There is one crucial question which every girl has to answer at one point or another: could you do without the daily look in the mirror, a hot shower and a powered hair dryer? Respectively, would you like to go to a week-long music festival? If said music festival proves to take place in Roskilde, Denmark, your answer should most definitely be YES!
The Roskilde Festival started in 1971 and since then has been Denmark’s major international annual music event. Back in the 70ies it was the likes of Woodstock which inspired the founders of Roskilde (former Sound Festival) to bring international music acts to Denmark and make the country’s youth gather. Today the spirit lives on and brings young people from all over to world to a tiny village in Denmark.
During the first week of July Roskilde turns into an international paradise of free art, love and music. On four warm-up and four festival days the crowd of 100.000 music and festival lovers create their own universe, build up a tent city and come up with all kinds of other surprises.
„Our tactic is ‘left-right-left-right’. Instead of taking the shortest way to reach the stage, we turn left and right as often as we can, so we won’t miss anything that happens on the camp site“, Morten tells me on our first trip crossing the whole camp site to attend the screening of the soccer EM final.
It’s 2008 and my voluntary year in Denmark is about to end. As a final treat I buy myself a tent and a train ticket to Roskilde. I want to check out the much talked about Roskilde Music Festival. With my tent in one hand and my final kroners in the other, I step out of the crowded train and make my way to the festival center. As I could not afford the ticket, I signed up as volunteer. Work four shifts during the warm up days or three during the music days, and you get your ticket for free. I did not know anybody else, but found a nice group of Germans coming to Roskilde for the last 10-15 years.
I was the newest addition to the group: younger than everybody else, female and from a different country. But I was soon to find out, that in Roskilde it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are – just the fact that you are there makes you part of a gigantic community.
More than Music
The festival offers so much more than just bands and music. Especially the four warm-up days give enough time and space for the tent society to grow. Every year new areas are added to the typical tent skyline: the Top Gun camp takes care of emotional stimulation in the surrounding 50 meters, the organizers of ‘Little Orange Stage’ make the festival’s main stage part of their miniversum, and many others build up stages and dance-floors to hang out all night. Every camping area has a different emphasis: one has a lake for a dip in the cool, another is home of the festival’s cinema tent (be careful: long queue in the sun), and yet another one invites you to lap on its outdoor ice skating rink. The infrastructure is extraordinary: you never walk longer that 20-30 minutes to reach a middle station providing a fire pit to cook your meals, a snack bar for the lazy ones, a cold beer shop to quench your thirst, relaxing areas with lots of shade, port-a-potties and shower houses.
The ‘left-right’ tactic seems to bear fruits from the first second. On our way back to our camp, we suddenly hear loud music from another direction and walk towards it. It is dark and all we see is red lights and the dark shadows of people dancing around a black music box which looks like a coffin. Someone is pulling the coffin-on-wheels and we follow, dancing along. It is time to move on, there is lots more to explore.
Music is not the only passion of the festival lovers. In the following days we walk past various artistic happenings. A bunch of girls paint silly figures on their new camp flags; a group of artists strolls across the camp site juggling, dancing and walking on their hands; a body paint artist makes a young man disappear behind the fur of a tiger. Roskilde festival is a mingle-mangle of all kinds of creative people. Or nudes. The annual naked run attracts hundreds of people taking their clothes of and run for a good purpose: fun.
All this is not even mentioning the festival’s effort to bring international artists to the festival. Experiences are endless.
„Can we pick up the beer-cans in your camp?“ – „Yeah sure.“ I feel like a princess with two butlers dressed in bright colors. Two guys in turquoise aprons start cleaning up our camp, picking up every returnable can or bottle. Great, I can be lazy and sustainable at the same time. Our waste gets returned and the money collected by it flows back to the non-profit festival organization. Sustainability and responsibility are a big deal at Roskilde festival. The food offered is often vegan or vegetarian; to ride the Ferris wheel you don’t have to pay but pedal for 15 minutes – the power for the attraction comes from 30 bicycles; the festival has its own train station on location to avoid people to get there by car – approximately 50% arrive by train. You can even donate your sleeping bag and roll mat which are given to the homeless in Copenhagen. Much is done to raise awareness of the destruction of the planet and society.
I have been to the festival twice, in 2008 and 2009. This year (June 29 – July 7) will be my great come-back at my old camp (since then called Camp Vienna) and the greatest festival there is! I’m looking forward to acts like Animal Collective, Sigur Rós and Volbeat. And to be honest, I will also enjoy some Ri-Ri dance tunes – that’s right: Rihanna is coming this year.
At Roskilde festival every taste in music is catered, whether it’s Rock, Pop, Electronic or Hip Hop – everyone is welcome. Get your tickets here, join the family and meet me in Denmark!