A party-tsunami in Copenhagen

The music festival that engulfs the streets of Denmark’s capital

Distortion music festival in Copenhagen. Photo: Gareth Johnson

Travelling can sometimes be a bit of a lottery. There have been countless occasions when, despite my best attempts at planning, I have ‘just missed’ the amazing experience that I had travelled halfway around the world for: ‘Normally at this time of year you can swim with dolphins here — they must be somewhere else this week.’ ‘You can usually pick wild berries in these fields but the season has just ended.’ ‘This waterfall is really spectacular but we haven’t had enough rain recently.’

‘On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji from here — it’s a shame it’s so cloudy today.’

Conversely, you can occasionally fluke being in the right place, at the right time, and be part of something that you hadn’t expected and new nothing about.

I’d travelled to Denmark to do a bit of exploring — I wanted to head north of Copenhagen to check out Kronborg castle in Helsingør, (the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet) and also the North Sealand region which offers lots of outdoor adventure and activity options.

As I was checking-in to my hotel for a quick stopover in Copenhagen, the friendly receptionist explained how she had taken the next day off work for the opening party of Distortion.

Her enthusiasm and excitement had me intrigued — Distortion is an annual festival that celebrates dance music and club culture.
 What makes the four-day Distortion festival a bit unique is that it moves around the city, each day taking over a different neighbourhood for massive street party. It’s described as a ‘party-tsunami’, a rolling wave of music and dancing that progressively engulfs the city.

I changed my plans.

The opening night was in Nørrebro — the coolest area in Copenhagen. I borrowed a bicycle from my hotel and cycled from Vesterbro along the lakes. At Nørrebrogade bridge I had to park the bike as it was impossible to get any further — it was about 7PM and the bridge was rammed with people and the music was pumping. This was a young crowd, a lot of students, and there was a general ‘hipster’ vibe. Everyone enjoying the evening sunshine, everyone drinking.

I grabbed a six-pack of beers from one of the temporary bars and pushed on through the crowd. There was music and people everywhere — DJs set up on street corners, guys cycling around with massive sound systems, a giant mirror ball suspended on a crane above the street.

The atmosphere was incredible.

At 10PM the music shut down and the neighbourhood slowly began to return to normal.

I freakin’ love Copenhagen.

Three festivals in Europe not to be missed

One of the great things about travelling around Europe is that nowhere is really that far away — you can grab a cheap flight deal or jump on the Eurostar from Paris to London without too much effort and totally blowing your budget.

This is particularly important if you are taking a couple of days off work to check out some of the summer festivals that seem to get better and better every year. Name a cool city in Europe and they probably have a decent music festival.

In this article we check out three that we reckon should not be missed.

Sonar Festival in Barcelona

The Spanish know how to throw a party, and Barcelona is Spain’s beach-side party town. The Sonar festival began in 1994 and it is a three-day dance music celebration. This is a huge festival, drawing music lovers from across Europe and the world. It’s estimated that around 100,000 come to Barcelona for Sonar each year.

The best way to get to Barcelona is to fly — there’s lots of budget airlines so prices should be fairly competitive.

Glastonbury Festival in England

Glastonbury is one of the world’s most iconic music festivals and continues to be extraordinarily popular — both with musicians who want to perform there and music loves who want to experience the magic first hand. It can be a bit of a mission to get to, so plan your logistics well in advance. Of course the biggest challenge is getting a ticket.

Distortion Festival in Copenhagen

The Distortion festival is an annual dance music festival held every summer in the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen is well served by flights and there are lots of accommodation options, so it’s all fairly easy to do from a logistics perspective. Distortion is an outdoor festival that takes over the streets of the city. Each day the festival moves into a different neighbourhood — shutting down roads, setting up stages, erecting bars and food stalls. You don’t have to buy tickets or a get a special pass, just rock up, grab a six pack of beers from one of the street vendors and kick back in the sunshine to drink and dance with the young and the cool of Copenhagen.

Time to save your pennies, buy your tickets, and book your flights. Maybe you won’t be able to do them all, maybe you’ll need to pick the ones that have the artists that you love, or are in a city that you haven’t been to yet, whatever your criteria, get planning now. This summer there is a world of festivals across Europe waiting for you to get your groove on.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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