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Vinterferie: What you need to know about Norway's winter holidays

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Vinterferie: What you need to know about Norway's winter holidays
Vinterferie is a popular time for Norwegians to go on a cross country ski trip. Pictured are skiers in Lillehammer. Photo by Solveig Smørdal Botn on Unsplash

Schools will close over the next few weeks, and families across the country will dust off their skis, fish out their cabin sweaters, and go on vinterferie. Here's what you need to know about Norway's winter break.


Schools across Norway will soon begin vinterferie or the winter holidays. The holidays are typically associated with skiing and time spent with loved ones in an idyllic cabin somewhere in Norway's vast and stunning countryside.

Kids will be off school for a week, with most parents also following suit and taking holiday leave during this time.

The history behind Norway's winter holidays

While many today have fond memories of vinterferie, the holiday actually dates back to one of the darkest times of Norway's recent history, the German occupation. The first winter school break took place in 1942.

The first school break in February 1942 wasn't actually given to kids so that families could spend time off together. Instead, it was to save the fuel that schools used to heat classrooms in the coldest weeks of the year. The winter holidays went by a different name, too, brenselsferie, meaning fuel holiday.

A year after the war ended, the Norwegian government decided to keep the winter break. However, the purpose of the holiday was to spend time with family rather than rationing resources.

It's from here that the warmer memories of vinterferie in Norway began to be made.


When is vinterferie

This is a good question, and the answer to this will depend on where you live. The winter holidays begin on Monday, February 19th, for those in Oslo, Agder, Møre og Romsdal, Vestfold og Telemark, Trøndaleg, parts of Viken, and parts of west Norway.

The following week Inland, Rogaland, Troms og Finnmark, Nordland, Buskerud, and the rest of western Norway go on winter break. 

Parents aren't legally entitled to holiday leave during the winter break, but many choose to take it off.

READ ALSO: What you should know about Norway’s February holidays and traditions

What do people do on vinterferie?

Cross-country ski tours are a popular activity at this time of year, whether it's a one-day trip or a longer distance journey that spans a couple of days, with multiple stops at cabins.

It's not just cross-country skiing. All forms of the winter sport are popular getaways at this time of year. Families who prefer letting gravity do the work when it comes to propulsion will opt for a ski holiday at resorts like Hemsedal, Geilo, or Trysil. Now that restrictions are being lifted across Europe, people will also fly further south to soak up the alps.

Many will also take the time to visit family and friends across the county.

READ MORE: What you should know about Norway's cross-country skiing culture



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