Sun picks wrong ‘eclipse’ day


Left out of the light, revelers resorted to a “(s)he’s naked under those clothes” attitude on what’s supposed to be one of Svalbard’s brightest days each year.

“The sun is up there somewhere,” said Henrik Rasmussen, one of the two emcees at Sunday’s ceremony intended to welcome the first of sunlight to shine on Longyearbyen in four months.

The sun briefly peeked over the mountains south of town at 12:50 p.m., but clouds cast a veil between it and the few hundred folks gathered at the old hospital steps at Skjæringa on the final day of the eight-day Solfestuka festival. The shady end to the festival means the sun has made two appearances in Icepeople’s seven-year history.


The Svalbard Irish Dance Ensemble approaches a crowd gathered on the ski hill across from Longyearbyen School for a variety of activities Saturday afternoon. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

“I wonder what those odds say for the total eclipse,” said Kim Holmén, international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. (For the record, the long-term forecast is for cloudy skies, although some say predictions more than five days out are basically a coin flip.)

The sun’s shyness didn’t keep other events during the weekend from shinning.
Another huge crowd gathered Saturday afternoon on the ski hill across from Longyearbyen School, participating in activities ranging from sledding to watching the Svalbard Irish Dance Ensemble. Another type of darkness-into-light transformation took place Friday and Saturday nights at Huset with the annual variety show satirizing the past year’s events.


Longyearbyen Mayor Christin Kristoffersen and her stage twin (we’ll let you figure out which is which) take a selfie during the conclusion of a variety show satirizing the past year’s events Saturday at Huset. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Longyearbyen Mayor Christin Kristoffersen was the topic of multiple skits/songs, including a riff on her unfailing (and desperate?) cheerful Pollyannaish projections that Longyearbyen’s future is sunny despite the devastating crisis at Store Norske.

The fiery issue of future mining was also fodder for old-school longtimer Anne Lise Sandvik and soon-to-be-son-in-law Espen Rotevatn, who also happens to be head of the local Green Party. But despite their constant fights, they could link arm-in-arm and agree Baby, There’s Coal Outside.”


Bonus content

We’re still setting up our streaming video thing, but in the meantime here’s direct download links to three HD clips from Solfestuka:


The guest of honor apparently had a giant gas problem and kept its distance from those hoping to welcome its presence.


But the tribute to the festival’s logo design winner and sun song by Polargospel were warm and bright.


And much light was cast on the locals and tourists during the annual show spoofing the past year’s events. Here a tourist learns why you don’t disturb polar bears (it’s in Norwegian, but hopefully you’ll get the drift).