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Roskilde Festival: The orange feeling

As the epicentre for Danish and international music, art and culture, Roskilde Festival is Northern Europe’s largest festival. Every year the festival demonstrates how experimentation, volunteer work and strong values of sustainability and equality can come together to create a space where even crowd-control is based on trust.

The festival has donated over 54 mio. euros to cultural and charitable purposes over the years.

Roskilde Festival is an amalgam of music, art, food, community and sustainability projects. And a very concrete job of building what constitutes Denmark’s fourth largest city and dismantling it again once a year. One of the next big themes for us will be circularity.

Christina Bilde, Head of Corporate Communications, Roskilde Festival

Image: Jens Dige

Image: Christian Hjorth

Roskilde Festival as a test lab for green solutions

From the end of June into the first week of July, Roskilde Festival constitutes Denmark’s fourth largest city, which is established and taken down again every year. It is an experimental space for art, sustainability, cultural projects, new ways of creating community and addressing societal issues. A free space where young people explore new perspectives based on art and creativity. And a real-time innovation lab for testing out new products and ideas.

Volt mobile charging, a successful start-up that emerged from the partnership between Roskilde Festival and the Danish University of Technology (DTU). Image: Henrik Arum

31.000 voluteers are working at Roskilde festival during the festival week. Image: Preston Drake

Roskilde Festival has for years had a cooperation with DTU (The Technical University of Denmark) talented teams of students develop new and sustainable solutions and test them in the rough environment that a festival is. This has led to several successful start-ups and products such as DropBucket, making more sustainable waste management Volt mobile charging and PeeFence waterless urinals which have all grown out of Roskilde Festival. It demonstrates the festivals’ role as an experimental space where youth culture and sustainability issues mix and through creativity results in new products and businesses as well as a heightened awareness around the issues and an idea of creating something, not solely for one’s own sake, but for the sake of the community and the environment.

Image: Christian Hjorth

Other examples of sustainability-oriented experimental cooperation projects at Roskilde Festival:

  • Collaboration project with Carlsberg Breweries on a ‘circular lab’ to develop new circular solutions to reduce waste and promote recycling.
  • Dream City: a designated area where young people ‘can bring anything they want and build anything they want – as long as they take everything with them again’ and that what they build circles around community and sustainability.

Edward Snowden live at Roskilde Festival during the 'Rising City' project in 2016. Image: Kim Matthai Leland

The crowd gathers to watch Edward Snowden at Roskilde Festival. Image: Kim Matthai Leland

Roskilde Festival over the past five decades.

Christina Bilde

Head of Corporate Communications, Roskilde Festival

From your point of view, how is creativity changing and improving the quality of life in Denmark?

Roskilde Festival is there a week every year: it constitutes a pause from the day to day norms and performance demands. It is a formative experience for a lot of young people. In a lot of cases the festival is their first defining encounter with art and culture that just blows them away. I am fascinated by the way they let themselves go, and dive into a lot of things they are not normally occupied with: music, art, sustainability and community. We know, that the sense of community at the festival is incredibly strong. And that art and creativity is an important part of that. I think that to nurture creativity, we have to create spaces where creativity can flourish. And Roskilde Festival is such a space.

What role does digitalisation play in your industry?

We regard digitalization as an important tool for creating a better festival experience and for enhancing sustainability. But we are also cautious and critical about the amassing of data. In 2019 we introduced a chip wristband which provides a whole new level of possibilities for tracking the movement of festival goers. This allows us to plan both infrastructure and safety even better. The digital wristband also allows us to make the festival experience much more convenient in terms of payment, sharing of memories and establishing digital communities. At the same time, we are critical. In 2016 we did a project with Edward Snowden and artist collective The Yes Men to heighten awareness around the positive and negative sides of digitalization.

Where do you learn from other creative industries?

Roskilde Festival is an amalgam of music, art, food, community and sustainability projects. And a very concrete job of building what constitutes Denmark’s fourth largest city and dismantling it again once a year. Within that space we run into all kinds of issues and opportunities big and small, and we need to cooperate to make the best of them. It is all aspects of all disciplines we need to work with: IT Infrastructure, plumbing, architecture, waste management, security. One of the next big themes for us will be circularity: to create more circular patterns of consumption. We hope that what we develop in our context can be inspiring for others.

Dream City - a designated area at the festival where young people can build anything they want, as long as it circles around community and sustainability. Image: Preston Drake

About Roskilde Festival

Roskilde Festival is Northern Europe’s largest festival. It is an epicentre for Danish and international music, art and culture. The festival demonstrates how experimentation, volunteer work and strong values of sustainability and equality can come together to create a space where even crowd-control is based on trust. In that way, it is a microcosmos of what Danish creative culture is all about. Most of the manpower is supplied by volunteers and the profits are donated to culture and charities. This creates a special atmosphere and makes for a very unique festival experience for festivalgoers, volunteers and artists alike.

Listen to the Orange Podcast by Roskilde Festival (in Danish)

Fun Facts about Roskilde Festival

  • The festival's iconic main stage, known for its characteristic shape and orange colour that has come to symbolise the festival.
  • Capacity about 60,000.
  • The original Orange Stage was first used in 1978. The current version is from 2001 and roughly 33 % bigger than the original.
  • The original tent was designed for The Rolling Stones' summer tour in 1976 after which the festival bought it in 1978. This means the Orange Stage celebrates its 41st birthday this year.
  • The canopy weighs 3.5 tonnes. It's 67 metres wide, 43 metres deep and 20 metres tall. The front arch is 32 metres wide.
  • It takes two weeks for about 120 volunteers to build the Orange Stage area. It takes four days to take it down.
  • 50

    Years of Roskilde Festival since 1971

  • 54

    Mio. euro donated to cultural and charitable purposes

  • 24

    average age of festival goers

Case contributor

Go to Roskilde Festival's website

Photo credit: Kim Matthäi Leland, Preston Drake, Joakim Züger, Stiig Hougesen, Simon Frøsig Christensen, Christian Hjorth

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