It’s late June and the summer looms temptingly over the horizon. The air around the town of Roskilde is heavy with the whiff of excitement, expectation and electricity as thousands of people make their way in small packs towards the annual Roskilde Festival, one of northern Europe’s largest cultural gatherings – so big, in fact, that it temporarily transforms the town into Denmark’s fifth-largest city.
For many, Roskilde Festival has become something of an annual pilgrimage, whilst for others, quite a few of whom are still in their teens, Roskilde 2012 will be the first time they participate in the phenomenon that they’ve heard so much about. Old and young, goth or dread, the festival seems to attract them all for ten crazy days of carnival-like escapades, catharsis and music.
At its simplest, the Roskilde Festival is a music festival that manages to attract numerous revered acts from Denmark and the rest of the world, year after year. Scratch beneath the surface though, and you’ll find that there’s a lot more to Roskilde than music alone. This is a festival of numerous facets and features that amalgamate to form the totality of the overall experience, which is no doubt different for each individual at the event.
One of the most talked about topics at the festival is the camping area and the multi-functional purpose it serves as both a temporary shelter and wild party location. Finding a desirable place to pitch camp, and fighting off others with the same intentions, is one of the most important phases of the Roskilde Festival experience – something that’s easier said than done.
To their great credit, the festival organisers have tried to ensure that the race for a camp is as fair as possible by implementing an official opening time before which it is virtually impossible to enter the festival grounds. The new entry system, introduced only last year, has done away with the long-standing tradition of fence-breaking practiced by many festival-goers in previous years. All the same, finding a suitable camp location remains a race, if not a lottery, which is won by only the fittest and slyest ‘runners’, whose job it is to seek out desired camp locations for the rest of those attending with them.
Once the camps have been pitched, those not involved in the queuing-up and camp race usually turn up with the bulky baggage and camp gear and proceed to turn what was once a field with green grass into a makeshift humble abode. Many camps are equipped with bare necessities such as a pavilion tent and a sound system of some sort, whilst others are more elaborate, featuring everything from inflated sex dolls to mini jacuzzis and crates of pricey champagne.
The Copenhagen Post team rolled up at Roskilde and have been partying it up at different locations around the camping grounds since Saturday. We also had a chat with a handful of the many guests in an effort to discover what they like best about the festival. Read on for the best of the action so far:
Euro 2012 final: Sunday night at the big screen by the park Skate in West
Skater or not, the park Skate near the West end of the festival camping grounds has traditionally been one of the coolest zones to hang out. Footy fans got treated to Spain’s 4-0 drubbing of Italy in the Euro 2012 final, courtesy of a large screen placed high above the half-pipes and bowls.
Fancy Dress Flashmob: Monday afternoon, Camping Area K by the lake
Imagine donning your best suit, downing several Carlsbergs and then taking a dip, with the coolest sophistication and calmness, in Roskilde’s swimming lake. The scene was no figment of the imagination on Monday afternoon, as one smartly-clad partisan after another shattered conformity and took to the water in tuxedos and ballroom dresses. The action even featured an orchestra who strummed out Mozart and Beethoven to complete the atmosphere. No instruments were harmed during the process. There were plenty of ruined tuxedos though.
Raske Penge: Sunday evening at Pavilion Junior
Raske Penge, Eaggerstun and Shaka Loveless are three artists whose music is getting the most airplay in the camping areas. Nørrebro-based Raske Penge gave Roskilde’s guests an enticing preview of what to expect from the rest of the festival with a formidable performance at Pavilion Junior, an arena that has played host to numerous Danish bands in their infancy. With Pavilion Junior crammed to the brim on Monday, it’s safe to say Raske Penge could easily have filled one of Roskilde’s bigger stages.
Dream City: Camping Area P
Dream City is a sustainable approach to camping at the Roskilde Festival, allowing campers to design themselves a home of sorts with their neighbouring camps. Coupled with a wellness centre and a strict tidy-up after yourself policy, Dream City seems to be a very fun, user-driven initiative, which, combined with the other themed camping areas (Swim City, Poor City, Art City, Green City, Street City and Game City), makes for an interesting additional component to this year’s event.