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What are the rules and culture of park life in Norway?

What are the rules and culture of park life in Norway?
Vigelandsparken, or the sculpture park, contains many famous sculptures such as the Angry Boy or Spitfire. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash
Parks in Norway are a place to exercise, socialise, and throw something delicious on the grill. But before you make plans to visit one of these popular warm weather venues, it might be helpful to find out a little more about park culture and rules. 

Engangsgrill 

Meeting up in a park is often a full day activity. And when you’re planning on being somewhere for hours on end, you need to think about the food. Norwegians love to take advantage of the sunny weather days by grilling in the park with an engangsgrill or “one-time grill”. They are portable and inexpensive (around 25 kroner) and you can find them at most grocery stores for purchase. There is no need to try and impress with fancy entrees. The most common food to grill in the park is pølser or “hot dogs”.

Note that it is important to make sure your grill has completely cooled off before you dispose of it. Unfortunately, witnessing the fire truck show up to a park in Norway to put out a one-time grill induced trash can fire is all too common. 

Drinking in public

As of writing, it is illegal to drink alcohol in any public area in Norway, and this includes in the parks.  It is illegal, though you may find this fact surprising because a large portion of the people you see in parks will have a beer or glass of wine in their hand. Pre-pandemic, the police tended to look the other way and focus on more serious criminal matters. Today, this law is reinforced much more seriously due to infection control. Even though you may see others sipping away, keep your beer at home because you can risk a 2,500 kroner (250 euro) fine if you get caught drinking alcohol in the park. 

Båndtvang 

Wondering if you can let your pet run loose while relaxing  in the park? From the 1st of  April to the 20th of August every year in all of Norway, dog owners must ensure their pets are kept on a leash in all public areas. This is the general rule for Norway, though 192 of the 426 municipalities within the country have extended these dates. 

If you break båndtvang and allow your dog to be off the leash, you risk paying a fine between 1,800 to 8,000 kroner (180 to 800 euro) depending on where you live. In Oslo, the fine is 5000 kroner (500 euro). 

Many assume this restriction is set in place to protect other individuals. When in fact, the national regulation was set in place to protect  wildlife that are in a vulnerable period of development. 

For a list of dog parks that allow your dog to be off the leash in Norway’s capital city, Oslo, look here

The games

Sure, catching up and good food may be the two things you most look forward to when meeting friends in the park. Though participating in some of these popular park games is always a highlight and also a great way to meet others.

Kubb – Perhaps one of the most popular park games in Norway is kubb. Kubb is centered around throwing wooden batons at  wooden blocks that have been set up in the grass. The object of the game is to knock down all of the wooden blocks set up near your competitors on the opposite side of the lawn.  It’s easy to learn and needs only a minimum of two participants. 

Frisbee golf –  frisbee golf is growing  in popularity and is a game for those who are looking more to explore than to set up camp at one spot in the park. For a list of frisbee golf courses found in Norway, look here

Slacklining – It may sound odd if you haven’t witnessed it before, but walking on rubber ropes, also referred to as slacklines is a popular activity for residents in Norway to do on warm days in the park.  There are parks that have set up permanent slacklines for the public to use. Though oftentimes, people will bring their own from home and find a spot to set it up and balance between two trees. 

Curfew 

Parks are considered to be an open area for the communities in Norway and there isn’t a set time that you are allowed to come and go. That being said, many of the playgrounds within community parks have designated times where children are allowed to play in order to reduce the volume of noise in the evenings and early mornings. Adult parties and activities are also expected to keep it down after 10pm. 

Useful vocabulary

grillmat – foods that are cooked on a grill

alkohol – alcohol 

bånd – leash 

portforbud – curfew


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