What better place to experience the longest, brightest days of midsummer than Norway?
Well, that’s exactly what IE’s Country Coordinator Norway, Kristian Bjørnstad, and IE trainer, Sandy Colvine, did this June, in the beautiful lakeside setting of the Valdres Nature and Culture Park, some three hours north of Oslo.

Wearing his other hat, as Secretariat Director of the Norwegian Regional Parks Association, Norske Parker, Kristian organised a conference bringing together almost 50 parks officers and managers from all over Norway. In addition to charting out a common way forward, a key part of proceedings was to demonstrate how heritage interpretation could help the parks to develop and deliver their ‘signature experiences’, or what makes them special to visitors.

Sandy led an introductory workshop on interpretive guiding and writing techniques, taking participants out of the conference rooms and onto the lakeside to reveal meanings in the vibrant colours, lush vegetation and strong local farming culture.

Norway boasts such spectacular scenery that it can actually distract visitors by preventing them from delving deeper into local culture to connect with local people and have hands-on cultural experiences that are just as rich and memorable, if not more so than the landscape. By turning the spotlight on people and their lives, the country becomes much more than simply fjords and Vikings and ‘signature experiences’ are key to widening and deepening its appeal, as well as a driver for sustainable tourism.

Heritage interpretation underpins the ‘signature experiences’ approach in Norway and that’s why IE was present at the conference to encourage the parks to adopt interpretation in their face-to-face visitor services and communication media.

The participants thoroughly enjoyed getting hands-on and really appreciated the tips and tricks to make their written texts come to life. Kristian and Sandy are currently developing a capacity building programme for the parks with interpretation at its core and hope that very soon Norwegian parks can be a shining example where visitors discover Norway in all its lights, not just the Northern or midsummer versions!

Sandy Colvine is an IE certified trainer, interpretive writer and member of IE’s Training Team and has recently joined the Supervisory Committee. He lives near Avignon, France, and can be contacted at: alexander.colvine@interpret-europe.net.

To cite this article:
Colvine, Sandy (2019) ‘Northern exposure’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2019, 20.
Available online: www.interpret-europe.net/fileadmin/Documents/publications/Newsletters/ie-newsletter_2019-2_summer.pdf