Autumn in Norway

Autumn in Northern Norway is a time of colour. Shorter days are filled with autumn colours and golden light from an increasingly lower sun. In the evening, Aurora invites to a light-footed dance across the nightsky.

Already in the second half of August, autumn is in the air in Northern Norway. The air is clearer, night creeps in, the reindeer have already got their thick winter fur. And day by day, week by week, nature gets ready for the upcoming winter.

Autumn colours wander from north to south

In Mid August, the blueberry heather in the far north-east takes on a bright red colour, and the dwarf birch turns into a vivid yellow-orange. In the lowlands, the aspen is the first tree to turn a lemony yellow, sometimes in late August. By early September, the birch is ablaze in the far north and moving slowly southwards. The rowan can be anything from bright yellow through deep orange and shining red to a surprising purple. For a week or two, it’s all fantastically colourful. Then a storm comes in and destroys the beauty.

Hiking is particularly beautiful in August and September

By mid August, the insects are gone, the water in the streams and lakes are clear and transparent and you can pick tasty blueberries on your way. This is the favourite time of Northern Norwegians to go hiking. The snow has melted from the highest peaks, so it’s all open everywhere. The autumn colours of September are a downright invitation to climb even the highest mountains, and this is also a good time to do glacier hiking. The glaciers are at their bluest now that the snow of this year is gone.

October hiking has a melancholy beauty

In October, the peaks tend to get a solid icing of snow. One morning, we wake up with a thin layer of snow, already melting as we leave for work. The trees as all black and leafless, and dead straws wave in the autumn breeze. Since days are short, we cannot climb the highest mountains, but short hikes have air of melancholy. Mountains and forests take on a stark beauty, denuded of their summery liveliness and turned golden by the low sun.

Dark autumn evenings are food for thought

Whereas the summer is a time of the exception, autumn is the return to daily life in Northern Norway. This means that our theatres and our symphonic orchestra resume their ambitious programs, and invite the audience to cultural experience as the nights turn darker. The North Cape Film Festival, the Insomnia Festival of electronica music in Tromsø, and the Music and Opera festival in Mosjøen all provide food for thought; Dark evenings invite to intellectual challenges and good conversations. The Oktoberfest in Svalbard is all about having fun as the archipelago enters the Polar Night.

Autumn is harvest time

In Autumn, the sheep are driven down from the mountains. Reindeer migrate back to the inland from the coast. All are fat and healthyafter a summer of green pastures, but little do they know about the future. This is a time for the Norwegian favourite of fårikål, mutton stew, for succulent legs of lamb and all the various Sami ways of cooking reindeer. In late August, the golden cloudberries dot marshes and wetlands across Northern Norway. In September, the stark red lingonberries with their tart, complex taste are collected in dry moorland.

Food festivals celebrate local food

The harvest is celebrated by numerous food festivals. The Vuonnamárkanat Sami food market in Nesseby is a deep-dive into Sami specialities. The Tiendebytte (“exchange of news”) festival in Mosjøen is an age-old meeting between people of the coast and inland dwellers. The Vesterålen festival is simply a lot of heaty dinner parties across the archipelago. The Smak Festival in Tromsø fills up the main street with food stalls from all over the north, allowing the Tromsøites a varied, long-lasting and walking lunch. These food festivals are an excellent chance for locals and visitors alike to taste traditional delicacies that are usually not that easy to find.

Autumn is the mild Northern Lights season

Northern Lights in the autumn means less freezing

Most Northern Lights chasers come in the winter. However, we do see the first Northern Lights in late August, and by Autumn equinox, around the 20th of September, we have maximum chances of spotting the lights. Sometimes, one can be outdoor in a t-shirt and watch the lights, when mild south-eastern winds bring in the last of the summer heat from Russia. Mostly, you need warm clothing, though, but it is a lot more comfortable than you can expect in January.

All about autumn