About the Festivals

Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival and Lofoten Piano Festival aims to bring a varied program of classical music – performed by international artists at a high level – to the whole of Lofoten. The festivals are held every other year. In addition, a number of smaller classical concerts are arranged throughout the year in Lofoten.

Read the program history of the festivals here.

Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival

Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival saw its light in 2004 as Norway’s northernmost chamber music festival. The festival has established itself as an institution in northern Norway with its annual events. With its high artistic level, the festival has also made a name for itself internationally.

With the initiators Knut Kirkesæther and Arvid Engegård at the helm, the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival was held for the first time in 2004. In 2005, the festival was organized as a foundation with Knut Kirkesæther, Arvid Engegård and Vågan Municipality as founders. The festival is still run with Knut Kirkesæther as general manager and Arvid Engegård as artistic director.

In 2019, the festival celebrated its first 15 years. Her Majesty Queen Sonja was in charge of the official opening of the anniversary. The Queen has previously visited the festival several times.

International Level in Lofoten

The program for both the chamber music festival and the piano festival is tailored with both breadth and variety – of the best quality. The festival’s artistic director invites approx. 15-20 international artists, quartets, ensembles and orchestras. These are the starting point for the festival’s approx. 15-20 concerts.

Apart from the opening concert and the final concert – which are set up as larger gala concerts – two full concerts are normally held every night. In addition, there are several morning concerts as well as smaller events during the festival.

Lofoten Piano Festival

In 2004, there was not a single concert grand piano to be found in Lofoten. As a consequence of the festival, there are currently as many as 10 concert grand pianos of the Steinway & Sons type available in Lofoten. This formed the basis for starting the Lofoten Piano Festival in 2014. By the way, this was Norway’s first piano festival.

Read about Lofoten’s concert grand pianos here.

Lofoten Piano Festival in a short time received great recognition, also internationally. Just before the opening in 2018, the magazine Pianist ranked the festival as the third bestin Europe, over several prestigious festivals.

The format of the festivals is quite similar. The biggest difference from the chamber music festival is of course the focus on the piano in the program. At most, concerts have been performed for up to four concert grand pianos at the same time. The piano festival also has no permanent artistic director, but rolls this role every time. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Bertrand Chamayou and Christian Ihle Hadland have previously had this responsibility. In 2022, Denés Varjon will be the artistic director of the festival.

Lofoten Piano Festival holds its own Steinway Prize Winner Concert in collaboration with Steinway & Sons. Read more about the collaboration here.

Read more about Steinway & Sons here.

Experience Lofoten with Classical Music

Unlike many other international music festivals, Lofoten does not have large concert halls where everything can take place. In addition to Lofoten Concert Hall (Svolvær) and Meieriet Art Center (Leknes), several of Lofoten’s many churches are therefore used. In addition, several concerts have been arranged outdoors, including a major concert in Trollfjorden 2015.

In addition to the classical music, the festivals are also an opportunity to experience Lofoten. More and more people are commenting that the journey between the concerts is in itself an important part of the festival. This has also meant that more travelers come from far and wide to the festivals. More and more foreign travel agents are arranging music trips to Lofoten to combine first-class concerts with the fantastic surroundings.

Several international newspapers and magazines have taken an interest in the combination. The New York Times, Financial Times and El Pais have all written about the festival.

Read more about Lofoten as a destination by visiting Destination Lofoten and VisitNorway.

The audience is recommended to have their own transport during the festival as the concerts are arranged with great distances.

Today, there are several travel suppliers who regularly offer package tours to the festival. Read more here: