© Bård Løken

Træna festival is 33 miles out to sea

All the cool bands, 2300 festival-goers, intense cave acoustics and the midnight sun dipping into the sea: the Træna Festival is the summer’s most refreshing festival!

The island community of Træna, 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the mainland, is host to one of Norway’s coolest summer festivals. It attracts quite a few international stars, all of Norway’s rock elite and up and coming Norwegian rock bands, all of whom want to experience a very special festival far out at sea with a very special atmosphere.

Træna itself is the host

The host of the Træna Festival is Træna itself, a group of islands far out in the Gulf Stream, 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the mainland. More than 400 of the 500 people on the islands live on Husøy, and around 70 live on Seløy. Two other islands are also inhabited, but a few settlements are now abandoned and only occupied by summer visitors. Træna’s other source of income is fishing for herring, greater argentine and cod. The oldest traces of settlement out here were found in the Kirkhelleren cave on the island of Sanna, and are 9000 years old.

You have to buy your tickets quickly

The reputation of the special festival atmosphere has reached the music elite. Among the artists to have appeared here are the French artist Manu Chao, Sweden’s Timbuktu, Ireland’s Damien Rice and Britain’s The Correspondents. The Norwegian A-Team, led by Sivert Høyem, Susanne Sundfør, Ingrid Olava, Ida Maria, Lars Vaular, Dum Dum Boys, Valkyrien Allstars, Kings of Convenience and many others also regularly perform. Such a tiny island has a limited capacity, so only 2300 festival passes are sold. This makes the Træna Festival a very exclusive experience.

Husøy is where the music happens

The festival site is on the main island of Husøy, and this is the location of a main stage for the big names of the evening, two side stages for new bands who play in the afternoon, and the ‘Seven Sisters’, a huge teepee tent for the smaller concerts. However, many of the most memorable concerts take place in Kirkhelleren, a gigantic cathedral-like cave on the neighbouring island of Sanna, with strong and unique acoustics. Finally, the more intimate, acoustic, introspective and spiritual artists perform in the small church on Træna, or in the tiny Peter Dass Chapel, which only has room for an audience of 30.

Restaurants and bars are aplenty

Accommodation is in tents, as Træna has extremely limited accommodation capacity. The food, on the other hand, is plentiful. A special restaurant tent serves three-course gourmet dinners on china plates, with wine in elegant glasses, and naturally, the food comes from the sea. Cod, coalfish, salmon, monkfish and prawns are always popular, while the more adventurous will try whale and seal. The illustrious coastal ships ‘Gamle Salten’ and ‘Gamle Helgeland’ are fitted out with atmospheric mahogany-clad restaurants and bars. And if that’s not enough, there are also several snack bars in tents serving fish burgers and other tasty bites.

You can take a boat to the festival

Since accommodation during the Træna Festival is limited, many people come in their own boats. Naturally, the most atmospheric of these are the numerous tall ships. The spa boat Vulkana and fishing smack Havdur from Bodø are regular visitors, and many other timber vessels have also been here more than once. Even the Christian Radich called in one year. The Træna Ocean Race is a sailing regatta that sets off from Sandnessjøen during the Træna Festival. With a fair wind, the winner can get here in three hours, but calm weather leads to dismal crossings of up to nine hours. Festival-goers can also take an ‘island cruise’ around the 500 islands and visit abandoned settlements in the archipelago.

Book early to not miss out

Træna is a tiny island community with limited capacity. However, the organisers of the Træna Festival put on extra ferries and express boats to and from Træna to accommodate the number of festival-goers. Once you have secured your festival pass, which is a highly limited commodity, you are encouraged to book your outward and return transport on the festival’s website. Or you can do what one festival lover in Bodø did when he realised he had left it too late to get a festival pass – he phoned the festival organisers, who told him the situation and added cheekily: “If you row from Bodø to Træna, we’ll give you a festival pass”. He took them at their word, rowed south, and got the pass! Everyone else should book their festival pass and transport in plenty of time.

Visit Helgeland

Contact Visit Helgeland for everything concerning Helgeland.