Enrich your life with books

TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD | PHOTOS © VESTFOLD FYLKESKOMMUNE, CAPPELENDAMM, TIDEN

With the aim of making literature increasingly accessible by bringing it to the reader’s hometown, the Vestfold Literature Festival uses all of Vestfold as its stage with events taking place across all municipalities every November. Established in 1997, the leading literary festival on the west side of the Oslo fjord is today seen as one of the top events in the Norwegian culture calendar.

What started in 1997 as a smaller festival has expanded rapidly throughout the years. After celebrating its 20th-anniversary last year, 2018 is set to become another successful one in Vestfold.

“Our opinion is that you are likely to have a richer life with books than without,” festival manager Steinar Engeland explains. By using the public libraries as an important arena, Engeland is determined to provide great writers to the people. “We want to bring the authors as close to home as we can, and therefore work closely with the public libraries in each of the municipalities in Vestfold to make this happen. The library is the home of the books, and we are proud to help to build up the audience’s interest for libraries across the county.”

A diverse programme for all ages

With this year’s programme having just been published, it is clear that the festival is yet again packed full of exciting events. With both famous authors and newcomers on the programme, and everything from performances, author meetings, theatre, quizzes, and concerts, you will find something here for all ages to enjoy.

“We want to cover the whole lifecycle, but our main focus is on schoolchildren in primary school and the adult audience who loves to read.” By combining people’s interest for reading and writing with exciting events and happenings throughout the week, Engeland hopes to cater for all age groups and tastes. Quality and variety are key factors, and there is a wide selection of ticketed and free events occurring.

The best of the best

During the first week of November, you will have the possibility to attend events both day and night throughout the whole of Vestfold, which is, in fact, Norway’s smallest county. “Our goal is to be important for those who live here, so our primary audience is from the Vestfold area,” says Engeland, while adding: “The authors who come to visit us are the best of what Norway has to offer, along with noteworthy as well as up-and-coming Nordic writers.” The festival starts with a big opening concert, where the audience can experience famous Norwegian artists and authors such as Herbjørg Kråkevik, Gunnar Staalesen, and Lars Lillo-Stenberg live on stage.

Every year during the festival, there are two literary prizes handed out: the Vestfold Literature Prize and the Ambjørnsen Prize. While the Vestfold Literature Prize is awarded to an author who personally or through their writings is affiliated with Vestfold County, the Ambjørnsen Prize is granted to a young person between the ages of 14 and 20. The winner is not only given a grant but also unique guidance and support from Ingvar Ambjørnsen himself. “It is a great initiative to help out promising teenagers with a love for literature and an extraordinary chance to receive direction from one of the best authors,” says Engeland.

Unmissable event

For anyone with a passion for literature, the Vestfold Literature Festival is a truly unmissable event. “We want to offer low threshold and high-quality, extraordinary experiences,” Engeland smiles. “This year, we can tempt you with three previous winners of the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize from three countries, and one of the nominees of this year.” It says a lot about the high level of quality the festival aims to provide.


Web: vfk.no/litteraturuka

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The Festival Manager recommends:


5 November, 7pm in Tønsberg library:

Opening concert with Herbjørg Kråkevik, Gunnar Staalesen, Lars Lillo-Stenberg, Kjell Westö and Roskva Koritzinsky

6 November, 7pm in Sandefjord library:

Literary champion meeting with Einar Mar Gudmundsson (Iceland) and Kjell Westö (Finland). Both are recipients of the Nordic Council Literature Prize.

6 November, 7pm in Larvik library:

Crime & Poetry with Ruth Lillegraven and Gert Nygårdshaug.

8 November, 10am in Tønsberg library:

Children’s book reading with Lars Joachim Grimstad.

9 November, 1pm in Larvik library:

Future on the Run. From the actor, author and slam poet Guro Sibeko.

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