Found within the Sjaelland Region, the municipality of Roskilde is mentioned as one of the richest cultural centers in Denmark. Roskilde is found to the west of Copenhagen, and is a major railroad stop for many trains entering the Danish capital.
To date, there are about 50,000 inhabitants in this municipality. The modes of transport which tourists can use while in Roskilde include trains and buses.
Roskilde Festival – Annual Music Festival
Perhaps one of the most notable events in Roskilde is the annual music festival. It is one of the biggest and grandest in Northern Europe. The Roskilde Festival happens between the months of June and July, and since 1971, hundreds of music artists have performed on stage in front of millions of fans.
Music has been a very important part of every culture. The Roskilde Festival is a music and culture event in south of Roskilde in Denmark that takes place annually.
Traditionally, large, well-known artists, cutting-edge artists from all contemporary genres, popular crowd-pleasing acts plus local Scandinavian headliners and up-and-coming names come to perform on stage. It is said that this festival is Denmark’s first music-oriented festival created for hippies.
This was first held in 1971 and has grown in popularity so more than 80,000 people from all over the world join the event. For most Danes, attending Roskilde has become a rite of passage.
They come here to enjoy a diverse mix of:
- arts and
The festival campsite is about 80 hectares. So long as you have a ticket, you can feel free to set up camp. They have a service center with establishments ranging from food stalls to a cinema. The campsite is divided into agoras that provide toilets, cell phone charging, and luggage storage. It usually opens in the morning prior to the start of the festival.
The Roskilde Festival is run by a non-profit organization so all proceeds from the event go to humanitarian and cultural purposes. Not bad for an event where you can have the time of your life for a good cause. This way, you can let loose and go with the flow guilt-free.
Some of the international artists who participated in previous music festivals include:
- Kanye West
- the Chemical Brothers
- Guns N Roses
Roskilde Festival Threatened By Economic Crisis in 2009
The Roskilde Festival has been threatened by the economic crisis. In 2008 the Danish festival was not sold out with 68,000 paying visitors.
In 2009, the four-day festival that went on from 2nd to 5th July has less than 75,000 visitors. Fearing the loss of more than 10,000 Swedish visitors who may skip the festival because of tighter personal budgets, the Roskilde festival offered cheap bus transport from the neighboring country.
Germany was also historically a big fan of the Roskilde festival. While in 2008 over 15,000 Germans came to the festival, in 2009 Roskilde expected only 3,000 visitors from Germany. German festivals are not only much cheaper, there are now also much more of them.
Performers at the festival include:
- the Pet Shop Boys
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- and Grace Jones
Danish newspaper complained about the low number of international stars and asked why Roskilde could not attract a Bruce Springsteen or Depeche Mode or AC / DC, just like similar British festivals did.
The Roskilde organizers said they tried to book more stars, without success. Due to the economic crisis, international stars perform increasingly only at their own concerts and not in festivals, organizer Rikke Øxner explained.
Øxner was afraid that the festival has not seen the worst yet, and he said: “2010 is likely to be even smaller, and therefore we will have to raise prices again.”
If you want to know what it’s like to be a Viking, then take the family for a tour of the Viking Ship Museum, featuring life-size replicas of water vessels from the Middle Ages.
Visitors can also watch craftsmen build and restore old boats, and the guests in the museum can also try their hand at rowing the boats and setting the sails on the ships. Nearly 40 Viking vessels are on exhibit at this museum. And it has been catering to the curiosity of Roskilde visitors for more than 40 years.
Roskilde History & Less-Known Facts
You may have heard this often being referred to as the location of one of Europe’s largest music festivals. Each year, this place hosts hundreds of thousands of music fans who are eager to see their favorite bands and music artists play and sing live music.
There’s more to Roskilde than just being the venue for this annual music festival for the youth. This town officially known as Roskilde Lejre is an ancient city being discovered more than a thousand years ago. It dates back from the Viking Period and is in fact a member of a network of the Most Ancient European Towns. Perhaps, not many of you even know that this used to be the capital of Denmark from around 960 to 1536.
Being an ancient city, there are naturally old structures worth exploring in Roskilde. One of them is the Roskilde Cathedral which is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage.
Getting to Roskilde is easy. From the Danish capital of Copenhagen, you can take a 30-minute train ride.
Biking around Roskilde & Hiking Routes
While here in this charming city, you can also bike around to explore the natural environment and other wonderful sights. A beautiful regional cycling route to take that is strongly recommended is the Route 40 also known as the Fjord Route spanning 275 kilometers.
This runs along Roskilde’s Fjord and Holbaek and is not only ideal for bikers but even for those who enjoy hiking and kayaking. Those who love historic spots can go for the Kings and Vikings route of 30 kilometers. Couples can also take the romantic cycling route of 10 to 15 kilometers along Fjord and the forest.
Visitors who want to explore the place by foot can take the 64-kilometer hiking route called The Path of the Gods or Gudernes Straede in Danish. This runs from Koge Bugt to the Isefjorden.
Complete Guide to Surviving Roskilde Festival for Tourists
The beginning of the festival season (summertime) is a magical time of year but going to a festival is often intimidating for first-timers. The throngs of people, the sun, the costs of accommodation, and food can all be prohibitive factors.
Popular American festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza, offer visitors a chance to experience wide varieties of music at a low relative cost.
Also, the camaraderie that comes with camping and sharing musical tastes is unmatched. A festival is a right of passage for today’s youth. It is a chance to experiment with music, food, and independent living, if just for a few days.
Europe has its share of fantastic festivals including:
- the transcendent electro-fest Tomorrowland (Belgium)
- the urban island experience of Budapest’s Sziget Sound (Hungary)
- and the radio-friendly Pukkelpop (Belgium)
In fact, almost every major European city has a giant festival during the summer. However, one of the biggest, most accessible, and attractive festivals in Europe flies a bit under the radar.
Denmark’s Roskilde Festival features massive acts, wonderful facilities, and an extremely upbeat vibe. Furthermore, Roskilde Festival keeps that traditional spirit of togetherness and anti-commercialism that many festivals now disregard.
Roskilde Festival began in 1972 as a small student-run experiment at a fairground about 30 minutes outside of the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Plagued by poor management and a true do-it-yourself spirit, Roskilde Festival struggled to attract mainstream attention until the 1980’s.
Buttressed by the purchase of a used stage from the Rolling Stones 1978 tour, Roskilde Festival started to book artists that brought in visitors from outside the “countercultural” scene. This neon orange “Canopy Stage” is now the distinctive symbol of the Roskilde Festival and a central reason for its steady rise to widespread relevance.
In 2014 Roskilde Festival attracted more than 130,000 visitors. Throughout its exponential growth, Roskilde Festival organizers have kept the principles of community, sustainability, and charity intact.
Unlike many of the world’s festivals, Roskilde is still not for profit. The Roskilde Foundation operates the festival with an eye toward giving. That means that every dollar raised by the festival is distributed to Danish charities.
Furthermore, almost all of the people staffing the festival are volunteers putting in their time so they can attend the festival for free. Roskilde also goes one step further by donating human waste for use as fertilizer for growing crops. All the abandoned tents, sleeping bags, and recyclables are distributed to various organizations serving Copenhagen’s homeless.
So if you feel bad about the massive ecological footprint a festival leaves behind, consider Roskilde Festival the best of the best when it comes to sustainability and giving back. As with any festival, the most important part is definitely the music. Lasting eight days, and with nine different stages, Roskilde Festival provides an eclectic mix of classic and cutting edge.
Look no further than 2015 headliners:
- Paul McCartney
- Kendrick Lamar
- Pharrell Williams
- Nicki Minaj
- and Disclosure
Ripped from the radio, and straight from the underground, Roskilde gives its attendees an unmatched mix of hip-hop, rock, pop, local, international, experimental, and timeless. It is another reason the Roskilde Festival is a true experience. People of all ages are interested and entertained. Far from the sea of teens and hipsters other festivals have become, Roskilde brings together old and young to illustrate how small the generation gap can be.
The Real-life Tourist Experience
I arrived at Roskilde Festival alone and apprehensive. I had a small tent, a light sleeping bag, a week’s worth of clothes, my iPhone (with no international service), some cash and a credit card.
I didn’t know anything about the festival (besides who was playing). I bought my ticket at the recommendation of my Danish relatives; it was around $250 US. I rode the train (just 30 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station), which cost me about $7.
After I received my wristband and entered the festival, I headed straight for the first empty campsite I found. It turns out I wandered into the paid camping area, and I stumbled upon a group of friends that have attended Roskilde Festival together for over 10 years.
They helped me assemble my tent and accepted me wholeheartedly into their camp. They were hardened festival veterans who came equipped with a massive battery to charge phones, and power the gigantic campsite boombox. They gave me access to the communal cache of beer and food, and told me hilarious stories from festivals past.
The Danes are friendly & generous
When my credit card stopped working, they fed me and literally kept me alive. I have never felt so completely welcomed by strangers. I can honestly say these were some of the best days of my life. If you’re alone or skeptical of attending a festival in a foreign country, I can tell you Denmark is the place to do it.
The Danes will show you their friendly and generous spirit. Plus, almost everyone speaks perfect English. While my experience was certainly extraordinary, I believe the spirit of the Roskilde Festival goes above and beyond that offered by other similar options.
Everyone is camping on-site, which creates a vibe of equality and community. Most of the people at Roskilde are dirty, tired, and interested in music. There are no VIPs, no posers, and no posturing. Roskilde Festival is a judgment-free zone.
Here are my three tips for surviving Roskilde:
- ditch your worries at the gate
- bring sunscreen
- and be yourself
You will find teens, and octogenarians, mingling amongst the hip-hop heads and head-bangers. Roskilde Festival is not a place people come to look cool on Instagram and Facebook. People come to Roskilde to let loose for a little while and forget about the problems of the real world.
If you are thinking about attending a music festival this summer, I urge you to take a chance on Roskilde. Consider it a crash course in cultural exchange. With classics like Neil Young, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, headlining alongside indie favorites Tame Impala, PJ Harvey and LCD Soundsystem, this festival is in good sonic shape.
There’s still plenty of time to snag a cheap flight, and save up for the reasonable entrance fee of $310 (about $90 cheaper than Coachella and camping comes included!)
The Lejre Experimental Centre
The Lejre Experimental Centre was opened in the mid 1960’s, and serves as an open-air museum that has buildings created in the old Danish style of the 18th and 19th century. Visitors get a chance to experience how daily living was like in the rural area, which is also a site for archeologists and historians to conduct their research.
The Ledreborg Palace and Park have been around for more than 250 years. And is a beautiful work of architecture with a sprawling estate. Visitors are invited to stroll along the grounds, which includes a golf course as well.
Among the main attractions in this colorful city is the Roskilde Domkirke, or Roskilde Cathedral, whose construction began in the 12th century, and was completed in the 15th century.
The building is made of bricks and carries a Gothic design, which influenced the design of other cathedrals in this portion of the country. Danish monarchs are entombed in the cathedral, and sources explain that hundreds of thousands of tourists check out the site every year.
Algade & Skomagergade Streets
Of course, your stay in Roskilde would not be complete if you didn’t get a chance to shop along its streets like Algade and Skomagergade. These store-lined avenues are filled with souvenirs you can purchase, as well as delicious native dishes for you to enjoy.
Cheese products and beer are among the best-selling foodstuffs in Roskilde. In terms of international cuisines, there are also several restaurants in Roskilde with menu selections to tickle your palate.