At the vanguard of the 21st century festival scene: Parklife!

Inaugural two-day event in the city prospers thanks to a good location and weather, and a little bit of blooming luck

While many of the country’s outdoor music festivals struggle to make ends meet, the new kid on the block, the Vanguard Festival, has hit the ground running with a positive debut that might see it become a solid fixture on the calendar. The festival was held in the idyllic Søndermarken park in Frederiksberg, bordering on the densely-populated urban areas of both Valby and Vesterbro, and the festival’s organisers and park administrators are now discussing the possibility of continuing the event.

“We made a preliminary deal with the park’s administration, which involved the possibility of a five-year extension if the first year went well,” revealed festival organiser Peter Fredsted Jacobsen. “We are currently evaluating how things went with them, but the mood seems to be positive and it seems likely that Vanguard will return.” 

Vanguard sold around 9,000 tickets of its 12,000 allocation – enough to secure its economic survival. Positive criticism has greeted the festival from all sides, with most critics giving the event five or six-star ratings and the public taking to its Facebook page to give it overwhelmingly upbeat feedback.

The positive financial figures come as a bit of a surprise during a time when many of the older, more established festivals are suffering from disappointing bottom lines. Earlier this summer, Politiken posted figures that showed that around one in every five festivals is in debt, and part of that reason seems to be the overwhelming number of festivals in the country. 

Beer is typically a key ingredient in a successful music festival (Photo: Abdellah Ihadian)

Jacobsen believes that the reason for the festival’s success was a mixture of good music and location, location, location.

“We had a great line-up and people responded very positively to the set-up of the festival,” he said. “I have heard that people have been very happy about being able to easily go home from the festival area, and I personally was ecstatic about the venue.” 

But it would also appear that there was a certain degree of luck involved, both with the weather, which helped ensure that the venue was not ripped to shreds by a wild crowd jumping around in torrential rain, and the bookings.  

According to the organisers, these were done in some haste, as they didn’t get the green light to use the park until May. Saturday’s hip-hop line-up, who turned out to be the festival’s biggest hit, were therefore booked according to availability rather than planning. 

“I think I spoke to over 200 artists about playing, but due to scheduling conflicts and lack of time we were having a hard time booking bands, and I think it is amazing that we managed to get such a good line-up given the short amount of time we had,” explained Jacobsen. “It will be fantastic to have longer to plan things next time around.”

It was therefore never the organisers’ intention to make the festival so hip-hop orientated, but following the overwhelming reception, this might end up being Vanguard’s preferred genre of music.

“There is this atmosphere spreading that there should be hip-hop at Vanguard, and obviously it is a thought,” concluded Jacobsen.