Lillehammer has been a City of Refuge, and associated with ICORN, since 2008. Through the ICORN programme Lillehammer has welcomed three persecuted writers; Francisca Prudence Uriri, a filmmaker from Zimbabwe, Ba Hai Huynh, a blogger from Vietnam, and in 2014 the poet Nama Jafari from Iran, who will actively participate in the programme until autumn 2016.
Lillehammer is a literature town all year round. The Norwegian Festival of Literature, which takes place in Lillehammer in May every year, is the biggest non-commercial literature festival in the Nordic countries. The Norwegian Festival of Literature attracts both national and international authors and audiences, and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015.
Lillehammer House of Literature, which shares location with Lillehammer library, offers a broad selection of literary and cultural events throughout the year.
The Nansen Humanistic Academy offers courses in creative writing and arranges “Book week”, which is packed with literary experiences and well attended writers’ talks. The academy has been the location for seminars for all the guest writers in Norway, arranged by Lillehammer City of Refuge during The Norwegian Festival of Literature.
In the summer, guests of Lillehammer can visit the homes of two Nobel Prize winning authors; Sigrid Undset’s home Bjerkebæk and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s home Aulestad.
Throughout the year visitors and inhabitants can encounter the Norwegian literary canon, from Norse times up to present day Norway; stone tiles engraved with quotes from major works of Norwegian literature are laid down on locations across the town, and may be explored through a map showing the way.