Where Does Frozen Take Place? 9 Ways Norway Inspired Arendelle

February 4, 2020  - by 
Woman in ice castle. Where does frozen take place? Magical land of Norway.

Where does Frozen take place? Where is Arendelle ? It’s not too far from reality than you may think.

The world of Frozen is so beautifully enchanting that you might have wondered if a place like that actually exists—or if it’s just some made-up setting to make the Disney magic happen. 

Well, it’s kind of both.

While Frozen takes place in the fictional kingdom Arendelle, the kingdom was based on multiple locations in Norway. The team behind Frozen even visited Norway to gain inspiration, and you can see Nordic influence all throughout the movie. Here are just a few of the connections between Frozen and the very real world of Norway.

1. Arendelle’s Name and Architecture Come from Norway

If you look closely, you will find that Arendelle was stitched together from fragments of Norway. For example, the kingdom was named after Arendal, a port in southern Norway.

The design, however, came from Bergen, a city in Norway’s western fjords. Disney tours in Norway even claim Bergen as the “storybook village” that was the “inspiration for Arendelle, the kingdom and home to Anna and her sister Elsa.” 

Bergen, city that inspired Arendelle

Architecture throughout Norway influenced the buildings in Arendelle. Take a look at Heddal Church. Look like Arendelle’s castle? That’s because the design was based on it, with one notable difference—the real-life church is wooden. This architectural style came from the Viking era and is called dragestil, ordragon style.

Fun Fact: In Norwegian, “Arendelle” can be loosely translated as “eagle valley.”

Heddal Church, which inspired Frozen architecture in Arendelle

2. Frozen and Norway Share Similar Landscapes and Scenery

The landscapes of Arendelle were heavily influenced by Norway’s western fjords, particularly Nærøyfjord. In the fjords, you will find the same waterways, mountains, and steep cliffs that you see in Frozen. 

The movie also features scenes in the woods, which are representative of the boreal woodlands found in Norway. If you would like to see one for yourself, one of the best preserved examples is Øvre Pasvik National Park.

Øvre Pasvik National Park, Norway Fjords, which inspired Frozen and Arendelle landscape

3. The Music Has Nordic Influences

The opening song immediately tells you that the movie is based on Norway. The song, titled “Vuelie,” was adapted from a song called “Eatnemen Vuelie,” which was written by Frode Fjellheim, a Sami musician. The Sami are the indigenous people of Norway and Sweden, and “Vuelie” contains elements of joik, a traditional Sami singing style.

Later, Elsa’s coronation is accompanied by a song in Old Norse. The piece was also inspired by traditional Sami music.

The orchestral film score brings in even more elements of Nordic music. The bukkehorn and other regional instruments were used to record the music. Kulning—a traditional high-pitched Scandinavian yodeling call—also played a prominent role throughout the soundtrack of the second Frozen movie.


4. Norwegian Art Inspired Frozen’s Spellbinding Design

Rosemåling is a Norwegian art form that literally means “decorative painting.” It is characterized by flowing designs of flowers, scrollwork, lining, geometric shapes, and landscapes.

And you can bet the filmmakers of Frozen used the designs. Almost everything in the movie is decorated, from the fabrics to the walls to Elsa’s ice magic. Basically, if you notice design work or patterns in Frozen, it is likely based on rosemåling.


5. The Fashion in Frozen Is Nordic

The intricate costumes in Frozen can be referred to as bunads, or modern costumes in Norway based on traditional Norwegian clothing. You can see examples in the Norsk Folkmuseum

bunads, traditional clothing from Norway

The Sami still wear a style of clothing like the styles found in Frozen. Traditional garments include the gákti, similar to what you see in the movie. 

Fun Fact: To understand how a dress behaves while walking through snow, the design team filmed themselves walking through snow in dresses—both the men and the women. 

6. Even the Frozen Trolls Are Influenced by Nordic Mythology

Trolls are a big part of Norwegian legends, and as we know, they play a major role in Anna and Elsa’sstory. In old Norse folklore, trolls are magical creatures living in the mountains in family groups. That sounds a lot like the trolls in Frozen, right? Both can also be disguised as rocks. 

One example of trolls in Norway is Trollstigen. It is a dramatic landscape featuring a switchback road where trolls are rumored to come out at night. 

Trollstigen, Norway. Inspired where Frozen takes place

7. Both Norway and Frozen Love Reindeers

You can’t forget Sven, Kristoff’s loveable reindeer. After all, “reindeers are better than people.” Reindeer are a common sight in Norwegian landscapes, and they are perfectly suited for the cold. The Sami people are indigenous to the areas of Norway and Sweden, and they are well known for herding reindeer in the north. 

Reindeer. Reindeer live near Arendelle in Frozen

8. The Story That Inspired Frozen Is Scandinavian

Frozen is loosely based on a story called The Snow Queen. Both stories feature a snow queen, trolls, reindeer, frozen hearts, and snow creatures. However, the source material is an altogether darker story with a demon, a rather unfortunate magic mirror, and robbers. 

The Snow Queen was written by an author responsible for many of today’s fairy tales—Hans Christian Andersen. Because Andersen was a Dane himself, much of his work takes root in Scandinavia. You can even visit Andersen’s home in Denmark

Hans Christian Andersen

9. You Can Find Norse Runes and Symbols in Frozen

Norse runes and symbols also make subtle appearances in the first and second films. For example, in one of the early scenes of the first movie, the king looks at a book containing Norse runes. The runes can also be seen inscribed on the gravestones for Anna and Elsa’s parents.

The poster for the second movie proved controversial. The 4-point snowflake on the poster would be impossible in real life. However, the design was based on the Norse vegvísir, a compass intended to prevent the wearer from getting lost in a storm, which reflects the themes of the second movie.

Fun fact: The characters Hans, Kristoff, Anna, and Sven were named as a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, in addition to being normal Scandinavian names.

Norse vegvísir

Now that you know where Anna and Elsa are from, find out where YOU are from. Do you share the same heritage as Anna and Elsa? How has your heritage influenced your story? Find out using FamilySearch.org. 

Your Norwegian Heritage

the northern lights in Norway

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  1. Thank you for this connecting information. Now I am interested in seeing the film. Although Finland is not counted as a Scandinavian country, it shares some of these cultural traits because the Sami people also live within its borders. They herd reindeer, by government decree, in the far north of the country.

    1. You are correct, but the samii people also have their own language and heritage and is VERY far away from “the rest of norway”. But, Finland is part of Norden, with the 3 scandinavian countries and Iceland. So, you can definitely feel a connection with finnish roots and Frozen. The reindeer- part is also part of North of Norway, not only the Finnmark-county (Samii)

    2. Fun Fact! The Northuldra in Disney’s Frozen 2 are based off the Sami! And true, they do take care of reindeer. After all, reindeer are better than people!

  2. My 2x great grandfather, Christian Hans Monson, was born in Norway. I enjoyed reading about the comparisons listed here.

    1. When i watched the movie on the cinema, i didnt know ANYTHING about it. As born and raised in Norway, i probably commented 20 times throughout the movie “Oh my. This IS SO INSPIRED FROM NORWAY!” (Well – ofc i said this in Norwegian and probably annoyed everyone with it) – but i found it SO cool! Little Norway! MY little Norway!

  3. Work how king and queen from find out how parents is Ave shipwreck Denmark little mermaid history what happened was Anna when born Elsa frozen heart ice frozen

  4. I have not seen the movie, and probably won’t bother to watch it. I tire of Disney’s big money making movies. Still, thanks for this post. I am of Norwegian heritage and found the references to Norway very interesting.

    1. Oh my! You have to see this movie! Disney has had a few movie flops in the past but Frozen 2 is so good! Watch for free with subscription on Disney +.

  5. My Norwegian ancestors came from Sogndal, Sogn, Norway; Valders valley North of Oslo; Bo and Bamble, Telemark, Norway.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! I love Frozen 2 and it was so interesting to read what inspired it. What also is really cool about this is how Frozen 2 connects to family history. In the film, Elsa and Anna look to the past for answers about their parents, their kingdom, and themselves. Elsa discovers who she is through her deceased mother and finds the truth to the past through her deceased grandfather. So it was really inspiring to read this.