Think hygge, snow, and gingerbread

Norway House opens its sixth annual Gingerbread Wonderland

Gingerbread Wonderland

Photo courtesy of Norway House
For children, a visit to Norway House during the Christmas season is a visit to a magical wonderland.

The Norwegian American

This time of year, Norway House in Minneapolis is filled with hygge, as everyone thinks snow, and bakers begin building their gingerbread house entries for the sixth annual Gingerbread Wonderland.

The exhibit, which last year drew nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 200 structures, opened two weeks earlier this year on Nov. 6 to accommodate limited-visitor safety protocols. Bakers of all ages throughout the Twin Cities are participating in the show, which runs through Jan. 2, 2021.

“As we’ve planned for this year’s exhibit, which has become a part of so many of our community members’ holiday traditions, we’ve reimagined the entire event,” said Christina Carleton, executive director of Norway House.

In October, “Gingerbread Salons,” virtual happy hours on Thursday evenings, featured tips on how to make trees, windows, and icing, a fun home activity. Virtual viewing, available in early December, will make it possible for people everywhere to enjoy Gingerbread Wonderland. You can catch a free glimpse of the  online exhibit, and a $5 donation to Norway House will alllow you to see the full show.

Gingerbread Wonderland

Photo courtesy of Norway House
At the exhibit, visitors will recognize some of their favorite buildings, both in Norway and at home.

The opening of the event was kicked off on Nov. 5 with a special online reception with words of welcome from Norway House and its sponsors, as well as a special recorded greeting from Norwegian Ambassador to the United States Anniken R. Krutnes, who recently visited Minneapolis.

“This is a very special year, and we have to do things differently and have to be creative and innovative. And I am so glad to see that you can keep up this tradition with the Gingerbread Wonderland,” said Krutnes.

But as the pandemic continues to loom over us, Norway House has had to adjust its plans to ensure that all staff and visitors stay safe. For this reason, on Nov. 21, they temporarily closed their doors in accordance with recent public health recommendations. Anyone who made reservations to visit Gingerbread Wonderland from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19 may contact Norway House to rebook their tickets for the remainder of the exhibit.

When the in-person show does reopen, no more than 10 guests will be allowed inside the gallery at a time, and it will be sanitized between each group of visitors. Special accommodations will be available for immunocompromised and sensory sensitive people. All guests are required to register online to book an appointment.

The annual gingerbread exhibit at Norway House was inspired by Norway’s longstanding tradition of holiday gingerbread houses and Bergen’s famous gingerbread town, Pepperkakebyen. Both exhibits feature gingerbread structures fashioned after famous buildings from their home cities and beyond. Past years’ submissions in Minneapolis have featured gingerbread structures of the magical house from the movie Up, a log cabin in the woods, and the Oslo Opera House. More exciting things are planned for this year.

The “Best of Show” winners will be selected by a renowned team of Twin Cities foodies: Lee Dean, cookbook author and editor of the Taste Section of the Star Tribune; Nancy Ngo, food and lifestyle reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press; and Sue Zelickson, James Beard award winner and founder of the Charlie Awards, Women Who Really Cook, and the Minneapolis and St. Louis Park Kids Cafes. Winners will be announced in early December.

All visitors to the exhibit, in-person and virtual, will be invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” award, to be announced in mid-December. Watch for updates in The Norwegian American.

For more information on Gingerbread Wonderland, visit the event page on the Norway House website at

Photo courtesy of Norway House
Norwegian Ambassador to the United States Anniken R. Krutnes visited Norway House in October. She recroded a special introduction to the 2020 Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit, now available on YouTube as part of a program for the opening reception festivities. Krutnes recognized the importance of creativity and innovation during the pandemic and was pleased to see that strict safety protocols are in place. “… I am glad to see that you can keep up this tradition with the Gingerbread Wonderland,” she said. Pictured here, left to right, are: Eivind Heiberg, Norwegian honorary consul general to the Upper Midwest; Christina Carleton, executive director of Norway House; Anniken R. Krutnes; and Robert Tunheim, Norway House board chair.

Norway House connects the United States and contemporary Norway through arts, business, and culture. The organization is celebrating its 15th year in 2020 and is in the process of preparing to expand its campus. For more information on events and membership, please visit

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.