1. Home
  2. / Social Life & Culture
  3. / I want to explore Oslo and the region

I want to explore Oslo and the region

How to get the best out of the Norwegian capital, you ask? We’ve got you! Read on for the most essential information you need to know in order to have a good time – from networking opportunities to cultural codes, music festivals, green living, getting around, and where to eat and drink.

  1. 01 Friends & networking in Oslo
  2. 02 Norwegian culture & public holidays
  3. 03 Arts & entertainment
  4. 04 Outdoor activities
  5. 05 Oslo for foodies (& other hungry people)
  1. Home
  2. / Social Life & Culture
  3. / I want to explore Oslo and the region

02 Norwegian culture & public holidays

Norwegians are a mix of people made up of all sorts of cultures and customs. Immerse yourself in Norwegian culture and experience vibrant public holidays, from the cherished traditions of "dugnad" and "matpakke" to the exuberant celebrations of Constitution Day and the Pride festival. Discover what makes Norway unique.

A man and a woman in bunads on 17 of May Norways national day Fredrik Ahlsen Maverix Media AS

Celebrating 17 of May Norways national day in bunads.

Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen/Maverix Media AS

There are a few things however that could be called “typical Norwegian”.

As a foreigner in Oslo, you might find yourself questioning for instance what a “dugnad” or “matpakke” is – two crucial components in the life of a Norwegian.

Dugnad in Norway

Dugnad is a widespread concept that can be explained as a joint effort in your spare time, such as fixing the communal garden together or cleaning up the local football field. You will often be invited to a “dugnad” in the building you live in or through school.

Matpakke - slice of bread?

A “matpakke” is a packed lunch, usually involving slices of bread with cheese or jam and perhaps a fruit, and is common amongst children and adults. To go hiking or skiing with a “matpakke” with bread and cheese, an orange, and a “Kvikk Lunsj” chocolate is probably the most cliche and quintessential Norwegian thing imaginable.


Nature is the holy grail in Norwegian culture, being both a beloved topic of conversation as well as a refuge from the busy life in the city. Some Norwegians own their own cabins in the mountains or by the sea, and others rent or borrow throughout the year. In winter, it is common for many Norwegians to leave the city and stay in their cabins during the weekends.

Friday at 14.00 - where is everyone?

Do not be surprised if you find your colleagues rushing off Friday midday in order to beat the traffic and reach their “hytte” in time for “Gullrekka” – a common name for a series of Friday entertainment programs on the Norwegian broadcasting channel, NRK. Happy weekend!

Celebrating the constitutional day Norways national day Fredrik Ahlsen Maverix Media AS

They are celebrating the Norwegian Constitution Day, 17th of May and dressed up with "bunad".

Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen/Maverix Media AS

17 Mai!

Norwegians enjoy quite a few public holidays, such as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in addition to Easter, Labour Day, and Ascension Day. Most important of all is the Norwegian Constitution Day on the 17th of May (amongst the population just called “17.mai”). You can read more about it here.

On “17.mai”, there are children’s parades all over the city, and many people carry Norwegian flags in the streets, often dressed in the traditional clothing called “bunad”.

Other festivals and holidays

The Pride festival has also become an important celebration in recent years, gathering several thousands of Norwegians across the country. During the celebrations, make sure to check out Pride Park in Oslo, a festival arena in the heart of the city.

For a full overview of the public holidays for schools in Oslo, have a look at City of Oslo (Oslo kommune).