A Historical Market Place
The Lærdalsmarknaden (Lærdal Markets) association arranges three markets on a yearly basis: the Lærdal Markets (the third weekend of June), the Autumn Markets (the last weekend of September) and the newcomer, the Christmas Markets (the second last weekend of November). Lærdal’s roots as a historical marketplace go back hundreds of years. The centre of Lærdal, Lærdalsøyri took over the as the market place in Indre (Inner) Sogn from Kaupanger which hosted the “Lusakaupangen” markets during the Middle Ages. Although it’s impossible to date it accurately, it is known that markets were taking place in Lærdal during the 16th century. This is known due to an official order issued in 1596 that states that the markets were to last eight days and take place eight days after Michaelmas (29th of September). Lærdalsøyri was in an ideal location to host markets, being a natural hub between east and west. The ancient road went from the fjord and east over the Langfjelli Mountains going inland.
The Lærdal Markets in their original form were stopped by order of the king on the 20th of April 1876, but in 1982 local enthusiasts and voluntary associations in Lærdal restarted the ancient market traditions. The markets still take place outside in the middle of the old collection of wooden houses that Lærdal has been lucky enough to preserve. Whilst the items on offer and ways of travel have changed, the exchange of goods, entertainment and interactions between people remains at the centre of the markets. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 people attend one or more of the three yearly markets in Lærdal, and they come from places like Sogn, Valdres, Hallingdal, Voss and Hardanger, there is even an increase in visitors from Bergen that have discovered the value of visiting the beautiful and fruitful municipality of Lærdal.
If you want to visit the markets as a guest or as a seller, you can find more information on the markets’ website (Norwegian only).
(Photographs by J.C.Jerving, Jon E Tamnes and Hanne Stedje, Sogn avis)