Roskilde Music Festival: Scandinavia's Biggest Sustainable Party
It is no secret that Scandinavia is progressive and innovative when it comes to topics like sustainability but the Danes really promote this as a culture. Roskilde Festival is no exception and more than 120,000 annual visitors are educated and encouraged to reuse, recycle, donate unwanted items, eat organic foods and make use of sustainable energy. I did all this and more at the best eight-day party of my life! Having spent many weekends at music festivals across the globe the last day always makes me cringe. Overflowing waste bins, camping debris and everything sent to landfill, as well as the other downfalls like expensive beers and greasy food. This was the music festival culture as I knew it, and it all changed after I formed a spontaneous friendship with a group of Danes whilst on a surfing trip in Portugal. They invited me to join them for what was most definitely the best music festival I have ever been to.
The FestivalRoskilde Festival began in the summer of 1971 and is the largest and most sustainable festival for its size. It is also the biggest festival in Northern Europe and runs every summer in June/ July. The festival has housed many impressive acts over the years. The list is huge but includes the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, Prince, Coldplay, Muse, Metallica, the Prodigy, Eminem, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Marley, U2, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Bruno Mars; and The Weekend. Despite the big names, the not-for-profit organisation that runs the festival promotes a traditional balance of local and international acts of all genres. Awe at acoustics; dance to drum and bass; mosh to metal; reap the reggae; and pop to pop! The famous ‘Orange Stage’, the largest at the festival, allows up and coming acts to perform on the opening night.
The LocationRoskilde is a Danish town located 30km West of Copenhagen and is home to a population of approximately 50,000 people (2016). Easily accessible by train, the town itself boasts cultural and historical significance and is well worth a visit. The town is located on the island of Zealand and is situated on water, making it a perfect place to get to know Denmark’s Viking ancestors. Roskide’s Viking Museum is home to five spectacular ships that date back to the 11th Century and can be explored for a modest fee (after all, this is Denmark). Roskilde’s streets are also lined with beautiful cafes to grab a ‘Høj Snegl med Crème’ (Danish pastry) or a well-deserved Danish Carslberg.
Getting to Roskilde
- Driving – parking is available around the festival entrance points
- Trains run from Copenhagen Central Station
- Buses run from both Copenhagen & Roskilde Stations
- The festival grounds are located 2km from Roskilde Station (I walked but the bus runs every 20 minutes)
- ‘Road Trip to Roskilde’ tickets can be purchased that include transport
What makes Roskilde environmentally friendly & sustainable?Roskilde Festival Charity Society is a not-for-profit organisation that supports sustainability, humanitarian and cultural work and has a well constructed sustainability strategy. Roskilde Festival has a Sustainability Strategy (2016-19) that assures:
- Use of Fossil free energy supplies such as wind and solar power, which power the site
- Ample waste and recycling stations
- Volunteer educators and education stations to promote sustainability
- Festival food must be over 90% organic and locally sourced
- Promotes vegetarian and vegan food options – the festival program states “as much as 40 % of the festival’s CO2footprint comes from the meat eaten here”
- Resource awareness – signs and education booths on using power and water usage, as well as taking care of the environment
- Festival volunteer programs
- Donation program – tents, mattresses, chairs and any other useful unwanted items can be donated at the end of the festival. Donations in 2017/18 are supplied to refugee camps.
Your Festival ItineraryWith almost 80 hectares of campsite area to explore, the site includes a cinema, pharmacy, supermarket, food court and community eating areas, skate park, luggage storage, power stations, craft tents, a laundromat, swimming lakes, shower and toilet blocks, and of course, the stage areas (just to name a few).
- The Naked Run, which runs on the first Saturday of each festival and provides male and female category winners with a free ticket to the following year’s event.
- Skate competitions
- Opening & Closing nights at the Orange Stage
- Your favourite artists!
Day 0 (Roskilde Day -1) – Gather the resources, get there & explore Roskilde!This day is all about gathering what you’ll need and checking out Roskilde town.
- Visit one of the shopping malls in Copenhagen and purchase supplies such as wet weather gear, a good camping chair, ‘Gummistovlar’ (the Danish word for Rain Boots), and of course, a few cartons of beer
- Take the train from KøbenhavnsHovedbanegård to Roskilde
- Explore the town and Viking museum
- Be sure to have your ticket or volunteer pass (volunteers get free tickets but must complete a work roster throughout the festival period)
Day 1 – Claim your posts & explore the areaEach year you can pay an additional fee to be first into the festival. The Scandinavians nickname this event ‘the run’, which is the moment where the gates to Roskilde officially open and everyone bolts for the best camp spot.
- Look at the festival map, app or online guide to find a suitable spot – my camp was situated by one of the lakes and on the edge of the notorious ‘Dream City’, which I highly recommend (quiet enough to get some sleep but still close to the action)
- Check out the facilities, information tents and events
Day 2 & 3 – Get friendly with the neighbours & explore the camp partiesThe Danish have a way of being rather ‘stand-offish’ in public but this goes completely out the window at Roskilde. Everyone mingles like one big happy family so it is really important to get to know the surrounding camps. These are the people you can guarantee will help you home safe from a night out watching the music and will also entertain you during the day. None of the big music acts are ever scheduled in the first 3-4 days to ensure everyone gets settled in.
- Have a camp area theme; you will see why, as many camps have flags, themed tents or banners to help their members and others identify them (my camp members wore silly umbrella hats)
- Start the games…. Centurion and Scandinavian beer ‘bowling’ were the favourites in my camp
- Explore the camp stages, which are stages and speakers set up by individual camps and will be one hell of a party (I almost enjoyed this more than the music days)
- See a movie, find the craft tents, watch the skate events or naked run!
- Stock up on all your beers and food at the local supermarket, located inside the festival grounds (cartons of beer and cider are a similar price to those outside the festival)
Day 4 – 7 Swim, Dance, Eat, Repeat!Now you have your tribe, start your day with a swim in the lake or beautiful organic breakfast from one of the many food outlets (veggie options are more sustainable so be open to these). Explore the schedule in the Roskilde program or mobile phone application. There are hundreds of acts so make sure you’re ready to dance.
- Explore the Orange Stage
- Get to know the local acts
- Use the mobile application to plan your music days
Day 8 – Get your ‘Environmentally Friendly Face’ onYour liver may be hurting and your tent may be flooded (like mine was), but today is a day to dust off your unwanted belongings and donate them to the donation bins and stations around the camp. You can assist to collect rubbish as a volunteer or encourage your camp members to all pitch in and clean up together. Please take all of your rubbish and belongings home if they are not donated.
- Buy a festival pass so you don’t miss out on the action
- Find your tribe
- Be open to all new experiences
- Weather up
- Know the facilities
- Chairs are a must
- Support sustainability by taking your rubbish with you and donating to charity bins
Want to know more?Roskilde Festival Website Festival Dates
- Roskilde Festival 2018 will run 30 June until 7 July
- Roskilde Festival 2019 will run 29 June until 6 July
- Roskilde Festival 2020 will run 27 June until 4 July