Bergeners learnt long ago not to let the Christmas spirit be dictated by the weather. Because although you may not be able to count on a white Christmas, there are few places that can top Bergen when it comes to a festive atmosphere. With a focus on light, warmth, singing, hospitality and local goodies, the festive period between the Seven Mountains is a real must.
You’ve probably already heard about Bergen’s unique Gingerbread Town. A seasonal community effort where all of the city’s schools, businesses, clubs and organisations come together to contribute their own unique gingerbread creations. You can see everything from lifelike renditions of the city’s iconic sites such as Bryggen and Ulriken’s TV Tower, along with imaginative offerings such as airships, medieval castles and magnificent spacecraft. The Gingerbread Town is open from November to New Year’s Eve, and takes place in Sentralbadet in the city centre, reports Marianne Johnsen from Visit Bergen.
Cosy Christmas shopping
This is the third year the Bergen Christmas Market is being held in Festplassen. Right in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw away from many of the city’s hotels, you can find unique presents and goodies from local producers and artisans. Buy a cup of mulled wine and have a ride on the romantic Ferris wheel, or stop for a bite to eat and something to drink in the warm bothy bar.
- Bergen has a rich tradition of brewing Christmas beers, and at the Christmas Market you can experience one of the many varieties on offer. The Christmas Market is open from 28 November to 22 December.
And while you’re in the centre, why don’t you stroll through Bryggen – the very heart of Bergen’s Christmas festivities. On the way, you can walk down Skostredet, perhaps Bergen’s trendiest and most charming street. Here you can feel the pulse of Bergen’s hospitality while you find your way to a free table.
Festival of lights
On 23 November, 30,000 Bergeners, both big and small, gather together for the traditional Festival of Lights at Festplassen and around Lille Lungegårdsvann lake. The city’s Christmas tree lights are switched on with a celebration of music, fireworks and a torch procession. You can’t help but enjoy the spectacular sight and cosy atmosphere.
Traditional Christmas Food
You can’t leave Bergen before you’ve tasted the unique Christmas food that Western Norway has to offer. Traditional Norwegian food such as pinnekjøtt and lutefisk, or perhaps Bergen’s own persetorsk? A wonderful speciality that you can only see and eat in Bergen. Heartily recommended!
If more modern dishes are more your thing, Bergen is packed full of innovative and renowned eateries. Bergen is a foodie city, Johnsen tells us.
Conserts and Fjord cruises
Bergen is known as “The Gateway to the Fjords”, and what can be more beautiful than a spectacular fjord cruise to experience Western Norway’s most impressive natural wonders in midwinter. Both day cruises and longer fjord trips depart directly from Bergen city centre at Fisketorget.
– But if a little culture is more tempting than nature, there are a number of Christmas concerts in the city’s churches, not least in Grieghallen. Some of these concerts are free, says Johnsen.
In addition, all of Bergen’s “regular” tourist attractions are open during the festive season. The Bergen Aquarium, Bergen Science Centre VilVite and the Fløibanen Funicular offer something fun for all the family. And in the unlikely event that the Weather Gods decide to send snow, just grab a sledge, take the funicular up Mount Fløyen and set off down Tippetue. Perhaps the country’s most exciting sledging slope! Once you’re down then you’ll just have to take the railway back up and have another go.
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