Embrace the snow and taste the rakfisk (if you’re brave) at Valdres’ annual Rakfisk Festival, emerging into a side of traditional Norway not often seen by those not in the know. Held every year on the first weekend of November, this festival of food, fun and music epitomises the cultural heritage of Valdres, and heralds a joyful start to the long-awaited winter. And now, to tell you what rakfisk actually is – the Norwegian delicacy of semi-fermented trout.
Actually delicious (it wouldn’t have lasted this long if it wasn’t), specialist traditional rakfisk producers are scattered throughout all of Norway, and each year converge in Valdres to much anticipation. This year, the Rakfisk Festival dates are in the first week of November. Known as a time of turning the rakfisk ‘on their heads’, this is one of the largest food festivals in all of Norway, and is certainly the largest in little, beautiful Valdres.
Surrounded by the Jotunheimen Mountain range and snow-peaked rolling hills, the scene is set each year for a scenic, snowy escape into Norway’s foodie legacy as the usually quiet streets of Valdres burst with liveliness, the bustling of 25,000 strong crowds, and over 100 busy producers. An ode to Norway’s foodie past, Valdres’ crowded, market-place streets are filled with evenings of music, dancing, laughter and singing, as well as stalls full rakfisk, shrimp, cheese, meat, wool, wood, leather and handicrafts.
The evenings come alive to the tunes of a multitude of bands and artists, this year ranging from the 80s-punk rock and 90s-cool of ‘Funky Town’ to the classic Norwegian singers and bandmates of ‘Ni Liv’.
A winter wonderland of slightly Game of Throne vibes, this is a must-do for any November Valdres visit, and is only a 20-minute drive from the fairy-tale woodland escape of Herangtunet Boutique Hotel. A cosy design hub of rural bliss and fabulous food – and not too far to stockpile your rakfisk provisions, either.
Peek in our Travel Journal for more Norway culture delights, from the Nordland Artscape to Snohetta’s Norwegian viewing hut, where you can spy the last of the reindeer. Our other favourite Norwegian base is Juvet Landscape Hotel in Alstad, a design den of glass viewing boxes, as if taken right off the set of cult film, Ex Machina.