Summer Festival Preview | Head north to the south

Why stay in the confines of Denmark when adventures abound abroad – and in most cases closer to home

While it will be difficult to prise most readers away from Denmark’s iconic, internationally acclaimed Roskilde Festival altogether, it may still be of interest to at least listen to what the Swedes have to offer. Sweden is, after all, only 20km across one of the shortest international channels in Europe.

And you’ll be pleased to learn that many of Sweden’s festivals are pretty close to the Öresund Bridge. While there are a handful that call for a little more organisation and a proper road trip, the ones boasting the biggest line-ups and reputations are firmly rooted in the south. 

One for your 2014 diary could be Hultsfred Festival (June 13-15) – located just 40 minutes from central Stockholm – which boasts a star-studded line-up not too dissimilar to Aarhus’s Northside Festival. For those fancying going further north, there’s also Borlange’s Peace & Love Festival (June 25-29) – among the big-guns playing the main stage this year will be Queens of the Stoneage, Depeche Mode and Iggy & The Stooges – and the Norrköping Festival (June 27-29), which is a little beyond the reaches of the south, a good 400km door-to-door.

Below, or should that be above as they are in southern Sweden, is our list of three of the most accessible and attractive festivals just across the Öresund.

For the Experience

Located in the middle of Kalmar County, Emmaboda is a sleepy provincial town of 5,000 inhabitants best known for its annual classic car show. Set in the cinematic scenery of Kalmar’s dense woodland, Emmaboda prides itself on its eclectic line-up of pioneering electronic artists, both established and up-and-coming, aimed at a very niche audience, which explains why only a few thousand turn up each year. At the top of this year’s line-up you’ll find a hub of pioneering electronic musicians including Simian Mobile Disco, Youth Lagoon and Purity Ring – who are all well worth looking up on Spotify and adding to your summer playlist. Something of a rite of passage for younger Swedes – the average age of the festival is between 18 and 21 – Emmaboda has all the trappings that go with a festival experience: late-night gigs, a camping site and that blissful sense of isolation far away from any real civilisation. 

Emmaboda Festival, Vinterbadarna, Rasslebygd; starts July 23, ends July 27; festival pass: 1,100kr;

For the Music

This is Sweden’s most reputable festival. Hosted in the grandiose grounds of Slottsskogen, right at the top of the list of this year’s line-up is Neil Young & Crazy Horse who’ll be the centre-piece on this year’s Flamingo Stage – along with a hatful of other A-listers including The Knife, Cat Power, Azelia Banks, Alicia Keys, Miguel, Beach House, James Blake and Kendrick Lamar. Organised in a similar way to Aarhus’ Northside Festival, the entertainment goes on when the final curtain falls within the festival area during the weekend. When the main festival area closes down a little after midnight stay on for Stay Out West, which features after-hour gigs in clubs and pubs within the walls of the historic city. Budget-wise, given there’s no camping area, this could well break the bank unless you can get your hands on a cheap apartment through AirBnB ( or quickly make friends with a Swede. However, the festival heavily relies on international volunteers. If you’re on a shoestring budget, then simply fill out the two-page application, which is available on the website. This can usually land you a free ticket in exchange for a couple of long shifts flipping burgers. 

Way Out West, Slottsskogen, Gothenburg; starts Aug 8, ends Aug 10; festival pass: 1,700kr;

For the Whole Family
Helsingborg’s festival is extremely close to Copenhagen and ideal for any family fancying a small road-trip to Sweden’s historic coastal city. With about 400,000 people making it every year to the free festival, the gathering has grown into one of Sweden’s largest public events. Concerts pop up in some of the city’s most salubrious venues – including St. Mary’s Church, the town hall and town square – enabling visitors to get a good look around the town while at the festival. There’s also plenty more to occupy families including a flea market, a steam-boat ferry, fairground attractions and all sorts of activities for the kids with the Nikelodeon Stage – the home of the likes of Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer – hosting a bunch of some of the most popular acts on this year’s line-up.
Helsingborgsfestivalen, the whole town of Helsingborg; starts July 25, ends July 27; free adm; 

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