Roskilde Festival is one of the largest fests in Europe, with 80,000 full camping tickets, 20,000 single day tickets per day, and 30,000 volunteers. That’s a total of 130,000 people at the festival at any one given time. This makes the small town of Roskilde just outside Copenhagen, Denmark’s 4th most populous city for 8 days a year. Yes, the festival is eight days long including two weekends. The first four consists of music on three small warm-up stages and a lot of parties throughout the festival’s huge camping site. On day five, the festival’s arena opens, and with it the five large main stages. The music at Roskilde is possibly the most diverse of any festival, with 183 bands filling the schedule, covering every genre you could wish for. With most of the music being packed into the final four days, the organizers have staggered the schedule so well, that not only is there hardly any running between stages for music fans, there is normally time to grab a beer on the way!
Roskilde Festival has been non-profit since 1972. The money that it earns in profit is donated to good causes around the world. Last year’s profit was around 2.6 million dollars. The festival also prides itself on sustainability. It vows to leave nothing behind after the 8 days are over. All 30,000 of the volunteer’s wristbands are made from recycled plastic and they even collect any usable camping gear left behind to be sent to refugee camps. That includes 4,530 tents, 2,400 sleeping bags and 2,350 blankets.
The atmosphere around the festival is like nothing I have felt at any other festivals. The best way to describe it would be unconditional posititity. An even better way of describing it is “the orange feeling”. I think this “orange feeling” comes from the fact that Roskilde is a very social festival — four days without any major music means that you and your friends will head off around the campsite in search of a party. I once found myself in ‘Dream City’ (around 2.5km from my tent) partying in front of a homemade DJ deck on wheels with two speaker towers that were powered by car batteries surrounded but at least 100 people I had never met. These homemade boom-boxes on wheels are very common at Roskilde. Almost every camp has one and this makes walking through the campsites quite amusing since you can walk from the dirtiest dubstep to ABBA to crazy Danish rap all in the space of about 15 paces. Carrying on the festival’s social theme, a small chunk of the volunteers are social workers. These are people who wander around the campsites in groups of three with the sole purpose of being someone to talk to if you need them. This was something that really impressed me, and that I have never seen anywhere else.
So in summary, the music is awesome for everyone, the atmosphere is better than anywhere else and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment as well. So take my word for it, Roskilde festival will be the best week of your year. I guarantee it!
Writing and Photos by Matt Marsh, see more at his website: Matt Marsh Media