Musical group Kiriyama Family performs in Bergen, Norway at Bergenfest on the Magic Mirrors stage.

Bergenfest spotlights eclectic acts in a historic space

By Billy Ray Malone

Nick Cave performs at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway on the main stage. Cave was the main act on Wednseday, June 13, 2018. Photo by Jessie Shiflett
Nick Cave performs at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway on the main stage. Cave was the main act on Wednseday, June 13, 2018. Photo by Jessie Shiflett

Bergenfest started in 1993 and has come a long way.

What began as an Americana music festival has grown into a diverse musical profile with a growing audience every year. The festival sold out of five-day passes this year, so only one-day tickets were available.

Genres at the festival today include country, metal, soft-rock, hip-hop, EDM (Electric Dance Music) and more. The festival prides itself in having music for everyone, says Ole Morten Algeroy, the festival music promoter.

Algeroy has worked with the festival since the event first took place 25 years ago. He worked his way up from volunteer to promoting the festival and finding bands to play at Bergenfest.

He said his favorite part of working at Bergenfest is watching local Bergen musicians elevate their careers by playing at the festival.

The venue for Bergenfest has also changed over the years. Performances were held at various sites around the city center of Bergen until roughly seven years ago when the festival moved to Bergenhus Fortress.

The fortress has stood the test of time for almost 800 years, and originally served as the first line of defense against foreign invaders. Part of the agreement for using this location is that the festival must treat the monument gently.

Angus Stone performs with pop band Angus & Julia Stone on the main stage at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Jessie Shiflett
Angus Stone performs with pop band Angus & Julia Stone on the main stage at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Jessie Shiflett

As popular as the Bergenfest venue is, the location comes with some challenges. The fortress grounds can accommodate only 9,000 people and expansion is not possible without modifications to the historic landmark. The festival has not yet sold out on tickets so there are no plans to adjust the venue to hold more people.

“As traveling has become easier to accomplish, people are traveling more and more to attend festivals” said Algeroy. This brings competition from festivals going on at the same time all over the world, as well as from other concerts and festivals held in Bergen during the summer months. The fortress hosts multiple concerts and festivals before and after Bergenfest, giving music fans many options to choose from when purchasing tickets.