What is the difference between a bunad and a festdrakt or a folkdrakt?


Blue damask with damask apronLight turq Telemark StyleRed damask top with embroidery grey damask top telemark styleBlack damask bodice

All are photos above are of Festdrakt ,but what is the difference between a bunad and Festdrakt? That is the million dollar question….  These are not considered a bunad but still are quite elaborate as they use beautiful damask and wool as well as elegant looking trims. They have no affiliation with any area of Norway (except for the Bergen Festdrakt shown below) and are considerably less than a traditional bunad. They run any where from about $ 600 to around $ 900 and they are available on line or from traditional stores in Norway. There are also no exact designs in how they are to be made (except for ones like the Bergen Festdrakt), therefore you will see great variation on how they are made. They are not usually covered in the norsk bunadleksikon (the Norwegian encyclopedia of bunad) which gives you all the info about all bunad and the festdrakt for various regions.

Bergen festdrakt

Bergen Festdrakt

Many regions will have a traditional bunad and a folkdrakt. This is something that you can look up in the  norsk bunadleksikon,  in there you will see photos of all the bunad and folkdrakt for each region. Unfortunately it is quite expensive and only available in Norwegian it can be ordered online from Norway if you wish to make the investment.

Yet if you really want to be more confused some of regional bunads such Oslo and Bergen are still considered  a drakt and not a bunad.  And the Lundeby is a drakt not a bunad, (it is often used in the Oppland and Hedmark region….it is named for the man who designed it, Lundeby). These are shown below and you can see they are quite elaborate and all of them are ones that have been designated to be made in the proper method.

If you wish to own one you are able to order them on line.  You may find out that some of the online store may want you to make a trip to Norway to get measured….so if you thought the cost of the costume (anywhere from $ 3,000 upwards to $ 10,000) then you have to add the cost of the trip….the other way would be to make one for yourself. That would mean ordering a kit and doing all the embroidery yourself or having some one do it for you. The kits usually start at about $ 1,500 ( and up) depending on the amount of embroidery etc. There is a source in the US plus you can order from the Norwegian websites. Unfortunately most of the instructions are in Norwegian so you may want to consider taking the classes offered from the US resource http://bunadbutikken.com/

bergensbunadoslo mother and daughterLundeby woman

 Bergen                                    Oslo                                             Lundeby

full look

                Coastal Drakt                  

The big question is, is this an approved costume/bunad/drakt?

Here is what is written by The Norwegian Institute of Bunad and Folkdrakt……                                                           

“Are there approved costumes? 
No, there is no approval for the costumes. One must, however, be attentive to the people who have developed costume may have copyrights to it, and that this production without their permission will be conduct employment as piracy. What many think of when you say “approved”, the costumes that are developed by local costume boards or in cooperation with the Norwegian Centre for costume and folk costume.  One creates when a costume for your organization / institution’s criteria.”

I know this may seem very confusing but it best to purchase one of the books as outlined in a previous blog. As I mentioned to you I can help if you want to find out what bunad/costume you would want to consider….just let me know where your family is from or which one you are considering. Hate to sound so preachy but do your homework…so you know what you are getting!

What should we talk about next?


7 responses »

    • These festdrakt are pretty much generic…they are not specific to any one particular area of Norway except for the Oslodrakt, Coastaldrakt etc….the ones at the beginning of the blog are ones that can be worn by anyone and are good because they are non-regional specific and not as expensive as some of the ones that are from regions and have a great deal of embroidery on them…does that help?

  1. Hi! I love your blog! And, I love Norwegian folk wear. While I doubt I could ever afford nor make a bunad (though I may try a folkedrakt), I am curious what one from my ancestors region would look like, and I’m having trouble pinning one down from all the websites I look to. My family comes from Tinglestad, Norway. Thanks for taking the time to read and any help you can offer.

  2. Or if you don’t care about it being very high quality and just want a dress that looks good enough, get the one from Spar Kjøp. http://www.sparkjop.no/Nettbutikk-kategorier/Dame/Overdeler/Festdrakt/Festdrakt-med-skjorte/p/813783 There’s a blue and a red one. They’re 1599kr, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than the 20000 – 30000kr or more to get a real bunad made. Probably can’t order them from over there in the US though, but no reason someone you know couldn’t send it to you. “Størrelse” is the size, 38/40 is around a UK 12-14, not sure what that is in US sizes, a 10? It looks cheaper, but it’s fine for what it is. This is what I got because I didn’t feel right about wearing an actual bunad on May 17 and other days since I’m not Norwegian (not even a distant ancestor like “American-Norwegians” lol).

    • The costumes from Spar Kjøp are all made in China and you basically get what you pay for, they are NOT a bunad and make no representation of being one. But they do not ship to the US. You would have to purchase them in Norway. There is a woman who buys them in Norway and then turns around and sells them on ebay for over $ 400 or more when they cost about $ 190 – $ 200 in Norway…but as I said they are low quality Chinese made and not the quality most people would want… They also sell bunad shoes for about $ 17 and they would work if you do not wear them frequently, you could think about purchasing them on your next trip to Norway if they are in the stores when you are there. I believe they usually put them out around March/April in preparation for confirmation time and May 17th….

      • Yeah, I agree they’re worse quality, but bunads are expensive and if someone just wants one that looks OK to use for dress up or whatever but can’t afford the insane costs of a bunad (I assumed having a proper regional bunad would matter less to people who are not Norwegian and are interested in festdrakt) then it could be a decent temporary alternative. I found your post by googling festdrakt, so I am very aware it is not a bunad. Bunads need to be made by people approved to make them, I believe, which is partly why they’re so expensive even accounting for the better quality material and work on it.

        I definitely would not pay twice the cost for this costume from Spar Kjøp, but at the cost it is if you knew someone in Norway they could grab one and then it’s just postage and perhaps import taxes the US end? I saw some at Spar Kjøp a few days ago so they’re definitely out for sale in March, they sometimes sell out before May. I saw ‘bunad shoes’ on sale for around the same price at Eurosko too, not that this is very helpful for most people on this blog. 🙂 I can at least vouch for the costume versions from Spar Kjøp looking the same as the pictures.

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