In 1979 George Lucas chose Finse, Norway, as a filming location for Star Wars Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, and who does not remember the epic scenes from the ice planet Hoth? 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie, and the town of Finse, Norway, is going all out to celebrate the milestone.
Based on a story by George Lucas, set three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has established its base on the ice planet Hoth. The movie in which Master Yoda utters, “Do or do not—there is no ‘try,’ ” became one of the best in the Star Wars saga.
Filming in Norway began on March 5, 1979, on the country’s sixth largest glacier, Hardangerjøkulen, about 3 miles from the town of Finse. The crew experienced sub-zero temperatures of -29F in a winter storm that came with 18 feet of snow!
The movie’s premiere took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on May 17, 1980, with a nationwide release on May 21, 1980.
The Empire Strikes Back won an Academy Award for best sound and a Special Achievement Academy Award for best visual effects. In 2010 the film was selected to be preserved as part of the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
The Importance of Finse and How to Get There
Finse represents the planet Hoth for Star Wars fans worldwide. The movie was partially filmed on the glacier and outside the FINSE 1222 hotel, which was also the production home of the entire film crew. Located at the highest point of the Bergen Railway, Finse 1222 first opened in 1909, at the same time as the Bergen Railway was completed. The hotel has 41 rooms and overlooks the Hardangerjøkulen glacier.
Believe it or not, there are no actual roads to Finse, but it is easy to get to the hotel by either train (4 hours away from Oslo, and 2 1/2 hours from Bergen) with four daily departures.
Visit Hoth 2020
From March 6th through March 8th Star Wars fans will gather in Finse to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the movie. It is the fourth gathering of fans in Finse and is hosted by the Visit Hoth Group, the FINSE 1222 Hotel, and the Nordic Film Tourism Association.
During the festival, fans have access to speakers. Past gatherings included Peter MacDonald, the second unit director of the movie during the filming in Finse; Craig Miller, former Director of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm and creator of the Official Star Wars Fan Club; Knut Vadseth, the photographer on set back in 1979; and Oscar nominee Alan Tomkins, the Art Director of the movie.
A 2-night’s stay, with meals and festival pass, starts at $461 per person. The festival pass for non-staying guests is $108.
For more information, visit FINSE122. Star Wars fans have been booking the hotel for weeks now, so your best chance to participate in the festival is to stay off property and commute.
If All Things Fail—Star Wars Fans Can Still Celebrate Close to Home
While traveling to Norway would be the best of all worlds, it might not be in the stars for 2020. Fret not: In a galaxy not so far away, you can enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park. The new land is now complete, as is the one on its sister planet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Die-hard fans know that Galaxy’s Edge tells the story of the saga about 35 years after the Battle of Yavin, meaning that the scene is set about 32 years after Star Wars Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, and the scenes filmed at Finse.
However, fans will love visiting the land and its epic rides. In addition to the main rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the land has several shops, eateries, and Star Wars characters roaming the streets. For all things Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, visit The Unofficial Guides Star Wars site where you can find reviews of both lands, the rides, food, and, most of all, how to access it all. May the Force be with you!
All photos Star Wars event pictures in Finse are courtesy of Teodor Bjerrang, who has attended all festivals so far. He is eagerly looking forward to March when he will be joining fans once more in Finse. Make sure to visit his website, which is a treasure trove of pictures from past gatherings.