New Year’s Eve in Norway was a blast… almost literally!
In the early evening, Jesse and I took a bust to Tromsøya to meet some friends. On our ride and while we were waiting for various buses, we were treated to frequent and spontaneous fireworks being sent off around all of Tromsø. At Giæverbukta, one of the major transfer stations, we saw one of the seasonal fireworks shops, which was quite busy. There are restrictions on fireworks during the year, where you must have a permit to purchase and use them, however during a short time at the end of the year (Dec 27th to 31st) anyone over the age of 18 can purchase fireworks and set them off on New Year’s eve. What is most surprising about this is that these fireworks can and are set off in very densely populated and residential areas – more on that later.
Today Jesse and I had the pleasure of joining Sören & Pia, Pia’s sister and her boyfriend for a lovely homemade dinner at their home near the Southern tip of Tromsøya. After some delicious food and good company we all took a bus to Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral) which is just across the Tromsøbrua (Tromsø bridge) from the Tromsø city center. I have been looking forward to this New Year’s eve concert since August, when I bought our tickets (I was a little worried they would sell out, but the others in our group bought their tickets the day of… so I guess I was a little over-prepared).
Jesse briefly went into the Ishavskatedralen earlier in the year when his parents were visiting, but they did not pay the 40 NOK each to explore the whole inside. So neither of us had actually been in before, and we were both excited to explore a little. We were not allowed to take photos during the concert, but before the festivities started I went around and took some, you can even go upstairs to see the organ and a nice view of the cathedral.
The concert was a beautiful mix of Christmas songs from the Scandinavian countries, (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), traditional Sami songs, as well as other Christmas carols in German, French and English. There was flutist, piano/organist and a soprano vocalist. It has been a long time since I’ve been to such a concert and I’ll be the first to admit that the beautiful music and setting brought tears to my eyes. From inside the cathedral we could also see fireworks being shot off behind it in the Tromsdalen area of Tromsø.
After the concert we went back outside and watched more fireworks being shot off all along the Tromsøya island. We took a taxi back to the house and just before midnight we hiked up to a spot with a view. From here we could see out to the water, across to the mainland, and the cable car. We could not see the Tromsø bridge, where we later learned that the official city’s fireworks show was shot off from. I have been told that most years the official fireworks are from the top of Fjellheisen (the ridge where the cable car goes up to), but this year the cable car is under construction.
There were fireworks everywhere! Right next to us, maybe 4 meters away, was a group of older gentlemen in tuxes and others dressed to the nines setting off fireworks directly under a power line. The spot had quite a few houses nearby and park just below us, not to mention all the spectators like us that were there just to watch. Most of the fireworks were fine, but at one point a large set of rockets got out of control and started shooting very horizontally. It got to a point where most of the crowd started walking very quickly away from the area (including all of us), when I looked back I saw one spectator was definitely hit in the back. Thankfully he was wearing a backpack, but the whole situation was really sketchy. Once they ran out of ammunition, a family down in the park below us started setting off theirs. The dad would run out and light them up with the young kids only meters away. Thankfully we did not see anyone seriously hurt on New Year’s eve, but I would not be surprised if the ER was busy!
Even though we couldn’t see the official show, there were tons of fireworks in every direction we looked! Across the water on the mainland, we saw a lot of torches lit up spelling out 2016 just under Fjellheisen. A champagne toast with friends and all the fireworks was simply beautiful!
Here’s to a happy and successful 2016! Wishing you all the best 🙂