What’s special about December?
In Vollen, just like in most other villages and towns in Norway, the First Sunday in Advent, at the end of November or beginning of December is celebrated by lighting the Christmas tree and decorations in the centre of Vollen village.In 2019, the first Sunday in Advent is on December 1st. Children’s choirs sing carols and typical winter songs and the shops and cafés are open. Often warm non-alcoholic toddy and gingerbread biscuits are served to on-lookers by children dressed as Christmas elves.
(I took this photo from half way down Vollen skog road, looking down at Vollen village centre)
Lille julaften (Little Christmas Eve) on the 23rd December is the big day for buying those last minute gifts. It is also the last day before Christmas for buying alcohol or wine in the State Wine Monopoly shops. (The nearest to Vollen is in Slemmestad)
Julaften (Christmas Eve) is the day most Norwegians celebrate Christmas. The shops are open until about 13:00 hrs but most people spend the morning visiting family graves to light candles, or making final preparations for the Christmas dinner.
In the afternoon many attend one of the several church services. Our closest churches are in Slemmestad or at Østenstad.
Christmas begins with the ringing of church bells at 17:00 hrs and is the signal for families to gather round the dinner table. Afterwards carols are sung round the Christmas tree, perhaps Julenissen (Father Christmas) pays a visit, and presents are opened.
New Year’s Eve (nyttårsaften) is very special in Vollen. As midnight is far too late for young children, just before 5 p.m. in Vollen, families and local people gather at the kindergarden just five minutes up the road from Sheep’s Inn and walk in procession holding burning torches (which can be purchased at the kindergarden) down to the fjord at Vollen. In the photo you see the hundreds of people with torches have arrived down by the sea.
There some carols are sung, a short speech of hope is held, and then there is a spectacular display of fireworks out over the fjord.
Later at midnight there are again fireworks, but these are sent up into the night sky by individual families.
(I took these photos from Sheep’s Inn looking down to the harbour and fjord. Oslo is in the distance to the left)
Places especially worth going to in December
Children’s playgrounds and training apparatus for all ages
Every school and kindergarten in Norway has an outdoor playground. During school hours these are for the use of the children attending that place. However after 17:00 on weekdays, at weekends and during national or school holidays, most of these may be...
Magic Ice, Oslo
Magic Ice is found in four towns in Norway (and also in Anchorage, Alaska, Copenhagen, Denmark and Reykjavik, Iceland) The photos here were taken in Svolvær, in Lofoten in the North of Norway but the concept is much the same at each location. On entry you are given a...
Hiking in Asker (with maps and well marked routes)
Asker Turlag (Asker Municipality's hiking group) has made a website where a number of hiking trips of varying types are described in detail, with duration, length, elevation profile and map. You can use the automatic translation service on the site and giggle at some...
Astrup Fearnley Museum at Tjuvholmen
Astrup Fearnley Museet is a private museum of contemporary art, and has since its opening in 1993 been one of the most important art institutions in Oslo. The museum moved to Tjuvholmen in 2012, beautifully located in Oslo centre by the Oslo Fjord in a...
Tanum Middle Ages Church / Tanum kirke i Bærum
Tanum church which is a 23 minute drive from Vollen, dates from the 12th century and has sculptures from the Medieval Age. Around the church are several burial mounds from the Iron Age. The oldest graves are from the 17th century. Inside the church you can see...
SPA at Holmen Fjordhotell
A few minutes bus-ride from Vollen is Holmen Fjordhotell which has a lovely swimming pool and training centre, with sauna, steam-bath, cold pool, pool and big whirlpool. There are lockers available. In the Fitness centre there is a large variety of training...
Risenga ice-skating rink (kunstisbane)
Risenga ice-skating rink is about 6 km from Vollen and is prepared daily during the winter season from the beginning of November. The opening hours are given here but in general the rink is open from 09:00 - 22:30 daily.
Ekeberg Park (Ekebergparken)
Ekeberg park is large, with woods, established paths and art. (Click the link for a map of the park and details of all the works of art) All sculptures are of high quality and are representative of European art history of the last 130 years. (Just a few examples are...
Getting to Sheeps Inn by car in winter
The photo is from 16th January 2018 after a heavy fall of snow. However the first snow can arrive as early as the end of October. In winter conditions you can still drive up Vollen skog road but if there is a lot of snow, or minor roads are icy, it is possible to...
Vigeland Park is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions. The park is open to visitors all year round. There is a large parking lot beside the park. Allow at least an hour to enjoy the...