Tag Archives: Solfestuka

WOMEN’S TIME TO SHINE: Sun returns to main part of Longyearbyen after nearly four months, thanks to persistence of ladies with lyrics, to highlight annual Solfestuka week


Photo by Eva Grøndal

Every year on this date there’s “sun” ritual unique to Longyearbyen, even if it features chants, songs and other traditions seen in cultures for thousands of years. But on this particular year it’s the word “ritual” needing quotes around it, because it seems all those words of adoration and coaxing were necessary for an impact that was supernatural instead of just ceremonial.

The Polargospel children’s choir sang their tradition songs, emcee Vigdis Jensen performed the annually familiar “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles and just before 12:50 p.m. Tuesday the crowd of many hundreds began the usual chant that (translated in part into English) begins “Sun! Sun! Come Again!”

But after nearly four months without sunlight in the main part of Longyearbyen, still a ray was not to be seen on the cloudy southern horizon.

NO MASKING THIS SUNNY SPIRIT: First rays of sun return to Longyearbyen in four months as hundreds gather for Solfestuka celebration w/ only tiny COVID-19 cloud to put folks in a ‘zone’


On a day so “mild” – a mere minus 12C with little wind – face masks weren’t necessary for Mother Nature’s non-viral presence (or required by human authorities), hundreds of locals and visitors gathered for a remarkably bright and normal celebration at midday Monday welcoming the first return of sunlight in four months upon the world’s northernmost town.

SUN RA-RA: Solfestuka returns during one-year anniversary of pandemic with a (mostly) full traditional schedule – plus the vorspiel show from the recently cancelled Polarjazz festival


It’s sunny news this year’s Solfestuka festival will retain most of the traditional elements of Longyearbyen’s most-famous annual celebration, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there’s one big cloud on the horizon for the festival scheduled to start March 6 in that the annual revue showcasing local events of the past year in satire and song won’t be staged. However, perhaps offering some extra light is the lineup for the weeklong festival is extra eclectic, including the political separatists behind those neon “Make The North Great Again” signs getting local kids to sing their slogans, a swashbuckling and silly sledding contest, a polar dip/Arctic sauna, and resurrecting “the best night”of the cancelled Polarjazz festival.

SOLFESTUKA CANCELLED, AIRPORT CHECKS HEIGHTENED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: City urges other events organizers to evaluate plans; stricter flight rules means all passengers will be questioned


Update 6:45 p.m.: The Norwegian Polar Institute has also announced it is cancelling much of its travel and meetings.

Original story: The remainder of the events for this year’s Solfestuka festival have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns and organizers of other events are being urged to evaluate their plans, Longyearbyen’s city government announced Wednesday. In addition, Svalbard Airport announced heightened scrutiny of all passengers following stricter guidelines imposed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

(This is a breaking story in progress. More details being added now and as they become available.)

LONG YEAR = SHORT CELEBRATION: Whiteout blizzard means quick – but glowing – return-of-the-sun ceremony on leap year

(Editor’s note: This was the worst weather I’ve experienced in my 12 years covering Solfestuka’s main event and, since there was no way in hell I was going to interview folks while somehow taking the photos that are obviously What Really Matters, here’s a rare first-person diatribe on what certainly was an illuminating occasion.)

I opened the door to my flat at about noon, and instantly was literally knocked astride by a white wall of blowing snow that made it impossible to see my car two meters away – let alone my intended destination on a small hill perhaps 500 meters away.

SOMETHING’S FUNNY ABOUT THIS YEAR’S SOLFESTUKA: Coal copulation, screwy sleds and cheering the sun’s return on the wrong day on the horizon during week-long celebration


Let’s start with the main event – the brightest moment during the most popular event in Longyearbyen: it’s on the wrong day this year. Everybody’s going to show up to cheer the return of the sun 24 hours (or maybe 48) after it actually happens.

So nice it happened twice: Sun makes one of its most spectacular Solfestuka celebration appearances ever – one day after its first actual appearance


Great. Now even the sun is fake news.

Not that any of the hundreds of people cared as the sun made a glorious appearance over the southern mountains under a cloudless sky at about 12:50 p.m. Friday during the annual return-of-the-sun festival Friday on the old hospital steps near Svalbard Church.

Old king coal: The traditional ways are riper than ever for satire and sorrow during the 25th staging of Svalbard’s year in revue


Let’s start with the show’s title since it’s about the only thing we’re allowed to reveal in advance: it can’t be properly translated into English.

Officially the title is “25 År Og Kull Verdt” (which, taking extensive liberties, roughly means “25 Years And Worth Its Weight in Coal”), based on a long-running gag equating coal with gold in Svalbard, a concept that is now truly – if tragically to the performers – ripe for a mother lode of satirical stagecraft.

DAWN OR DECEPTION? Longyearbyen’s first sunrise of the year after nearly four months? Well, kinda…it’s complicated


The nearly four-month-long polar night is over as the sun made a dazzling return with its rays to Longyearbyen on Saturday. Except in all but the technical sense it actually didn’t and won’t for a few more weeks.

Confused? No biggie – it happens all the time, with even the sun forgetting its norms and doing things like setting twice a day in these parts.

Audio ambassadors: Prolific local youth teams with visiting duo for stellar sonic soundscape inspired by Svalbard


Vilde Markussen, 18, has shared the sounds of Svalbard plenty of times with audiences to the south. This time she got to experience new notes with a visiting duo whose concert was influenced by experiences here and on the way.