June 18-25 is the annual music festival in Harstad, held during the week of Midsummer Eve (June 21). We went to Harstad for the opening ceremony, which made a rainy day a lot of fun. We heard from Norway’s Minister of Culture, Linda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland, then the crowd was conducted to a nearby plaza accompanied by a humming choir and musicians playing along the route.

In the plaza, music played, people flipped colored cards, an overhead camera recorded the patterns and balloons sailed away while everyone danced.

The women’s drum line marched from the central square to the nearest wharf where they played before another group who spoke from a floating dock. It was fun to watch even if I couldn’t understand the remarks.

We did a bit of shopping, including postcards from the tourist office and mementos for our hats–possibly relevant for later in the summer. A group of women presented locally designed clothing, jewelry, art glass, painting and hand made crafts. These were all very creative and out of the ordinary. I wish I needed—anything! We had coffee and pastry at a pop-up bakery cafe. By then we’d seen the sights and the festival was underway. The many performances: theater, music, dance, discussions, workshops and a program for families are spread across the coming days from 10 am to midnight. It is a well-known event in the region, that is, a cruise ship stopped in Harstad today, we could recognize the passengers by their transparent raincoats. Paula and I can be recognized by our newly acquired mementos pinned to our hats:

6.20.16 Tjeldodden campfire-001smFind out more about the North Norway Music Festival at: http://www.festspillnn.no

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