The Holmenkollen Ski Festival is quite honestly something I never thought I would attend. It’s a festival held on the ski slopes of Oslo in Norway and has been a tradition for over a hundred years. Throughout the 3 day event there are international ski jumping and cross country skiing events for thousands of spectators to view and when I found out it was on when I visited Oslo for work last weekend I just had to go!
Before this trip to Norway I had never seen what I would call ‘real snow’. By this I mean the kind of snow you can ski on, as I’ve only ever experienced snow in the UK and let’s be honest, we have a few flurries but nothing like this. I was so excited, I’d packed my thermals and all the extra layers and accessories anyone could need and headed out for the train.
It was PACKED! There were hundreds of people queuing to get onto a train and all of them were in the most amazing slope worthy gear, the colours were so impressive and the volume of people carrying their own skis was in part quite funny for me. What I also noticed was the volume of people already drinking, it was like a Six Nations match day in Cardiff except with snow and ski gear! I also looked it up on Instagram by searching under the hashtag ‘Holmekollen Ski Festival’ and saw some videos that looked like a fun party.
On arrival to the train station I slowly made my way to the Frogneseteren Restaurant and Cafe because I’d heard about the fabulous food there. It was quite hard to find initially because I’d seen so many pictures online but actually it had snowed so much the building was covered all the way around!
In fact if you look at the image below, you can see a picnic bench still in situ where the snow has fallen around it and only the top can be seen, so there was quite a lot of snow here!
After finding my way inside up the extremely slippery steps I picked up a piece of the infamous apple cake, and a mug of their infamous hot chocolate. I’d read a lot online about Holmenkollen before going here to see if it was worth it and this was the biggest recommendation, so I obviously had to try it. The cake slice was HUGE and I couldn’t finish it! It was pretty good but there were so many slices available, I felt like it had lost the ‘love’ of homemade even though it was probably still made there. The hot chocolate was also great, personally I loved that it came out of a tap that you could just help yourself to. There was a huge vat of it and I can imagine I would help myself a lot more if I’d been there all day!
After warming up here I moved on to my proper adventure – the ski festival. From the restaurant I walked down the hill and could not stop staring everywhere! There were so many fun things to look at, especially big groups who had set up for the weekend with their tents. I mean this is how Glastonbury has been for me in previous years, so this was the snow version! They’d dug out a pit, lined it with furs and set up a fire in the middle to keep warm, they had food cooking on it and crates of cider everywhere. I can imagine spending hours at Holmenkollen if I’d had a group of friends here too!
They even had hammocks set up in the trees so they could have naps in between the events and keep going, love the effort here!
After wandering through a section of snow to get to somewhere that sounded ‘loud and fun’ I discovered a dead end where there was a party waiting for the events to start. So I turned around and made my way back through the snow that was up to my hips and tried a different path. The walking was exhausting!
It was at this point I found a nice wide path and made my way down the slopes to find another event area, and found out the best way to get everywhere was clearly by sledging! Next time I’ll make sure to pack my own.
I managed to do all of this for free, without paying for any tickets so you can wander around the majority of the event. I did see some of the cross country skiers (some of which had been in the recent Winter Olympics!) and also some practice ski jumps from the tower. However to get any closer to the event and see more clearly / be at the finish line you have to purchase tickets.
The views from the slopes are also pretty great. It was grey when I was there and still snowing, so the clouds were out in full force. I’d expect the views from here would be pretty oustanding if the skies were blue and clear!
Unfortunately when the event is on you can’t go up in the ski tower to the platform for the views, which was a massive shame for me. It was something I really wanted to do but a small compromise considering how awesome the pretty much ‘free’ day out at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
I’d definitely recommend anyone thinking of going to this festival to go, there are specific areas for families and even if you’ve never had any interest in snow sports before it’s a fun day. I would recommend wrapping up warm (obviously!) but also you may want to consider that there will be lots of young people drinking. As a young person (just about…) it looked fun and I wanted to join in, but also it would be wrong of me not to mention there was a lot of empty drinks cans everywhere, and many many drunk people weeing wherever they wanted. The yellow snow is a pretty obvious giveaway! However like I said, specific areas for families (I walked through one and it had a separate area with an igloo and fun activities on!) so hopefully this wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
I enjoyed my time there and I’d go back again this year (8-10 March) and book tickets to see the ski jump events.
Have you heard of the Holmenkollen Ski Festival? Would you visit if you were in Oslo this week?
If you’re there you may also want to look up my previous post on what to do when you have 24 hours in Oslo
Or if you want to browse our travel section you can find it here. Let me know your thoughts!