Chilling in the park at Stella Polaris

The country’s biggest electronic music chill-out festival, Stella Polaris, has reached a coming of age this year as it celebrates its 15th anniversary and adds two more cities to its line-up. More than 30,000 people made their way to the Copenhagen event last year, and the festival looks set to attract even more people this year, thanks to its inclusion of Odense and Aalborg in the schedule.

First held in Aarhus in 1997, Stella Polaris attracted a meagre showing of just 400 people. The attendance was impressive at the time considering its organisers had dreamt up the idea of throwing an electronic music festival while they were out clubbing just two weeks earlier.

Since its humble beginnings, Stella Polaris has steamed ahead to become an annual fixture on the electronic music scene. Attracting an increasing number of followers each year, it added a Copenhagen version in 2001, and this year, it has expanded once again.

But despite growing at a rapid rate, press officer Kim Fischer says the Stella Polaris crew want to hold onto the same spirit that the festival embodied in its earliest stages. And one of the ways to keep the good vibes flowing is to continue running it as a free event, welcoming anyone from hip urban families – there is a play area to entertain the kids – to university students and groovy grandmas.

“We are the happy amateurs; we just love doing this and it’s just been an evolutionary thing that it has grown like this.  We want to keep the free spirit and keep it as an event for everyone,” Fischer said.

The festival runs thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and through funding from major sponsors. This year, however, if festival-goers want to support the event, they have the option of donating 25kr by sending an SMS with the word ‘Stella’ to 1919.

The growth of Stella Polaris has helped its organisers to secure some high-class acts over the past few years. Moby played a DJ set in 2010 and came back to play a live show last year, and the team are amped  to  have signed Danish band Laid Back to play all four shows this year.

Internationally, the line-up includes eccentric Norwegian duo Röyksopp as one of the stand-outs. The self-proclaimed two-headed monster play down-beat electronica that wraps listeners in warmth. Another offshore act is Chicane from England. Nicholas Bracegirdle, the man behind the name, is responsible for the UK chart-topper ‘Don’t Give Up’, which featured Bryan Adams on vocals. Ben Hoo is another to join the list and considering one of his biggest fans is Moby – Moby commissioned Hoo to remix two songs off his latest album – the London-based producer must be doing something right.

Back on home turf, another Dane set to play is producer Mike Sheridan, who found his feet in the electronic music scene in 2008, when his debut album claimed a spot on the local charts for seven weeks. And DJ duo Lulu Rouge are also a worthy addition. The pair have collaborated on tracks with two of the other acts to appear at Stella Polaris this year: Mikael Simpson and Laid Back.

Stella Polaris
Østre Anlæg (behind Copenhagen’s National Art Gallery); Sun; 12:00-21:00; free admission; see programme for schedules in Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg;

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