Vinterferie: The Norwegian Winter Holiday

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A week off in February? Yes indeed. Many Norwegians take advantage of the school break by spending the week skiing, or seeking some winter sun. Here’s what you need to know about ‘vinterferie’ in Norway.

It’s that time of the year when the snow falls regularly, the temperatures fluctuate, and you’re never quite sure what to wear. Yes folks, we are deep into the Norwegian winter! And that means it’s time for a vacation.

Kristiansund’s Klippfiskkkjerringa in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
Kristiansund’s Klippfiskkkjerringa (Clipfish woman) needs her winter holiday. Photo: David Nikel.

For regular readers discovering I'm about to write about another Norwegian holiday season, you could be forgiven for thinking Norwegians never get any work done.

I can hear you now: “Come on David, they already have Easter, the public holiday stuffed month of May, the giant summer shutdown, and Christmas. Do you really expect us to believe those crazy Norwegians take another week off in February?”

Oh but they do, dear readers. They do. Or, some of them do, at least. Mainly parents. Unlike public holidays, vinterferie is not a “free” period of vacation, but many people choose to use some of their vacation days and take the week off.

What do Norwegians do in vinterferie?

The winter holiday (vinterferie) is a shared week of closure for schools. As such, many families disappear into the mountains, stay in their remote cabin, and spend their days skiing.

Long distance cross-country ski tours are common at this time of year. These can last for days, with shelter sought at the many DNT cabins dotted around the country.

There is method behind the madness. We're smack bang in the middle of ski season. It's milder and the days are lighter and longer than the “mørketid” (dark time) of early winter. Plus, snowfall covers much of the country!

Cross-country skiers in Norway. Photo: David Nikel.
Cross-country skiing is a popular activitiy in the winter holiday period. Photo: David Nikel.

But cross-country skiing in Norway isn’t the only choice. Those not fond of the activity may visit one of Norway’s downhill resorts, or fly south to tumble down the slopes of south-central Europe. Get ready Val d'Isère, the Norwegians are coming!

Yet more indulge in a spot of DIY, although any work on the outside of a property generally can’t start until later in the year because of snow and cold temperatures.

Finally, there’s the option to fly south for some winter sun. The Canary Islands are popular at this time of year, and there are charter deals aplenty.

This time of year reminds of the British Bank Holiday weekends, where the entire population heads to the tiny beaches of Brighton, Bognor and Weston, praying for something resembling sunshine.

If you visit a major airport or train station at this time of year, they will be full to the brim of families with far too many bags battling through the commuters trying to get home. Nightmare! Have you tried sharing a bus with a hundred ski bags? It's not nice!

When is Norway’s vinterferie?

Because I’m self-employed and without children, vinterferie is a period of time that usually sneaks up on me. Some years, I only realise because I wonder why the bus is so quiet on Monday morning!

Flåm station in winter. Photo: David Nikel.
Flåm railawy station in winter. Photo: David Nikel.

The dates of Norway’s winter holiday varies across the country. Presumably this is to spread out the economic impact, rather than have much of the country grind to a halt for an entire week!

Most of Norway’s population takes its 2024 edition of vinterferie from 19-23 February. The counties of Innlandet, Buskerud, Rogaland, Troms, and Finnmark follow the week later, 26 February to 1 March. For those living in Vestland, it varies depending on your location.

For those living in Svalbard, there is no winter holiday scheduled, although 23 February is a designated training and planning day on which schoools will be closed.

Do you like to plan ahead? In 2025, the relevant dates are 17-21 February, and 24-28 February.

Do you have any plans for Norway’s vinterferie? Or do you, like me, prefer to take your vacation when crowds are fewer and prices are cheaper? Let me know in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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9 thoughts on “Vinterferie: The Norwegian Winter Holiday”

  1. Really? These are official holidays for all who work in Norway? Can you make a list with all the holidays?
    I am a ski/snowboard lover, this week will be my favorit. I am very sad that I am missing it this year, but next year….

    • No not official holidays, it’s a popular holiday season though as it’s a week off for the schools. Most employees in Norway get at least 25 days off, plus the public holidays which vary each year.

  2. Are you sure Norwegians work…? 🙂 Seriously, I do love all these holidays though. In Finland we do have similar holidays when it comes to the ski/autumn/summer breaks, but the amount of public holidays especially in May, and the loooong Easter break (which seems to be the perfect time to take a whole week and a bit off work) are quite unheard of. But no complaining from here, makes working here even better!!


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