The man behind Oslo’s so-called julemarked (Christmas market) said last spring he’d given up trying to arrange the event for the sixth year in a row. It opened on Thursday anyway, despite bureaucratic hassles and an unexpected bidding round.
The market has survived its move from the plaza outside City Hall (Rådhusplassen) to the heart of town and, reports newspaper Aften, quarrels with city officials over whether stands could serve alcoholic beverages. Last spring, the city also suddenly claimed the entire market had to be put out to bid, in accordance with city regulations.
That’s when Aamodt said he was ready to drop the whole project. As it turned out, though, market founder Ketil Aamodt was the only bidder and his new agreement with the city runs for three years with an option for more.
“The city and I have had our disagreements, but we’ve never been enemies,” Aamodt told Aften. He admitted that he was ready to give it all up when told about the required bidding “but I was number one, no else submitted bids.”
Aamodt claims he’s never earned any money on the market but broke even last year “and that was progress.” He wanted to move the market from the waterfront plaza into the city center at Studenterlunden, the area adjacent to the outdoor ice rink and parade portion of Oslo’s main boulevard, Karl Johans Gate, to boost traffic.
It was successful, he said, even though his vendors weren’t allowed to serve alcohol along with all the seasonal food on offer. He said the number of vendors this year has nearly doubled, from 30 last year to 50, selling food, knitwear, Sami crafts, jewelry, baked goods and a variety of other goods, much of it imported. Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang will preside over an “official” opening of the market on Saturday afternoon.
Aamodt also finally won permission for vendors to serve traditional Christmas beverages including hot mulled wine, akevitt and juleøl (Christmas beer). “In this dark time of the year the city needs some cheer and a good atmosphere,” Aamodt said.
The market will be open in downtown Oslo every day until lille julaften (Little Christmas Eve) on December 23.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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