The main city of southern Norway, Kristiansand, is the transportation and trade centre of the region and a thoroughly charming city. The renaissance style is readily apparent in the strict street plan of the area called Kvadraten. "Posebyen", the oldest section of town, boasts tiny, but charming houses in the traditional style of the area. The name comes from the French word reposer meaning to sleep, from when soldiers were billeted in private homes.
The Norwegian concept of the southern idyll conjures up islets and skerries and small white houses with lush gardens nestled between rocky coastline knolls. The same building style characterises the other southern towns as well. One of the region poets claimed that people's close contact with the sea has given them webbed feet and hospitable, good-natured temperaments.
Heddal Stave church
Photo: Johan Berge/NTR
Far out in the Kristiansand fjord lie Flekkerøy, Oksøy and other smaller islands as well as Grønningen lighthouse. During the summer months the whole area teems with life. Eleven miles east of the city is the Kristiansand zoo, which also includes Cardamom City and other attractions popular with Norwegian children.
From Kristiansand it is not far to other coastal idylls at Lillesand, Brekkestø, Bliksund, Gamle Hellesund, Ulvøysund, Skippergada, Tømmerstø and Ny-Hellesund. This coastal strip boasts the highest number of sunny days in the country. All summer long, crystal-clear water invites you to dive in, while the beaches and long, rounded coastal rocks invite you to relax in the warm sun.
Festivals & Events
Kristiansund Opera Festival, February
The Kristiansund Opera Festival is hosted and produced by the district opera in the city of Kristiansund. It runs for 14 days and has been staged in February every year since 1972. The festival presents a comprehensive menu within musical theatre and offers two to three opera productions, large church music productions, ballet and concerts.
Førde Folk Music Festival, July
Over 250 artists perform music and dances from all corners of the world, around the clock! Concerts, courses, exhibitions, club nights, festival parades, dance fun. There are festival activities going on at local museums, hotels, churches and in the downtown streets, leading to more than 80 events.
The Peer Gynt Festival, August
The Peer Gynt Festival is a ten day long cultural festival with an open air performance of Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt, with music by Edvard Grieg, open air consert "Ved Rondane", art exhibition, and much more.
The Hamsun Festival, August
The Hamsun Festival has been arranged every other year since 1982 with a focus on Knut Hamsun's literar work, his life and ties with this part of Norway. The festival is held on the island of Hamarøy, where visitors can enjoy the scenery and the local indigenous colour that characterises much of Hamsun's literary work.
Lillehammer Jazz Festival, October
The Lillehammer Jazz Festival is considered one of autumn's most beautiful adventures. The festival profiles Norwegian and Nordic jazz, but has always included renown foreign performers as well.
The Festival of North Norway, June
The Festival of North Norway is the most important art event in Northern Norway. During a hectic week the town of Harstad, located 300 km north of the Arctic circle, is turned into a cultural melting pot for artists with completely different outlooks.
The Northern Lights Festival, January
Each year, in the middle of January, Tromsø comes to life after the long polar night. The programme offers music in concert halls, churches and pubs, as well as dance, theatre and music ensembles of different sizes and types.
Tromsø Film Festival, January
Tromsø International Film Festival is Norway's largest film festival. It is the world's northern-most film festival and presents a cutting-egde international program, consisting of more than 40 feature films plus the latest in short films produced in northern Norway.
Telemark Folk Festival, August
The Telemark Festival presents traditional folk music from all over the world. With more than 50 concerts and work-shops for all ages one can learn traditional Norwegian dances, play a traditional instrument or study with our guests from abroad.
Oslo Jazz Festival, August
The Oslo Jazz Festival has been an annual event since 1986 and has grown to more than 60 concerts taking place in six days. The Festival presents the elite of Norwegian musicians in traditional, swing, modern and bebop styles, as well as many world famous performers.
Ibsen Culture Festival
The Festival offers pieces and impressions produced by great artists both from Norway and abroad. There are performances in the great Teater Ibsen and events in the town's art galleries and cultural venues. Young people from all over Norway participate in Ibsenstafetten.
The Ibsen Stage Festival, September
The Ibsen Stage Festival in Norway is one of the most significant international festivals in the country, receiving attention far beyond the national boundaries. Actors from all over the world arrive to meet Ibsen at center stage.