The World Championships in Reindeer Racing, the Sami Grand Prix, an impressive programme of concerts and gigantic weddings that cost many reindeer their lives. The Easter Festival in Kautokeino is the high point of the year for the Sami.
At Easter, the sun has returned and the daytime temperatures are really pleasant. Just before the start of the spring migration, it is the perfect time to hold weddings, christenings and confirmations – and to have a chat with friends and acquaintances. This is the origin of the Easter Festival. Sami weddings often involve a thousand guests, and wedding bidos, thick reindeer soup, is served at several sittings. The people of Kautokeino have now become used to setting aside the entire Easter week for a wonderful mixture of parties, fun, church services, cultural events and exciting competitions.
Reindeer racing is a big sport in the Sami community
The World Championships in Reindeer Racing is held in kautokeino. Races are run in two classes: on skis behind the reindeer and lying flat on one’s stomach on a sledge around a prepared course on the ice. The atmosphere is charged with excitement when the best reindeer from all over Sápmi, the Sámi homeland, line up, and the competition nerves can easily result in the reindeer bolting. Tourists can have a go in a special tourist class, which is run at a more sedate pace. And even if your reindeer was not the fastest, you could still win the prize for the best costume.
Want to try your hand at Lassoing?
The World Championships in Lassoing generate as much passion as the reindeer racing. The competition involves lassoing reindeer antlers placed at different distances from the competitors, and the trick is to keep your nerves in check in front of a large crowd.
The Sami Grand Prix is unique
The “Sami Eurovision” is a music competition with participants from all over Sápmi. Singers compete in two categories: joik and pop music. Joik is a living song tradition that is constantly developing, so the material is newly composed. The pop music category spans the entire range from joik-inspired compositions to hard rock. Just like at the Eurovision Song Contest, the audience decides the winner, so Sami radio transmits the competition directly and processes the votes cast from all parts of Sápmi.
Concerts are a big part of the festival
The concert programme throughout Easter weak is very varied and comprises Sami rock, jazz and joik-inspired music, as well as appearances by nationally famous Norwegian performers. Mari Boine, the most famous Sami artist, often makes an appearance and Beaivváš, the Sami theatre, usually presents a première or special event as well.
How to take part in the festival
Nowhere else in the world can you experience so much Sami culture in such a short period as during the Easter Festival. However, it does take some planning to get there. The best way to reach Kautokeino is in your own car, as the public transport options are limited. And accommodation absolutely must be arranged in advance. Worth the hassle? Most definitely! Check their website for all the details.