Four days of mind-blowing music, 8 (optional) days of camping, the most beautiful and awesome people in Denmark, the best party of your life: just some of the many reasons why you need to know about Roskilde Festival.
1. The line-up is LIT to say the very least.
Photo courtesy of Jesper Mortensen via the Roskilde Festival Facebook page
2016’s lineup was headlined by LCD Soundsystem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, MØ (on her home turf), Neil Young + Promise of the Real, New Order, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tame Impala, Tenacious D and Wiz Khalifa.
Recent years also saw performances from The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Future Islands, Diplo, Haim, Dilated Peoples, Lykki Li, Manu Chao, Icona Pop, and a gazillion more. It was the best musical experience of my life. Nuff said.
2. It’s affordable.
Photo by Vegard S. Kristiansen (C)
The full 8-day ticket (camping included) is 1995 DKK, which is just short of $300. For reference, three days of Coachella with camping will cost you $498. The cost of Roskilde is particularly cheap when you consider that Denmark is the 3rd most expensive country in the world and you leave the festival and you’re immediately reminded of it. The festival is probably the cheapest 8 days you can spend in the country. This is because the organization is an enormous self-sustainable non-profit… we’ll say skål to that!
3. It is Danish youth culture at its “finest.”
Photo by Lip Magazine
We’ll use the word fine with a grain of salt here. There’s nothing fine about people using port-a-potties for 8 days. But this festival could not have been more Danish. I was with a group of Swedes and I met some Norwegians here and there, but with only about 700,000 people in the entire country of Denmark aged 15-24, I’d say these 130,000 twenty-some-year-olds at the festival certainly paint a pretty good picture of the demographic. My takeaways about this group of Danes:
- Everyone is cool. Even if they’re not cool when you get to know them, they will certainly fool you on appearances. But honestly, I didn’t meet a Dane in the 8 days there that I didn’t like. People here are generally pretty open, relaxed, and into celebrating life. I felt no judgement being the outsider American, they were just curious. “How did I even know about Roskilde?” And I wondered, “how does the non-Scandinavian world not know about it?”
- Roskilde is a prime occasion to observe why Denmark is considered the “happiest country in the world”.
- Their festival wardrobe is on-point. If you want to fit at Roskilde: white converse, high wasted cutoff shorts, a skimpy top, trendy sunglasses, black fanny pack–you’re pretty much set. Everyone says Scandinavians have the most awesome style. It’s true, they do, but it’s pretty easy if you have fabulous genetics and you just wear what everyone around you is wearing. Also, I think it’s difficult to find ugly clothes to purchase in Copenhagen–could be part of the equation.
Photo by stylesight.com
Funny note: The only other Americans I met at Roskilde were recruited (flown out to Denmark, all expenses paid) to compete in the skate competitions that took place in the warm-up days of the festival. I was more than stoked when the fellow Californian won the in-line segment. This was my first time actually watching a skate competition of any kind. Wildly entertaining. Highly recommended if you’ve never before.
Photo by Stig Nyaard
3a. Need a taster of what’s to come? Start with Distortion.
While Copenhagen may be best known for its calm and composed hygge fit for designer parents pushing handsome strollers, that whole image gets put through a funhouse mirror during the first week of June for Distortion.
Labelled as a “Celebration of Copenhagen Nightlife”, the five-day festival takes over the streets of Nørrebro and Vesterbro (open to the beautiful masses and killer DJs to match) before retreating to Refshaleøen for the weekend (a dedicated island space where festivalgoers can float from techno to funk to trap). A camp ground is set up for the festival, just 200 meters away from the action.
Indeed, this is a city with a party heart that’s ready to turn up the volume.
4. Scandinavians produce brilliant music that you will discover at this festival.
Photo by Gaelle Beri
I was blown away by the musical awesomeness of a few Scandinavian artists performing here. (Namely MØ, Zara Larsson, Tove Lo, and First Aid Kit to name a few). The opening days of the festival were packed with up-and-coming artists playing in all genres, all hailing from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland — and even further abroad, how about Colombia’s Ranco Aparte? Force yourself to leave your party camp and check them out. Also, Danish hip-hop is huge and getting bigger. If you’re a hip-hop person, your selection is quite robust at Roskilde.(Ok, heavy rock lovers as well: you know Scandinavians are serious about their metal. You too will not be disappointed).
5. This is an incredibly peaceful festival.
Photo by Roskilde Festival
Only in Denmark could there be a mix of such testosterone, alcohol, and havoc with no apparent violence. In eight days, I never even heard about a fight, of people getting stuff stolen, no drug overdoses, no human trampling, relatively little sexual harassment. This simply could not exist in the same way in the U.S. You have to see Roskilde to believe an eight-day party on this scale could actually run its course so flawlessly. Probably has something to do with the 32,000 volunteers, who provided superb security, hydration, and crowd control. Thanks, guys.
6. There are a billion other awesome things to do there besides seeing live music.
Photo by sensationalfootball.com
Example: Make your own solar-powered cell phone charger! Attend a Century Club party (100 songs in 100 minutes lubricated by 100 sips of beer), get stretchy at an Acro Yoga Workshop, lace up (and dress down) for the notorious Naked Run, throw back to a VHS Video Night, join an exclusive Q&A with Edward Snowden or walk through the giant Art Zone, with trippy and awesome projects abound (some 150 artists are represented here). Want to catch a soccer game between the Danish Homeless’ National Team and the Danish Politicians’ Team? You’re in luck! Roskilde, beyond the shows, is a show in itself!
7. It’s a festival with a conscious.
Photo by Frode Nakken
The entire festival is organized by The Roskilde Festival Charity Society, and has stayed truer than true to its 1971 hippie, humanitarian roots, having donated over 40 million dollars (from the beginning through 2016) to charities like Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, The World Wildlife Fund, Save the Children, Support the Victims in Iraq, and many more. The theme of the festival for 2016-2018 are the different aspects of equality. When it comes to camping supplies, nothing is wasted — leftover sleeping bags, tents and air mattresses get vetted for quality before being donated to homeless causes around the region. You kind of feel like a good person just for partying your ass off. It’s weird.
8. Amazing food.
Photo by Anne Mie Bak Andersen
It’s reasonably priced. Vegan/vegetarian options abound. This year’s festival held vendors to a minimum of 70% organic ingredients in their noms with that percentage rising to 90% in 2017. 150 food stalls with everything ranging from beef tartare sandwiches to pipping hot Thai coconut curries to truffle oil pizza bianca to flat whites to fishcakes to organic beer. Something for everyone — even cricket cookies (a new locally-produced treat for 2016!) Also held regularly are organized communal cooking events as well as space on offer to cook your own food with camping stoves around the clock. You can save money by heading to the grocery store a 20-minute walk away. You may go to and fro all you want. Hint: They’re actually not trying to rip you off here–a pretty foreign concept to an American at a music festival.
9. You will never appreciate hot showers, real beds, and clean toilets in the same way
Photo by Thomas Rousing
There are hot communal showers offered for cheap (often with a long line to get in) or cold (and I mean COLD) communal showers for free (with little to no line to enter at any time). Treat yourself to a clean toilet for 90c. Even though I showered a few times over the 8 days, you’re really a different person after experiencing that sort of prolonged filth. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but I often thought to myself, there are a lot of normal/straight/clean people here… How are they putting up with it? The festival is just that much fun.
We still don’t have you convinced? There’s no missing out on the odyssey that is the Roskilde Festival, here are our accommodation picks nearby:
Hostel Chic Pick: Danhostel Roskilde
This beautiful wood sided structure perfectly sneaks itself into Roskilde Havn (Harbor) with views opening onto the Roskilde Fjord. As a member of the Danhostel Group, expect standard amenities like a common TV lounge and WiFi while sheets and towels can be brought or borrowed from the front desk for a small fee. Nightly rates can be arranged for a single bed in a shared room (with en-suite) to a completely private room for one to six festivalgoers.
Don’t miss the famous Viking Ship museum and its five 11th century vessels sure to awaken your inner party viking. Access to the Festival itself can be done by catching local bus 204 or 207 to Roskilde Station from which you can catch the festival shuttle for 25kr.
Nearby Hotel Pick: Scandic Roskilde
The Scandic Roskilde is a simple choice for the squeamish festivalgoers with a location just 15 minutes walking from the 9th Street entrance near the Orange Stage. Shack up in a Standard Room with another mate (Two Twins or a Queen) or pack into a Junior Suite (which sleeps up to four partyers and has a separate living room to make sure everyone has their own space).
Best of all, your room rate includes an organic breakfast spread (hello Fairtrade coffee and gluten- and lactose-free options!) An in-hotel tuck shop stocks all the little necessities you may have left back at home or that thirst-quencher you need after a day of concert singalongs. On your final day, why not wake-up early for a detox kickstart in the hotel sauna?
10. If you go, you will have the effing time of your life. I promise.
Photo by Christian Hjorth