Roskilde Festival

June 29, 2008: Germany to Denmark

So, we left Hamburg at a ridiculously early hour to take a train to Copenhagen, Denmark. The one interesting part of that ride was that you must cross over a body of water to get into Denmark. The two car train actually pulled into a loading dock of a ferry and we had to get off the train and stay on the above decks for about half an hour, while the ferry took our us (and our train) into Denmark. Then we hopped back into our train car, the train drove out of the ferry and we were back on the tracks.

Gena, Merlin and Matt all met us at the station. In case you don’t know, they are some of our best friends from the UK (and Gena is Kelly’s best friend from Key West who lives in Europe: Refer to Blog Archives November through March) They all flew in from England to meet us and go to the festival.

We all caught a train from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, to the small town of Roskilde. That is where the Roskilde Music Festival was being held. We were really excited to be there because we were about half way through with our four month trip and this festival gave us 8 days of staying in one place, a break from sightseeing and tourist attractions, and a chance to catch up with our friends, not to mention some amazing bands were going to be performing.

Gena, Merlin and Kelly sitting at the station, waiting for the train

All three of our friends had been to the festival, 2 years before, so when we got to the front gates, they knew just where to go to find the cleanest and nicest part of the camping area (which also happened to be a very very long walk with all of our gear)
The camping area had only opened at 7am that day, but by 3:00pm it had already turned into a miniature city of tents and plastic gazebos. This year, they expected between 60-100,000 people to be there!

yep, those are all tents behind me!

This is how it works: There are 8 nights of camping, and events are going on all week long, like movie screenings, dance parties, and art happenings. The music doesn’t start until the fifth day, but then it is nonstop from 11am until 3 or 4 in the morning. The festival is held on acres and acres of fields, which basically turn into a temporary town, offering several grocery and supply stores, food from all over the world, and even free internet.

While Manly Matt and Merlin set up our tents (Merlin was kind enough to bring one for us!) Gena, Kelly and I (yes Ellie is writing this one, just so you don’t think Kelly is starting to talk in 3rd person) we went to the camp store to buy supplies like a gazebo to sit under, a tarp to sit on, some rubber rain boots (just in case. It’s been called the muddiest festival in Europe) and, of course, a case of beer (sorry, this entry might contain even more drinking than previous posts)

Gena and Ellie with her new rubber boots

merlin and gena’s tent

the tent merlin let us borrow

our finished campsite!

Matt starting off the afternoon with his first beer shotgun

Kelly and Matt


The first night, we hung out in our great little campsite and got dinner at the closest stand, which was pizza and hamburgers. Kelly and I got really excited because the hamburger stand sold really cheap vegetarian burgers, but were really disappointed when we found out why they were so much cheaper than the real stuff. Their idea of a vegetarian burger was a bun with lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a slice of cucumber. We took it back because we thought maybe they forgot the veggie patty, but actually they had never even heard of a veggie patty. So we dropped it and got a cheese pizza instead. We all went to bed early, around 10:30. The weird part about Scandinavia is that it is so far north, that during the summer it is only dark for a few hours each night. It was still bright out when we fell asleep. The sun dips below the horizon around 11 or 12:00 and then pops right back up around 3 or 4am!

this is around 11:30pm!

Over the next few days we had a lot of fun not doing much.

We made a big trip into the actual town of Roskilde to go to the grocery store to get breakfast and lunch supplies cheaper than at the festival site and some spirits, particularly this bottle of tequila that came with a hat on the lid. (which I think is the main reason we selected it)

kelly wore it the remainder of the festival…

We met our neighboring campers from Norway and some locals from Denmark on the other side. Most people we met were surprised we had heard about the festival, even though it is the second largest in Europe. Most of the kids there were from Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and even Iceland, but they all speak perfect Englsih and we had no problems starting conversations. There were a few guys staying near us that had American sounding accents, but they were actually from the Bahamas. We walked around and saw a lot of people had been naming their campsites, so we somehow came up with one for ours: CAMP DANDELION
Luckily we were able to maintain a clean camp the whole time. Some people trashed their campsites in the first couple days.


not ours (thankfully)

The whole experience was really cool. We ate some great food while we were there, like amazing vegetarian chili, african food, and super falafels. We swam in a near by lake (which did underwater music sessions) and we bathed outdoors (with swim suits on) with our seaweed shampoo in a bar and Gena and Merlin’s cooking pot to pour the icy water over our heads.

There were these weird trough things which we could get fresh, drinkable water to wash our hands and brush our teeth. Also, the only toilets were portable ones, which were surprisingly not too bad. There was almost always toilet paper and hand sanitizer and some one came in and washed and emptied them each morning. That still didn’t stop most guys (and some girls) from using the more convenient option, the fence.

We also found out that if we returned any empty beer cans that we would get a small refund of about 1 Danish Kroner per can (it takes about 5 DKK to equal 1 USD)so not only did we save all of our cans, but we went around with a bag and collected a couple hundred more that were discarded all over the ground. When we cashed in, we got a large enough refund to buy a case of 24 beers plus a few pints.

doing some collecting

The day before the music started, Jemma arrives (Matt, Merlin and Gena’s other roommate from university) We were excited to welcome another friend to Camp Dandelion.

On July 3rd, the music started, so a whole new section of the festival grounds opened up, with 8 stages, all different sizes. There were over 80 acts that were going to be showing, and obviously, there was no way we were going to see them all. Since we had time to look at our program of events, we were able to narrow down which bands to see and make a game plan to make the most out of the music.

A lot of the times, we would all split up to see different bands, and then reconvene to see a concert together. Over all we saw about 20 concerts in those 4 days. I’ll give you the highlights:

this is the Orange stage, the largest one with the most high profile acts

this is the arena, probably the 2nd largest venue

The Gossip: An amazing show with a lot of energy. During the last song, Beth Ditto the lead singer, came into the crowd and grabbed my face and sang directly at me!

Kings of Leon

CocoRosie: two sisters with beautiful voices, and an ridiculously good beatboxer

Likke Li: a singer from Sweden who had such a fun show

Chemical Brothers: we saw these DJs on one of the latest nights we stayed out, they performed on the main stage (which was HUGE) and had an incredible visual display.

Jay Z: one of the funnest concerts, because we all knew all the songs from growing up with him on the radio. Plus, we waited in line and were able to get to the very front, right next to the stage. It was kind of surreal.

We also saw performers like Gnarles Barkley, Band of Horses, Duffy, Kate Nash, Goldfrapp, The Dø (a Norwegian band I love) and others.

We still had some time for a little down time, too, while the music was playing. Believe it or not. We played some giant Jenga and hung out in the posh Jack Daniels designated relaxing area.

At the end, we never ended up needing our rain boots. It never got rainy except for the final concert, Jay Z, where it poured! We were so far north, but for the most part, it was hot and dry and felt just like summer anywhere else.

the aftermath as people began to leave on the last morning

On our last day, we packed up our tents and we all took the train back to Copenhagen. Our friends had a few hours before catching their flight back to the UK, so we did a little window shopping, ate a nice proper meal and ended up having hot chocolate at a cafe that gave you pillows and blankets and overlooked a square where a live jazz band was performing. We said our goodbyes as they headed for the airport, and we headed just a few blocks away to stay with a new couchsurfing host for a few days in Copenhagen.

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