If you’re looking for a long-weekend of good music, community spirit, camping in a fairytale scenery and of course, partying in the midnight sun, then Træna is the music festival for you. Over 45 km out at sea, the group of islands called Træna is part of the west frontier of islands scatter along the northern Norwegian coast. Only serving as a permanent home for 500 residents, the main island, Husøy, hosts about 2500 visitors for the festival each year.
It might be the spectacular scenery or the exotic experience of living at an outdoor party surrounded by miles of ocean, but personally, I think it is the wonderful vibes of community and fellowship occuring at this festival that has people returning to this peculiar music fest year after year. A few of the festivals I’ve been to before has this “see and be seen” hipness going on, where people keep with their own. This was the exact opposite. Talking to strangers, getting to know new people was very much encouraged, which is not necessarily the norm in Norway. And when it comes to the fashion part, that hip jacket or skinny jeans would not do the job, cause this place requires at least two layers of woollen undergarments. I kid you not! I wore at least three layers of wool to keep warm, as the regular temperature was around 10º C. That’s the Norwegian summer for you!
The music at the Træna festival is probably best described as diverse. There is something for everyone. You won’t get the huge headliners, but if you’re into individual labels, you’ll appreciate getting to know a lot of Norwegian and other up and coming artists. I mean, transporting artist to this place isn’t exactly glamorous, so the ones that make the commitment are of the sporty or needy kind. I discovered a few new favourites and got to see a few existing ones. Only problem is, you can’t really buy their music yet..
Do not, however, expect any light shows, cause the midnight sun parties all night too. Wether overcast or sunny, those strobelights will remain missing. You might get something similar to a light show in the concert lavvo, but it’s still a lavvo, so the facts that there are lights in there at all is amazing. The concert area is pretty small and there are only two scenes, so you’ll be able to catch every concert, no double bookings, and you’ll always find your friends again after doing a toilet run. And you’d might want to bring some antibac because soap or hot water is not really a thing here. The overall theme is primitive camping with music.
The festival camp is amazing! Basically the half the public area of the island, which of course is all basically moorland, is up for grabs. And I’m sure no one would mind you camping on the other half either, as long as you avoid the gardens with the surprisingly well kept flowerbeds. It will not be cramped and you can even find you own little private hill if you’re willing to walk more than two minutes to the concert area. From almost everywhere in the camp you overlook the neighbour island, Sanna, and its spectacular mountains raging 300m straight up from the sea.
On the Saturday they arrange a walk through a tunnel going up the mountain. The tunnel is a simple service tunnel for a weather station at the top and it is pitch black only lit by torches. But when you’ve climbed through this pitch black tunnel, walking into quite a few people in the dark, you’re rewarded with a glass of bubbly at the top. We were just a bit overly excited by this. But it did help with the rest of the climb. Keep in mind though, there is not a lot of sleeping going on at this festival, so a walk/hike like this had me breathing pretty hard at times.
The highlight of the day, beside the spectacular view on the mountaintop, was also reason for us visiting this other island. Every year there is one concert held in Kirkehelleren, a massive cave looking out on a natural amphitheatre. People gather in the landscape in front of the cave where the music is slightly echoed by the concave opening. This makes for the most unique and spectacular mix of nature and music and was well worth the ticket alone.
Light at the end of the tunnel!
Made it to the top!
Concert in Kirkehelleren
Even if you spend four three days freezing your ass off, cold and wet in the rain, this is not what you will remember about Træna. You might remember more woollen clothes for next year, but you’ll be longing back for that little island expecting amazing scenery, people, and euphoric music experiences. And if you cannot afford a ticket, they always need volunteers. If you want to experience something Norwegian, this should be on your bucket list!
Festival well executed!