coffees and artisanal bread may have started a bit late in Norway, but they are now firmly established.

At least in the cities, you don’t have to look too hard to find exciting foods, and festivals make it even easier to discover new flavours.

From cosy Trondheim to coastal Bergen, via Mandal’s shellfish extravaganza, let’s explore together why Norway’s food festivals are not just foodie events, but a celebration of life and culture.

So, grab your favourite drink and ready your tastebuds for a gastronomic journey like no other! From Norway's must-try foods to something new, here are the leading food and drink festivals in Norway.

Stavanger's Gladmat festival

Next event: 26-29 June, 2024

Gladmat transforms Stavanger’s city centre into a vast festival ground with about 150 stands, not counting a bunch of restaurants hosting special events. More than a place to sample new dishes, the festival is meant as a showcase of culinary expertise.

There are chef competitions where the public joins the city’s top chefs as judges, in an interactive feast.

In the festival’s main tent, called Kokepunktet (literally: The Boiling Point), pro chefs on stage dazzle the crowds with their culinary magic, and share practical tips for cooking at home.

Outside of the festival’s official locations, restaurants across the city challenge themselves with new concepts and extended hours. Whether you're grabbing a quick bite or sitting down for a multi-course meal, there's something to satisfy every palate.

Bergen Food Festival

Next event: 6-7 September, 2024

Bergen Food Festival (Matfest) is another must if you’re in the area at the right dates. The two day event takes over the public plaza area near Lille Lungegårdsvannet, that octagonal pond not too far from the train station.

Norwegian pancakes in Bergen.
Norwegian pancakes in Bergen.

Several restaurants are also participating, offering unique festival events that showcase local flavours in new, imaginative ways. The festival also boasts its very own bar, where you can sample local cider, beer, gin and aquavit.

For the culinary curious, the festival hosts inspiring “Learn from the Best” food and drink courses in a special tent. These sessions are a chance to glean tips from some of the region's finest chefs and producers.

As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Bergen proudly embraces its international connections. The festival features skilled chefs from other European UNESCO cities, adding a global flair to the local scene.

Hardanger International Cider Festival

Next event: 9-11 May, 2024

This relative newcomer to the scene (it started in 2019) focuses on food of the liquid kind.

The Hardanger fjord is known for its fruit orchards, and the Hardanger International Cider Festival showcases the best Norway has to offer on the cider front.

The festivities kick off with cider-themed dinners throughout Hardanger, and continue with a “cider safari”, offering a close-up look at cider production.

The main festival day in Odda has expert-led tastings at historic cider farms and educational gatherings for cider producers aiming to share knowledge and expand their craft.

Hardanger's cider producers are on a mission to establish Hardanger as a brand synonymous with excellence, akin to France’s Champagne.

Apple farm in the Hardanger region.
Norway's Hardanger region is renowned for its orchards and cider production.

Like Champagne, Hardanger cider enjoys protected geographical indication, in a hope to enhance its visibility and appreciation globally.

Norwegian Rakfisk Festival in Fagernes

Next event: 31 October – 2 November, 2024

Not for the faint of heart, the Rakfisk Festival lets you sample a cherished (among some) traditional Norwegian food. Rakfisk is a dish made from fish, typically trout or char, which has been salted and left to ferment for several months.

The process allows the fish to develop a strong, pungent flavour and a soft texture. It is typically eaten uncooked and served with flatbread or lefse (a soft Norwegian flatbread), along with accompaniments such as sour cream, raw onions, and boiled potatoes.

The festival features 100 stands highlighting local rakfisk, but also other food products such as baked goods and charcuterie. If fermented fish is not your thing, you can always enjoy song and dance every festival evening.

Mandal Shellfish Festival

Next event: 8-11 August, 2024

The Mandal Skalldyrfestival attracts over 60,000 visitors yearly, and transforms the small coastal town into a hub of music, seafood, and fun.

The town’s waterfront street, Bryggegata, comes alive with restaurant tents overflowing with mouth-watering seafood dishes that blend local ingredients with exotic flavours from around the globe.

There are activities for children, who can learn culinary skills at a special kokkeskole (cooking school). Adults might try their hand at the World Championship in shrimp peeling — an event as entertaining as it sounds!

It is often said that the southern tip of Norway has the best summers. Check it out for yourself while experiencing the largest seafood festival in the country!

Trøndelag Food Festival, Trondheim

Next event: 1-3 August, 2024

We saved the best for last! Trøndelag Food Festival features 200 exhibitors, all eager to showcase a slice of their unique culinary traditions. Best of all, it blends foodie paradise with the liquid happiness that is craft beer.

Indeed, the Trondheim Food Festival is a joint event with the local Brewing festival (Bryggerifestivalen), and the combined events have earned their stripes on the global stage.

In 2023, the festival was lauded by veranda.com as one of the top 8 places to be in August.

Like many of its counterparts, it offers cooking seminars and special activities for children. Here you can find both inspired dishes and local ingredients ranging from organic vegetables to dried and cured meats, artisanal cheeses and baked goods.

Local restaurants are in on the fun, with some of them having dedicated stands on the festival grounds, where they serve specially designed dishes featuring local ingredients.

Read more: Major Events in Trondheim, Norway

As for the brewing festival, I cannot overstate the festive atmosphere that comes from the outdoors consumption of multiple sample-sized servings of locally brewed beers.

The setting will remind you of German beer gardens, if you’ve ever experienced those, but the extra excitement that comes from this being a rare annual event, in the equally rare Trondheim sunshine (sun is not guaranteed but it tends to show itself a lot more than average in August).

The organisers, Oi! Trøndersk Mat og Drikke, have set ambitious goals for the festival. By 2025, they aim to make it Europe’s top food and brewery festival, a global talking point, and a platform for innovation in local food and brewery production.

Have you attended one of Norway’s food festivals? Be sure to let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

About Daniel Albert

Daniel was living a perfectly normal life as a journalist in Canada until he was swept off his feet by a Norwegian. He now lives in Trondheim where he still works in communications.

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