The Scandinavian region is home to many breath-taking colossal events involving food, markets, music, art, and fashion & design. What’s more, Scandinavian music festivals are some of the greatest in the world, filled with energy, dance, and the magic of the North. Here are the best Nordic music events you won’t regret attending.
Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark
About 30 minutes by train or 40 minutes by car from Copenhagen is the town of Roskilde, which boasts the Viking Ship Museum with five 1,000-year-old Viking ships. But that’s not our interest today. Neither is the fact that it’s the largest rail junction and traffic centre on the Zealand island.
Music and cultural enthusiasts tip their hats to this sleepy town for its annual summer Roskilde Festival. It is the largest yearly music festival in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, lasting eight days and playing host to some 130,000 visitors, 180 spectacular acts, and delicious food.
This festival has seen performances from top-tier celebrities such as Eminem, Taylor Swift, Gorillaz, Bob Dylan, and Pearl Jam. The list is long and only keeps growing every year.
Øya Festival, Oslo, Norway
This event is the largest outdoor festival in Norway. It is held every August on the east side of Oslo at the all-natural Tøyenparken (Tøyen Park), right in the heart of Oslo, the Norwegian capital. About 60,000 attendees are drawn to this unforgettable event, which goes on for four days.
The Øya Festival has brought many heavy hitters and upcoming stars to Oslo, often featuring a line-up of up to 80 artists and bands dominating about five stages.
Organisers of the Øya Festival do not just have a good time in mind but are also trying to save the planet by reducing human impact. They emphasise sustainability and help minimise the carbon footprint through organic food options and about 70% waste recycling.
Way Out West, Gothenburg, Sweden
Every August, the Way Out West festival lights up Gothenburg’s largest park, the 137-hectare Slottsskogen. There are usually five stages, dominated in the past by Cardi B, Stormzy, Patti Smith, St. Vincent, and others.
The music is primarily rock, hip-hop and electronic, playing from morning to night. There are also many secret corners where you can enjoy mouth-watering delicacies and other events such as inspirational talks, debates, and film festivals.
Additionally, the event’s organisers partner with various clubs and venues in Gothenburg to keep the festival running all day and night throughout the city. Former stars of the event include Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Jack Garratt, Regina Spektor, Anne-Marie, Sigrid, Cardi B, and more.
Malmöfestivalen, Malmö, Sweden
Going down in the heart of the country’s third-largest city, Malmö, is the Malmöfestivalen. It is a yearly event that started in 1985 and now boasts many spectacular free activities and a few that require tickets. The event takes place in mid-August and lasts for about one week.
Malmöfestivalen attracts up to 1.5 million visitors who attend to enjoy the region’s culture-rich concerts, street performances, exhibitions, food trucks, and much more.
Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik, Reykjavik
This four-day festival occurs every year in Iceland, Reykjavik. It first took place in 1999 in an aircraft hangar, which it outgrew fast to become Iceland’s largest music celebration, spanning many venues such as museums, churches, record stores, and bars.
Iceland Airwaves is making a comeback after physical attendance was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 in favour of a 2-day live streaming arrangement due to the pandemic. Moving in-person activities online has been a popular trend since the start of the pandemic. For example, gambling enthusiasts, too, had to take up online casinos, while sports fans had to stream their favourite matches at home.
The good news is that Iceland has now lifted COVID-related border restrictions, so we expect the festival’s attendance to bounce right back.
Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland
This festival began in 2004 as a small club event but has since grown into one of the largest, most magnificent music and art boutique events in Europe. It goes down for two days in mid-August every year at Suvilahti, an abandoned power station that’s only a few minutes’ walk from downtown Helsinki.
The festival features varied music genres, including folk and contemporary indie rock, soul, and jazz. Among previous headliners are DJ Koze, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Little Simz, Jamie X, Michael Kiwanuka, Sigrid, Gorillaz, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
Moreover, much like Way Out West, this festival hosts many talks and discussions. The topics range from political and social to cultural progression.
G! Festival, Faroe Islands
Delivering a healthy dose of magical notes in a Faroese-style remote getaway is G! Festival. The three-day event is held yearly in the sparsely-populated seaside town of Syðrugøta in late July before the Ólavsøka, another awe-inspiring summer festival in the Faroe Islands.
G! Festival is the place to go for some time off the beaten track. The stages are established on the beach and football fields within the town, where they mingle with locals’ houses. The sea is lined with ruggedly gorgeous cliffs and provides a small open area with boats.
You can expect art installations, street performances, and, of course, lots of music for your entertainment. Previous appearances include dozens of local stars and outsiders such as Fatboy Slim, Travis, Metronomy, Joe & The Shitboys, Noah Carter, Jamin, Jaeger, and Kannska.
Secret Solstice, Reykjavik, Iceland
The Laugardalur area of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, has been host to Secret Solstice since 2014. This event hit the ground running. It began with some 8,000 attendees, and then the number rose steadily to over 15,000 in 2018. It takes place in late June and goes on for four days.
One great thing about Iceland is its location far North, so you get close to 24 hours of sunlight during summer. The party doesn’t stop! You can expect an extensive line-up of artists and multiple exclusive side events that you don’t see anywhere else. We are talking about things such as lava tunnels and glacier cave raves.
This event is also meant to celebrate Norse mythology and the ancient religion of Asatru, making it that much more mysterious. Moreover, you may camp or rent affordable hostel accommodation in the city.
Maybe it’s the high-spirited Viking blood or the exaggerated winter that makes summers in Scandinavia so lit. Perhaps it’s the worshipped Northern magic that bestows rare gifts such as 22-hour days. Who knows? Whatever the rationalisation, you will never forget a single day at any of the above-mentioned Nordic music festivals.