A Midnight Sun Dream

Northern Norway’s unique music festivals should be on the travel itinerary of any culture and nature enthusiast. Out of the many strong events we pick two favourites.

In Norway’s northern regions, midsummer equals Midnight Sun; the sun never sets. One sleeps when necessary and conducts one’s business whenever appropriate.The onset of summer brings a touch of Bohemian lifestyles for Norway’s northern population, perhaps in contrast to the country’s Southerners.

The near magical moods created in these intense settings calls for a wealth of festivals. Even though the summer is high season for festivals throughout Norway, a journey north of the Polar circle is called for if one is searching for a unique and exotic experience - just remember to pray for decent weather. Two key festivals that are not to be missed are the Festival of North Norway, which runs from 23rd to 30th of June, and the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival, staged from 9– 14 June.

Throughout its 48-year history, the Festival of North Norway, held in the town of Harstad, has played a pivotal role for Northern Norway’s art, theatre and music scenes. The festival is a multi-faceted affair that covers virtually all art forms and music genres, showcasing the full spectrum of talent ranging from international top tier performers to local artists. This year’s roster includes names such as violinist Henning Kraggerud, world music artist Kouame Sereba, crossover performer Ibrahim Malouf and the Amsterdam Kleztmer Band. Beginning in 1998, the festival has annually awarded a scholarship to young artists that have been given carte blanche to develop their artistic projects under the auspices of the festival. 2012’s Young Artist is Jennifer Torrence. The 28th of June sees the artist presenting her homage to composer John Cage with her project ‘Water Tank’ staged at Harstad’s waterworld Grottebadet - a genre-defying and interactive performance that explores water as an artistic element.

Beginning in 2012, the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival, a more recent addition to the Northern Norwegian festival flora, is now staged in three differing festival periods throughout the climatically varied Arctic year. A Winter Version in February which comes at the end of the dark, sunless-deprived season, and a Piano Festival held in Easter. The Summer Version features names of such calibre as pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Peter Jablonski, Nils Mortensen and Ian Brown. Featured ensembles includes Nash Ensemble from Losno, led by violinist Marianne Thorsen, and German string quartet Signum, and the festival’s in-house ensemble; Engegårdkvartetten.

Indulge in stunning Northern Norwegian scenery and culture in the land of the Midnight Sun!

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