The Norwegian city of Bergen hosts a delightful Christmas event that, now in its twenty-sixth consecutive year (2017), has established itself as a local festive tradition. From late November until the start of January, little dwellings made from gingerbread by local schools and kindergartens, are brought together to create what is possibly the largest known gingerbread town – Pepperkakebyen – in the world. This huge display is not only enchanting to look at, but also wonderful to smell. The strong, sweet aroma of gingerbread in the room certainly adds to the festive spirit, but also makes it rather difficult to resist nibbling on a piece of roofing or chimney pot whilst walking around the display.
Granted, it is not the only gingerbread town in the world made especially for Christmas, and Bergen has not always been officially credited for being the largest in the world. The ample amounts of decorative sweets, cotton wool, fairy-lights and plastic train-tracks included as part of the display disqualify it from being entered into the Guinness Book of World Records because the book requires it to be solely made out of gingerbread. As a result, the coveted title is often given to the much smaller, but completely edible Gingerbread Lane in New York.
Yet, this doesn’t stop Bergen from rewarding the title to itself regardless, arguing that its ‘predominately gingerbread’ display physically covers a much greater area than its American rival – it fills most of the floor space in a local sports hall – and modestly proclaims itself as the better display as well.
Whether it is or isn’t the largest gingerbread town in the world, it is certainly one of the most charming Christmas displays I have come across on my travels… and I have never seen so many Smarties sweets all in one place.
The Pepperkakebyen has been hosted for several years inside the Sentralbadet at Teatergaten 37.
Tickets are (2017) NOK 90 per person (approximately £9, 10€, $12), with concessions for children and students.
Opening hours throughout December are usually 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday with a slightly earlier closing time at weekends. Obviously, it is not open on Christmas Day. It is probably best to go late in the evening or on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
For more details go to the official Visit Bergen website here, particularly leading up to Christmas.
Évora … where Christmas is celebrated all year round