Olavsfest in Nidaros


Nidaros Cathedral is Norway´s national sanctuary and was built over the burial place of Saint Olaf. The church is the goal for many pilgrims, comming from Southern Norway, Sweden or other countries, and from 28 July to 3. August there is Olavsfestdagene. I wouldn’t say the festival is celebrating the saint, the old Viking king. It is more of a cultural festival with elements of religion, religious music and other music, history and a town that are full of joy and celebration this time of the year. But there was also an international meeting for pilgrims last weekend, and they they mourned the terrible train accident at Santiago de Compostela in Spain, by a black ribbon in the wreath  that is traditionally hung on St. Peter’s staue on the church during the festival.


These pictures are from the night between 28th og 29th July, when a lot of people, pilgrims, priests, bishops and others, are gathered in the cathedral for St. Olav’s wake. These torch bearers are waiting for people to arrive after a three-hour walking service in town.




Not all photographers show respect, or, he probably didn’t noticed that the procession were comming….



Nidaros Cathedral was built as a Catholic church, starting around 1100. Since the Reformation in 1537 it has been the cathedral of the Lutheran bishops of Trondheim (Nidaros). The country is Lutheran, (except that there are a lot of different religions today), but as one journalist just say: our heads are Catholic for some days in July. There are more pictures in my Olavsfestdagene photo gallery.




Norway has been a Protestant country since the Reformation in 1436-37 but for a week or two in July we celebrate a king that became a saint, and an era when the country was Catholic. It is history, religion, music and pilgrims, and most of all, a great time in the town.

31 thoughts on “Olavsfest in Nidaros

  1. Lovely photos, Bente.
    I’m really enjoying all the photos you take of the Norwegian festivals & plays. You have some beautiful traditions in Norway.


  2. “…our heads are Catholic for some days in July.” 🙂 I marvel how people could build such grand cathedrals without modern tools. Are you getting tired of the summer? I’m ready for a change.


  3. Amazing look into your culture and customs. I love the 2nd shot of the photographer, not only because he does look rather startled, but the view of the cathedral is quite impressive.


  4. I find it interesting that yesterday many people here in Costa Rica made a pilgrimage from all parts of the country to the Basilica of the Angels. Most people here are Catholic so it´s impressive to see the amount of people walking to this church. Last year 2 million walked. Lovely photos and an interesting post.


  5. Wonderful images….very moving…I felt like I had gone back in time for some reason when I looked at them….now that’s the sign of amazing photography.


  6. Thank you for the images of the cathedral- I have seen it and photographed it from a distance and would have loved the opportunity of a closer look. At the time I learned that it is the northern-most medieval cathedral in the world and that historically it was an important destination for pilgrims coming from all of Northern Europe. It is good to see countries celebrating their own traditions in times when so many places are beginning to look and feel the same.


  7. Veo, Bente, unas hermosas fiestas (bien explicadas) por tus fotografía. Te felicito, y tanto más que por ahí aparece don Santiago y la ciudad de su nombre en Compostela, este año con luto tan fuerte como ocasional. Gracias por todo, desde Galicia. Un gran saludo.


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