Visit the Real-World Settings of the Movie 'Frozen' in Norway

July 14, 2014

Explore real-world landscapes and villages of Norway inspired by the hugely popular, animated movie 'Frozen'.

The movie draws from Scandinavian culture as well as the dramatic fjords and storybook villages of Norway to tell the story of princess Elsa who has the power to create ice. Her magic is kept a secret until an emotional event drives her to flee the castle alone while covering the kingdom in ice and snow. Her sister, with the help of an ice seller of the mountains, his reindeer and a plucky snowman, sets out in search of Elsa, to save the kingdom from eternal winter.

Many of the real sights can be visited on your own during a trip to Norway.

Where to Go in Norway

Though there is a real city of Arendal, a southern port in Norway, the movie's setting, Arendelle, is based on the historic Bryggen area in the city of Bergen, a UNESCO Heritage Site, in the western fjords of Nryfjord, off Norway's longest fjord, Sognefjorden.

To get a feel for the history during your trip, opt to stay in one of the hotels located right in the historic town center, such as Det Hanseatiske Hotel, housed in a 16th-century building, or Klosterhagen Hotel set on the same grounds as the Michael Monastery.

Rros, the inspiration for the place where we find the movie's Kristoff and his reindeer, was a former Norwegian copper mining town and UNESCO site. Fishing, sleding and farm tours are the activities here for tourists.

When to Go to Norway

The opening scene of the movie puts the northern lights (the aurora borealis) on center stage. If you travel between November and April to the town of Tromso, which has an observatory and Nothern Lights Museum dating from the 1920s, you'll have the best chance to see the spectacular display.

To experience the Midnight Sun, the time of year of perpetual daylight, early summer is your travel window. But the months of May and September will afford you lower hotel rates, fewer fellow tourists, and milder temperatures.

Outdoor Pursuits

For outdoor enthusiasts, Norway excels in natural beauty and offers a number of ways to enjoy the water, mountains and glaciers. The Voss River Rafting company takes travelers on a thrilling ride through the fjord with the mountains rising from the water. Or, for a more relaxing time, take a Fjord Safari or a multi-night luxury cruise, such as those offered through Hurtigruten cruise line.

Architecture of 'Frozen'

The flourishes of the wood carvings and triangular roofs of Norway's Gothic stave churches as well as Rosemaling folk art, inspired the artwork of the movie's castle and decor. Tour Akershus Fortress in Oslo, with its beautiful hand-painted pattern, which influenced the design of the movie's castle interior. Also, visit Borgund Stave Church, known as the best preserved out of Norway's stave churches.

Scandinavian Culture

The film also draws inspiration from the Smi people of Scandinavia showing the use of reindeer for transportation, their tools and clothing styles of the ice cutters of the film's opening scene. The Smi still tend reindeer today as they did in the 19th century. In the movie, designs on Kristoff's sled, are inspired by actual Smi duodji decorations.

For your trip to Norway, the open-air exhibits of the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo feature 140 original buildings from all over Norway reassembled on 35 acres. The buildings include a rare stave church, constructed around 1200. Historic Norwegian life is captured here in stunning detail through the exhibits.

Music of 'Frozen'
The opening sequence of the movie, inspired by traditional Smi music, is sung by female choir Cantus based in Trondheim. Cantus performs concerts in and around Trondheim and Oslo.

The orchestral film score also features regional instruments, such as the bukkehorn. To see traditional folk singers and dancers for yourself, the Bergen International Festival, held in late May and early Jun, features major artists performing music, drama, opera, ballet and folkloric presentations. Concerts of the work of Bergen composer Edvard Grieg are held at his former home, Troldhaugen.

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