Wednesday, 29 June 2011 10:08

Roskilde: The happiest city in Europe

Written by Juliane Schmeltzer Dybkjær

Once a year, a large field on the outskirts of Roskilde fills with 110,000 temporary inhabitants, equivalent to becoming the fifth largest city in Denmark. The population density is five times higher than in Shanghai, with most people living in small camps consisting of tents and pavillions. From a distance, you might be led to think that this is a refugee camp - that is, until you hear the music and see the happy faces of people celebrating the fact that they are at one of the largest festivals in Europe. Let me take you on a tour of this remarkable city - one of my favourite places and perhaps one of the happiest cities in Europe! 

The conditions are very basic and might seem scary to some people. Last year, each festival guest had to share a toilet with over 200 people, you live in a tent, you have none of the comforts that you do at home - and let's face it: you'd be lucky to be able to brush your teeth in the morning!

Photo: Juliane Schmeltzer Dybkjær
Slam poetry about the dangers of skin cancer from sun burn, arranged by an NGO

On the other hand, the atmosphere in this city is extraordinary. Police reports show that crime is exceptionally low at this event even though a lot of alcohol is consumed during the festival, and when you walk around the camping area during the warm up days (which generally last until Thursday, when the music starts), you really feel the love between the camps.

One guy came up to me, said "Hey you look nice!", gave me a hug and ran off to catch up with his friends.

People are enjoying the weather (we are very fortunate this year - beautiful sunshine), each other's company, and you can hear music from literally thousands of different camps all around the area. As I was walking through the camping area today, one guy came up to me, said "Hey, you look nice!", gave me a hug and ran off to catch up with his friends. Scandinavians sometimes have a reputation of being reserved - well, if Roskilde Festival is your first visit to Denmark, you would never be able to tell.

During the warm-up days, the camping area is buzzing with activity. That's right - Roskilde Festival is not only about the music; far from it. The skate scene offers shows with some of the best skaters in the world, NGO's are hosting events to raise awareness and interactive exhibitions let you explore your creative side. And that's not all - many people who attend the festival as regular festival goers arrange their own events, which is, for the largest part, warmly welcomed by the festival management. You will hear much more about some of these cool initiatives in later blog posts.

Photo: Juliane Schmeltzer Dybkjær
Skateboard park

Whether you feel like raving during huge nightly events, being cultural and expanding your horizon, drinking cocktails or just enjoying a relaxing day of fun with your camp buddies, you cannot escape the feeling of being in the happiest, if perhaps the most basic city in Europe.

Happy festival everyone! 

Juliane Schmeltzer Dybkjær is an accredited reporter for E&M at Roskilde Festival 2011.

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 11:13

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