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Table of Contents

The Weather

Temperatures

2019 High2019 Low2019 AverageNormal AverageDeviance
Oslo+8.3C (30 December)-7.9C (1 December)+0.4C-3.1C+3.5C
Bergen+14.2C (21 December)-2.2 (27 December)+5C+2.4C+2.6C
Tromsø+6.7C (29 December)-10.5C (11 December)-0.7C-2.7C+2C

Source: yr.no

Precipitation, Snow & Wind

Wettest DayTotal PrecipitationNormalDays with PrecipitationSnow DaysHighest Wind Gust
Oslo13 December (7mm)57mm55mm1512 (max depth 8cm)16.2 m/s
Bergen30 December (92mm)365.5mm235mm23021.2 m/s
Tromsø5 December (24.4mm)141mm105mm15Every day (max depth 53cm)24.2 m/s
Source: yr.no

Sunrise/Sunset

1 Dec Sunrise/Sunset1 Dec Day Length10 Dec Sunrise/Sunset10 Dec Day Length20 Dec Sunrise/Sunset20 Dec Day Length30 Dec Sunrise/Sunset
30 Dec Day Length
Oslo8:51am / 3:20pm6:28:029:07am / 3:12pm6:04:429:17am / 3:11pm5:54:019:19am / 3:20pm6:01:22
Bergen9:17am / 3:37pm6:19:519:33am / 3:29pm5:55:399:44am / 3:28pm5:44:3249:45am / 3:37pm5:52:14
TromsøDown all day
Civil twilight: 8:50am – 2:14pm
0Down all day
Civil twilight: 9:15am – 1:58pm
0Down all day
Civil twilight: 9:30am – 1:52pm
0Down all day
Civil twilight: 9:29am – 2:05pm
0
Note: Does not include twilight hours, which does make the days feel longer, especially for Northern Norway (i.e It’s not completely dark all day). Source/For Full Statistics: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/norway/oslo?month=1&year=2020

Note: The Winter Solstice is 21 December 2020

Note: From 27 November the sun doesn’t rise in Tromsø, but there is still a twilight sky. I’ve included numbers for the brightest of the twilights, civil twilight, but it is a little brighter for longer.

Weather Overview

While December is a cold month, snow fall is becoming less and less common. When my husband was growing up in Bergen in the 1990s, he’d always play in snow on Christmas Day. I’ve been living here for five years and I’m yet to have a white Christmas.

The Northern Lights are visible.  

While the month is dark and cold, this is the best winter month to experience the lively atmosphere that arises in such an unfriendly climate.

In the south, the sun is up for about 5 hours. In the north, it’s 24 hour darkness, though the ‘polar light’, as it’s experienced up there, is something to see.

Don’t expect the freezing temperatures of Siberia or Alaska. The Gulf Stream keeps Norway’s climate mild considering it’s northern latitutde. Temperatures on the coast feel less bitter than central and Northern Norway, though you will get snow in the mountains.

Tourism

December is a quiet month, though the popular Arctic cities like Tromsø are seeing an increase in tourism for winter activities, including the Northern Lights. Be wary of renting a car; most tourist/mountain roads are closed by now and the winter conditions can make driving very tricky. Stick to public transport.

Winter is a great time of year for unique activities. You can snorkel, kayak, or even surf in the water. On land, there’s skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer safaris and Sami culture.

Whatever you plan, always remember there isn’t a lot of light at this time of year.

If you travel over Christmas, keep in mind that many shops and tourism businesses will close for that period.

Christmas

I will do a longer article on Christmas soon!

December is all about Christmas in Norway, and the city is decorated with lights to brighten up the otherwise dark and gloomy month.

In December we also have our Christmas Market.  It typically opens around the end of November and lasts until 22 December. Products include locally made food, clothes, beauty products and art. There are also attractions for kids, including a Ferris Wheel and a horse carousel.

There are other Christmas Markets in Oslo, Maihaugen (the open air museum at Lillehammer), Røros, Trondheim, Haugesund, Henningsvaer, and Egersund.

Bergen is also home to the world’s largest Gingerbread Town. Called Pepperkakebyen in Norwegian, it has been in operation since 1991. Kindergartens, school children, local businesses and thousands of other volunteers have participated in the construction of Pepperkakebyen in Bergen. Even Americans with Norwegian roots in Duluth, Minnesota, have started their own gingerbread city tradition inspired by Bergen. Pepperkakebyen is open to the public from mid-November throughout December. The profit is donated to a relief agency that works primarily with children in need.

New Years Eve

Being in Norway on News Years Eve is a lot of fun. In Norway, it’s legal to set off your own fireworks. Rent a place with a view above a city, sit back, and watch the chaos. It’s even better if you’re in a suburb. The big cities also have their own fireworks shows.

Events

  • Røros Christmas Market. For one weekend a year, the postcard-village of Røros hosts its Christmas market—a popular event drawing crowds from across Norway. Shops sell everything from hard-carved toys to reindeer skins and wool hats, as well as local food and drink.
  • Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. This major invite-only event in Oslo takes place in December each year and captures world attention. 
  • St. Lucia Day. This holiday parade and festival of lights celebration takes place in mid-December all over Norway.
  • Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day. All three days are celebrated across Norway. Expect festivities, holiday markets, and caroling leading up to the holidays, as well as business closures.