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Rocking Out At Roskilde, Denmark

Daniel van der Noon checks out one of Europe's great festivals

Written by . Published on July 24th 2011.

Rocking Out At Roskilde, Denmark

In the latest of our series checking out Europe’s coolest music festivals, Daniel van der Noon rocks out at Roskilde in Denmark

COPENHAGEN is Scandinavia’s epicentre of cool, combining an unrivaled night-life and some of the finest cafes, restaurants and bars on the continent with plenty of invigorating green space.

There is no better happening  place to be in the northern hemisphere throughout the summer. That’s except perhaps between the dates June 26 through to July 3 when the city is drained of much of its youthful vibrance and panache with only push-chairs, snap-happy tourists and the elderly on a daily-outing to the supermarket populating the walkways.

During this period thousands of young Copenhageners migrate to Roskilde (population 50,000) just a 30-minute train-hop north of the capital for the annual music festival. It’s a week that has been circled in thick red marker for most Danes aged around 23 since the year prior. 

Skatepark At RosskildeSkatepark At RosskildeWith the number of Roskilde Festival visitors from outside Scandinavia plummeting every year, the few Brits that I encountered were made to feel as intrepid as a Pacific Islander basking in the arctic tundra. Consequently this an experience far less predictable that that which you’ll encounter at, say, V-Festival. It lasts an amazing eight days, populated by some 130,000 hedonists.

Once the gate opens, they flood through to their partisan bases – ‘Camp Roskilde Open’, ‘Baywatch Boy Camp,’ and ‘Camp Crazy Legs,’ erecting their flimsy camouflaged one-man tents, and turning up their ghetto-blasters to 11 while dancing in polkadot swim-suits and the like. Bliss. Cheap imported German pilsener stokes up the Dionysiac atmosphere of anything could happen.

Around the next corner could be a troop of scantily clad Swedes, an army of Starship Troopers guzzling down cider through their headgear or a homemade sound system resting in a custom-made wheelbarrow blurting out anything from Ram Jam’s one-hit-wonder ‘Black Betty’ through to Beethoven’s Ninth.

Roskilde Under A Grey SkyRoskilde undera grey skyMusical highlights? The emerging Danish electro outfit Reptile & Retard, Magnetic Man, the likes of Kurt Vile and The Foals. The big guns also turned out with M.I.A. going to far to invite a select fanfare from the audience up on stage, Danish rock-duo The Raveonettes – in spite of sound difficulties – warding in cheers from their Scandinavian fan-base, and a now-aging Iron Maiden laying down the law to one of the biggest audiences seen at this year’s Roskilde.   

One clear highlight, however, was Arctic Monkey’s stellar debut Orange Stage performance. Foreshadowed by a looming storm, with bouts of electrical charge racing across the darkening skies, their finisher, Brick By Brick was a spectacle to behold.

With an estimated 14mm of rain reported to have fallen in just 30 minutes following the final chord, a mass exodus ensued and drenched campers could be seen dodging their way through the crowds with their saturated belongings fearing a repeat of Roskilde 2007, one of the wettest festivals in its 40-year history.

Rosklde - Refreshment At HandRosklde - refreshment at handOnce the downpour had dissipated ,The Strokes made an emphatic entrance performing an astounding 75-minute set. Sunday headliners King of Leon played a stomping greatest hits set and other class acts included Surfer Blood and The Walkmen.

One the greatest festivals in Europe, if not the world, Roskilde has once again graced the Danish summertime. Also, as a non-profit organization – with its onus on raising money for charitable organizations – it is expected to have pulled in some £1.2 million.


Fact file

There is a wide choice of flights rom the UK to Copenhagen. Daniel flew from Gatwick, £100 return with easyJet. On arrival it’s a short hop from Copenhagen Airport to the central train station (£4 approx.) and then a 25 minute train to Roskilde Central (£7 approx.).

Tickets for the festival cost £210 inc. 8-day camping (catch the early bird now and get yourself a swift discount for Roskilde 2012 by visiting www.roskilde-festival.dk).

But remember Debmark is not cheap. The official Roskilde website has estimated that the average guest spends a whopping £555 over the 8-day period!


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