STRIPPING VOTING RIGHTS FROM FOREIGNERS? Longyearbyen residents must reside on mainland for at least three years to vote and run for local office under Justice Ministry proposal

STRIPPING VOTING RIGHTS FROM FOREIGNERS? Longyearbyen residents must reside on mainland for at least three years to vote and run for local office under Justice Ministry proposal

Foreign residents in Longyearbyen will lose their right to vote and run for office in local elections if a proposal by Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness published Wednesday is enacted. More »

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

Photo by Elizabeth Bourne Visiting cruise ship passengers are still absent from the harbor area of Longyearbyen this summer, but a different group of visitors Tuesday evening got almost certainly a more More »

STREAMING SONGS FOR SOLSTICE: ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ concert by a dozen performers, many working as guides in Svalbard, makes summer debut Sunday live on Facebook

STREAMING SONGS FOR SOLSTICE: ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ concert by a dozen performers, many working as guides in Svalbard, makes summer debut Sunday live on Facebook

Screenshot of Marty Garwood, a performer at the “Under The Midnight Sun” concert, from video by Antarctic Ambassadors Unlike many recent past summers there’s no organized weekend beach party to celebrate the More »

A BLESSED SUNDAY FOR TRAVELERS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASED: No virus test for vaccinated people going to Svalbard; coastal cruises and charter flights allowed

A BLESSED SUNDAY FOR TRAVELERS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASED: No virus test for vaccinated people going to Svalbard; coastal cruises and charter flights allowed

Sunday will be a blessed day for those traveling to Svalbard as several COVID-19 restrictions, including a mandatory negative test for the virus within 24 hours of departure, will be eased that More »

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by Visit Svalbard A total of 27 companies are receiving a total of about 40 million kroner that will ensure employment of about 300 people from the most recent emergency aid More »

 

STRIPPING VOTING RIGHTS FROM FOREIGNERS? Longyearbyen residents must reside on mainland for at least three years to vote and run for local office under Justice Ministry proposal

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Foreign residents in Longyearbyen will lose their right to vote and run for office in local elections if a proposal by Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness published Wednesday is enacted.

Numerous residents and Longyearbyen’s mayor immediately expressed dismay at what the latter called an unexpected proposal released without notifying local officials in advance.

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

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Photo by Elizabeth Bourne

Visiting cruise ship passengers are still absent from the harbor area of Longyearbyen this summer, but a different group of visitors Tuesday evening got almost certainly a more cherished welcome from locals as eight walruses made a rare disembarkation onto the shore at the edge of town.

But, as happens with cruise ship passengers, it turns out officials needed to issue a warning about proper interaction between humans and the environment as some of the former got too close to the latter.

STREAMING SONGS FOR SOLSTICE: ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ concert by a dozen performers, many working as guides in Svalbard, makes summer debut Sunday live on Facebook

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Screenshot of Marty Garwood, a performer at the “Under The Midnight Sun” concert, from video by Antarctic Ambassadors

Unlike many recent past summers there’s no organized weekend beach party to celebrate the summer solstice, or the usual swarm of cruise ship passengers and crew wandering around town. But a celebration by a group of guides, photographers and others who often spend their summers working in Svalbard is scheduled in the form of an “Under The Midnight Sun” concert from 7-9 p.m. Sunday that will be streamed live on Facebook.

A BLESSED SUNDAY FOR TRAVELERS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASED: No virus test for vaccinated people going to Svalbard; coastal cruises and charter flights allowed

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Sunday will be a blessed day for those traveling to Svalbard as several COVID-19 restrictions, including a mandatory negative test for the virus within 24 hours of departure, will be eased that day, Norway’s government announced Friday. People who can show proof they are fully vaccinated will be exempt from the test.

In addition, coastal cruises will be allowed “on certain conditions” – including up to 2,000 people on large ships if all are vaccinated – and charter flights from the mainland will be able to land in Svalbard.

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo by Visit Svalbard

A total of 27 companies are receiving a total of about 40 million kroner that will ensure employment of about 300 people from the most recent emergency aid package intended to help tourism companies in Svalbard affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Longyearbyen’s Community Council, which evaluated applications and approved the allocations.

LAST SNOWSTORM BEFORE SUMMER? Of course it might snow then as well (although it’s increasingly rare), but no more is forecast in Longyearbyen during the last week of spring

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Freakish early- and mid-June heat waves are being felt across the globe – including 50°C (122°F) in the Middle East and record temperatures near that the southwest United States – but locals in Longyearbyen found themselves brushing snow off their windshields Monday during what might be the last snowstorm before summer.

JOYLESS JOYRIDE: ATV stolen from Polar X near beach Sunday morning turns up at Svalbardbutikken; police seeking tips

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Legally speaking, a rare vehicle theft in Longyearbyen when a multi-passenger ATV was reported missing early Sunday morning from Polar X at Sjøområdet. But the reason such thefts are rare is because it’s hard to actually steal and possess a vehicle since there’s no roads out of town to flee on, so police are seeking tips about the culprit after the ATV showed up a while later in the Svalbardbutikken parking lot.

POPULAR POLAR PIONEERS PURGE POSSESSIONS: Two women globally famous for their two ‘Hearts In The Ice’ winterovers share historic and intimate gear w/ locals at rummage sale

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After gaining worldwide fame and hundreds of thousands of followers by being the first women to winterover in a remote cabin in Svalbard – twice, in fact – it seems like and Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm could cash in big-time by selling their pioneering possessions on eBay after returning to civilization a week ago.

But instead locals in Longyearbyen got to explore a bunch of bargains on polar-worthy gear – along with some titivating freebies such as sports bras – as the “Hearts In The Ice” women hosted a rummage sale Monday at, somewhat ironically, a conference room at the luxury Funken hotel.

DARKNESS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: This is how the “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse looked at 78° north in Longyearbyen, blocking an extra-high 71% of the sun now up 24 hours a day

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Photos by Sophie Condon

To the naked eye, especially for those unaware, the mostly clear skies in Longyearbyen at midday Thursday looked pretty much the same as they do 24 hours a day during the three-and-a-half-month long polar summer.

But those with the right filters got to see most of the sun blotted out (about 71 percent) in the world’s northernmost town at 78 degrees latitude north during four-hour “Ring of Fire” annular eclipse.

EXTRA-BIG STORE MEANS EXTRA EFFORT: Svalbardbutikken customers getting longer end-to-end trek and self-serve checkouts; workers finishing expansion and ATM/cash plans

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Some shoppers might find themselves wanting some whine with that cheese, since buying some fine vino to go with that funky-smelling taleggio now requires a traveller-worthy trek – or more precisely an end-to-end trip at the vastly expanded Svalbardbutikken that debuted at its full size Monday.

And before too long those weary wine consumers will get the chance to expend even more effort (but, hey, even more calories burned), doing a short work shift as their own checkout clerk.