Queen Sonja hailed Norway’s west coast capital of Bergen as a city “with deep cultural roots back to the Hanseatic time” when she opened the annual Festspillene (Bergen International Festival) on Wednesday. She claimed the festival “is a good example of how Bergen has formed its identity.”
The nearly 80-year-old queen played a role in Bergen’s cultural life herself this week, with the re-opening of the KODE art museums on Tuesday featuring an exhibit of her own works. The queen’s art has been criticized as not being good enough for KODE’s reopening, but Queen Sonja shrugged it off, telling state broadcaster NRK that “criticism must be tolerated.”
She went on to hold the opening address at the 65th Festspillene, with King Harald in attendance as well. Security was higher than usual, following the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday. Streets leading into Bergen’s main city square Torgallmenningen were blocked by historic fire trucks, to prevent anyone from driving other vehicles into crowds of people.
The opening ceremonies included highlights from the festival program, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra playing as well. The festival runs until June 7, with the full program in English available here (external link, to the festival’s website).