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Are you going to Arendalsuka? If not, why not?


Switzerland has Davos. Norway has Arendalsuka. And like Davos in the winter, Arendalsuka attracts a huge number of business people, politicians, activists, and journalists to Arendal in the summer. Instead of snowy peaks, it’s all about long evenings on the fisherman’s wharf. 

But there are more similarities between Davos and Arendalsuka than there are differences. What matters most is that they are both centered around high-level discussions about long-term efforts to improve society.  

One of the many sunny days at the fisherman’s wharf in Arendal.
One of the many sunny days at the fisherman’s wharf in Arendal.

Arendalsuka has been running since 2012. It has become essential for anyone who wants to be taken seriously by the Norwegian political, business, and civil society to attend Arendalsuka. It’s an opportunity to discuss what you think needs to be done to shape the future, listen to other people, and debate the best approaches. Last year, 150,000 people were there, engaged in these important discussions. 

Busy days; packed evenings

The days are packed with nearly 2,000 events. To give you an idea of how much the event has grown, there were just 600 events in 2016. This has rapidly become the place to be. It isn’t just the formal events. The dinners in the restaurants of this pretty town, and the drinks on the fisherman’s wharf provide unparalleled networking opportunities in an informal setting. 

The highlight of the week is the Party Leaders’ Debate when Norway’s political leaders go head to head on the key issues of the day, as well as looking to the country’s, the region’s, and the world’s future. There is, of course, a lot of theatre involved. But beyond the heat, this debate always throws interesting and useful light on a range of topics that affect us all. 

One of the main stages in the center of Arendal town.
One of the main stages in the center of Arendal town.

At Leidar, we go to Arendalsuka to support our clients, who are Norwegian and international companies and civil society organisations. We organise events, host dinners, and receptions, and facilitate meetings with relevant stakeholders. We are also the eyes and ears on the ground for clients unable to attend. 

We also go for ourselves. We meet old friends and make new ones. And we learn a lot about what the future holds and how best we can play our part to make it better. 

Arendalsuka really is the place to be. 

Importance of planning 

In one way, Arendalsuka is frustrating: you can’t do everything. It is, therefore, very important to plan your week very carefully, to ensure you make the very most out of your time there. At the simplest level, that means making sure you have somewhere to stay. With three times the population of the town arriving for the event, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

Logistics aside, the start point is to think about what you want to achieve and how you are going to get the results you want.

Here is our checklist: 
  1. Why are you going to Arendalsuka?  
    • To meet a particular politician 
    • To network with relevant stakeholders 
    • To showcase your organisation’s latest innovation or concept 
  2. Do you want to host an event?  
    • What is your budget? Hosting an event by yourself can cost between €3500-€6000 for the venue itself. Co-hosting is often cheaper, and many politicians prefer events that are co-hosted by several stakeholders. 
  3. Which stakeholders do you want to talk to?  
    • Reach out to the relevant stakeholders in advance to ensure they are at Arendalsuka at the same time as you are and that they are available. Not everybody stays for the whole week. 
  4. How do you communicate with your audience about your presence at Arendalsuka? 
    • Whether you are hosting an event, or just want to let other people know you and your organisation will be there, make sure you tell people. You can publish an article on your website, post it on social media, email your contacts; make sure the right people know. And be sure to document your trip and write up your post-Arendalsuka reflections. 
  5. Now start planning for next year’s event.

Cover image: The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) during an interview on their boat in Arendal.
Photos: @Arendalsuka, @Mona Hauglid

Maiken Prestmo

Consultant, Media and Content, based in Oslo

Maiken has previously worked in politics, the private sector and in non-governmental organisations, focusing on communications, sustainability, politics and media.

Should you have any queries contact us