Orange you glad it’s festival time again?

Although the main music doesn’t kick off until tomorrow, the party has already been raging for days

It’s that time of the year again. The usually quaint, sedate town of Roskilde has turned into a temporary carnival, bursting with hordes of festival-goers from all over the world who’ve turned up to Northern Europe’s largest music festival. Roskilde is now in its 42nd year and has grown into one of the most respected events on the global festival circuit – and a blueprint for what can be done through good organisation, a fair bit of volunteering and excellent planning.


A complex festival of the size and scale of Roskilde is very much a multi-faceted affair, with numerous dimensions to it. One of the most discussed aspects of Roskilde is life in the camps, which for some is far from an ideal accommodation option. For many though, camp life is a fundamental and fun part of the Roskilde experience.


Chaotic from the word go

The start of the festival is always a hectic affair, as throngs of festival-goers flock en masse to the entrances to queue in long lines to be amongst the first to be allowed into the festival grounds when they open at 6pm on Saturday a full five days before the main musical aspect kicks off.


The early days at Roskilde are always hectic, as festival-goers race to be the first into the festival grounds when the gates open (Photo: Scanpix)Competition for a good camping spot is formidably fierce. For many years, organisers faced the problem of the fence being toppled over many hours before the gates were officially opened, though this challenge has been mitigated somewhat by fence patrols and stiff penalties for anyone caught trying to force entry into the grounds. Once the gates are open, the masses are free to set up their camps as they please. This too is a chaotic affair in which camps are assembled at breakneck speed and the pastoral fields around the village of Kamstrup are transformed into a colourful patchwork of pavilions and tents that will house the festival’s guests in conditions ranging from summer heat to torrential downpours.  Many camps appoint the fittest amongst their ranks to run with as many tents as they can carry and pitch whilst others wait at the gates with large amounts of camping gear, loudspeakers, stocks of alcohol and other festival essentials.


With the camps set up, the party has officially begun and for the five days before the large concerts start, festival-goers are largely left to their own ingenuity and imagination when it comes to keeping themselves entertained. There are, however, numerous activities to keep one occupied around the festival grounds during the warm-up days. This year’s features include:


Fixed Apollo Stage

Last year, Roskilde experimented with a mobile Apollo stage, which wandered from one camping area to another, night after night. This year, the stage has a fixed location (between camping area G and the music area) and will be hosting several acts a day in the lead-up to the main music period.


Maker Space workshop

As an antidote to the ‘if it’s broke, trash it’ culture that tends to underscore the philosophy of numerous Roskilde-goers, Dream City houses a temporary workshop that focuses on reuse and sustainability. Cheap solar cell mobile phone chargers and concrete ‘life-hacking’ advice are but two of the possibilities at the Maker Space workshop.


The Velvet State

A collaboration between performance design geniuses Fiction Pimps and Collective Unconscious, the Velvet State is an interactive art installation that is designed to take one through a vivid journey of different states of mind, in a boundary-pushing experiment that straddles the territory of the dreamy and the unconscious. The Velvet State is one of many art installations at Roskilde – all of which focus on co-creation and enticing the artistic spirits hidden within each and every festival-goer.


The Skate Park / Roskilde West

Roskilde West is the de facto cool location to hang out during the camping period. Home to both the skate park and Game City, this area is a vibrant mix of cultural activities and sports tournaments. Die hard punk rockers Hashbug rested their case for the ‘punk is not dead’ maxim on Sunday at the Skate Park, and with a host of different DJs behind the turntables every night, this is one location that consistently provides entertainment in the days before the big acts take over the festival.


With something for everyone at Roskilde, The Copenhagen Post caught up with some festival attendees for a quick chat about what camp life is all about:


(Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk)Barbara Nino Careras
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Number of Roskilde Festivals attended: First time
Best thing about the festival?
“Definitely the people: they are open. They share, they love. Everyone is free, and there’s a lot of happiness around.”
What is camp life like?
“It’s difficult, but everyone is doing it and is part of the same shared experience, so it sort of balances it all out in the end.”


(Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk)Niv Dayan
Hometown: Copenhagen
Number of Roskilde Festivals attended: Three
Best thing about the festival?
"People are really friendly. The feeling of happiness is just infectious.”
What is camp life like?
“I don’t really like the camp life that much. It’s loud, dirty and pretty grim, so I spend most of my nights at home, but I do have a tent pitched here just in case.”


(Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk)Edoardo Botallico
Hometown: Milan, Italy
Number of Roskilde Festivals attended: Four
Best thing about the festival?
“You become a different person. You lose the facade you have in everyday life which means you connect to other people as one ought to.”  
What is camp life like ?
“It’s very basic and sometimes difficult, but you share the experience with your friends which is very beautiful.”