Glimpses from the history of Vinterfestuka

Winterfestuka in Narvik has a long history in the city and is held regularly in March every single year. The festival had to be cancelled during the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, and then it was 65 years since the last time the festival had had to be cancelled. In this story you get some glimpses of Vinterfestuka’s long history and diversity.

Initially, the festival was run by Narvik Tourist Board, but in 1997 the Vinterfestuka Foundation was established with a more independent organization that could arrange both Vinterfestuka and other events.

French festival in 1956

Before Vinterfestuka became more as we know it from recent years, the festival had a slightly different shape. In 1956, the French Festival was held in Narvik. The festival contained, among other things, a ball at the Hotel Grand Royal, art exhibition, plays, many beautiful window displays in local shops. French Ambassador Albert Ledaux was also present at the festival. The following year the festival was called “Festival Narvik”.

From the French Ball at the Hotel Grand Royal in 1956


The children’s parade during Vinterfestuka also has a long tradition, where children dress up and have fun. Here is a small selection of photographs from the children’s parade in 1974!

The children’s parade has offered many fun and inventive costumes over the years!

Winterfest Week

Many of Narvik’s inhabitants dress up during Vinterfestuka. For the men, it is usually shirt and vest, with a navvie hat on the head. Both the vest and the hat are often decorated with pins and buttons.  For the ladies, it is usually a long skirt with blouse and shawl, while the evening gown is used for parties.

Wreath of Sculptures

It is tradition that Rallaren and Svarta Bjørn are described during VU with commemorations and speeches, here from the wreath-laying ceremony of Rallaren in 1972 and Svarta Bjørn in 2009.

Bekransning av Rallaren (skulptur) i 1972. Foto Haarek Dybvik / Narvik Kommunale Fotosamling

Black Bear of the Year

Every year since 1959, a Black Bear of the Year has been appointed, which becomes an ambassador for Narvik and Vinterfestuka.

Arts and culture in VU

Ever since the French Festival in 1956, there have been elements of art during Vinterfestuka, including art exhibitions, music and theater! Here is a small selection: