Step Back in Time at Røros

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In 1853, the King of Norway issued a royal decree stating that “From 1854 onwards a yearly market shall be held in Røros, Norway, commencing the second to the last Tuesday in the month of February, and lasting until the following Friday”.

This year, the Winter Fair in Røros (No 163)  has been extended until Saturday and will be open from 16 February through 20 February.

Photo: Eldnes Bussreiser
Photo: Eldnes Bussreiser

Norway consists of much more than its famous fjords and mountainous scenery. Further east you can experience the beautiful town of Røros, rich in fascinating history.

Røros is a little town with long-established traditions with its own unique and fascinating charm, which we encourage you to experience for yourself.

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Founded in 1646 as a timber town, Roros later developed into a mining and farming community – and in 1980 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can access this area by plane, train or by car

Today, more than 160 years later, the winter fair, Rørosmartnan, is a national event, with approximately 75 000 visitors each year. During these five days Røros is transformed into a lively marketplace with a booming street life. Whether it’s night or day, you’ll feel the energy at restaurants and bars, in dance halls, raffles and bazaars, the different accommodations and at cultural events.

Photo: Fjordanes reisebyrå
Photo: Fjordanes reisebyrå

Walking around these well preserved wooden buildings makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Close by are the old copper mines (another UNESCO listed site) which were once vital to the town’s prosperity.

Dancing at Rørosmartnan
Dancing at Rørosmartnan

Back in time, merchants from across Norway and Sweden did not need to be asked twice. They harnessed their sleighs and set through the wilderness, crossing ice-bound lakes and gliding along frozen rivers in order to trade in Røros.  Products that were unique to their regions were brought to be bartered and traded with people from other settlements, regions and countries.

Musicians at Rørosmartnan
Musicians at Rørosmartnan

Today most of the fair takes place in the two main streets of Røros, where around 250 exhibitors have stalls outside and also at the indoor trade fair.

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You cannot avoid seeing the dominant church in Røros, as it stands above the colorful timber buildings. It was built during the copper works’ golden age and completed in 1784.  Get inside and have a look at the fascinating interior and paintings.

The locals are very proud of keeping the tradition og coachmen transporting feed and goods across the mountains to Røros alive.  As part of the opening ceremony more than eighty horse-drawn sleighs from Sweden, Gudbrandsdalen, Østerdalen, Hedmark, Gauldalen, Selbu and Tydal participate, marking the arrival in Røros after travelling for almost two weeks in the old-fashioned manner.
During these days, the quiet streets of this atmospheric old town are transformed into a bustling market with colorful stalls selling delicious food and drink, artisan handicrafts, clothing and jewelry from the Nordic countries – and even olives from Italy!

Røros market stalls
Røros market stalls

However, many people say that it is in the backyards of the town center you will find the soul of Rørosmartnan. This is where people originally gathered to trade, play music, dance, tell stories, laugh and talk, and it was there cultural exchange between the tradesmen and other visitors took place. With many dressed in traditional costume, it’s like stepping back in time as the townspeople and their neighbors congregate in the narrow streets and courtyards.

Swedish national costumes at Rørosmartnan
Swedish national costumes at Rørosmartnan

During the fair, houses and backyards swarm with activities day and night. Here you’ll still find authentic old-fashioned trade, horses in the stables, coffee brewed over an open fire, traditional delicacies and storytelling – all accompanied by fiddlers and other musicians. It’s a joy to listen to, and everyone stopping by receives a hearty welcome!

Photo: Askeladden Travel
Photo: Askeladden Travel

Visitors are encouraged to try the tasty local food on offer; to see how traditional crafts were carried out and artefacts made; to enjoy concerts of ethnic Sami music; or even go for a sleigh-ride into the winter wonderland that surrounds the town.

Step back in time.

Getting there
We recommend visiting Roros by train from Oslo, which takes around five hours. It’s a scenic rail journey, passing through some beautiful landscape – highlands and lowlands, towns and villages.

You might also like to read:

Christmas in Norway

Step Back in Time at Røros, written by Tor Kjolberg