Norwegian cities started to empty out on Friday, as residents headed into the Easter week and its unusually long string of official days off. Spring skiing in the mountains is the traditional way of spending the Easter holidays, and the royal family is among those moving up to higher elevations.
Next Thursday, Friday and Monday are state holidays, and many Norwegians take the entire week off. Schools are closed, along with many businesses, and even most newspapers cease publication from Thursday to Tuesday.
It’s not as drastic as in earlier years, when Norway all but shut down during the long Easter weekend. Cinemas in several cities started remaining open a few years ago, along with some museums and increasing numbers of cafés and restaurants, catering to those who opted to stay in town.
This year, with weather reports iffy at best, more may be doing exactly that. State meteorologists said the weather in southern Norway would be “grey and rather boring,” with no major storms or wind in the forecast but not much sunshine either. Norwegians’ idea of a “dream Easter” involves lots of blue skies, sunshine, ski treks and eating chocolate and oranges outdoors along the trails.
The weather may be better in northern Norway, forecasters said, where the Finnmark plateau remains a popular long-distance skiing destination.
King Harald and Queen Sonja were among those heading for the high country, with palace officials saying they would spend Easter at the royal lodge in Sikkilsdalen, in the mountains above Vinstra. Crown Prince Haakon planned to join them, bringing along the royal children Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit intended to study during the first part of the week (she’s following a course at business college BI in Oslo) and then join her husband and children at the family’s own new mountain cabin at Uvdal.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Mette-Marit was in Milan earlier this week, but the palace wouldn’t comment. She has cancelled an official trip to Qatar just after Easter, complaining of a neck ailment, but she’s no longer on sick leave. The Crown Prince will travel to Qatar alone.
The palace wouldn’t say where Princess Martha Louise and her family were spending the Easter holidays.