Your August Trip Planner. Ten Cultural Festivals in Scandinavia
Ilustrations: Sabīne Moore
One way to spend summer is to travel from festival to festival, and the nearby region of Scandinavia has quite a spectrum on offer this year. Here we have selected ten cultural festivals taking place in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Tampere, and even Tallinn, which is always reaching out towards its northern sister-countries. A classical music festival on an island, modern-day popular music at a former power station, theatrical plays, performances, circuses, and art – in urban skate-parks and metro tunnels, on roofs and terraces, and in squares. The following festivals are listed in chronological order.
Metropolis Festival 2013 Copenhagen, Denmark 1 – 30 August, 2013
Throughout the month of August, and for the fourth time now, the theater- and performance art-based Metropolis Festival will be held in the urban environment of Copenhagen. The Festival will open with a performance consisting of 70,000 concrete blocks arranged in a line that is 3 kilometers long. After the first half-hour, the huge “dominoes” will begin to fall in a chain reaction – and the Festival will have started. 85 artists and 13 performances are scheduled this year.
Trailerpark Festival 2013 Copenhagen, Denmark 1 – 3 August, 2013
For the three days of the Trailerpark Festival, Copenhagen's skate-park (Nørre Voldgade 18) becomes a playground on three stages for artists, illustrators, crazy musicians and just regular hipsters. The organizers of the festival are the atmospheric core known as ArtRebels; they call themselves a company, a brand and a movement – all in one. In short, it's a life-style that includes blogs, an art and music festival, and an on-line shop selling the creations of various artists and illustrators; there's also the “Penguin Army”, a virtual commune of young people trying their best to combat global warming. This year's Trailerpark Festival has marked out its “friends” in Copenhagen, i.e., shops and cafes – a list that also serves as a good guide for those who wish to embrace the life-style of the ArtRebels.
Tampere Theater Festival 2013 Tampere, Finland 5 - 11 August, 2013
A look at the theater festival category reveals that the Tampere Festival, established in 1969, is the oldest such festival in the Nordic countries. It's most attractive feature is the chance that it provides for festival-goers to acquaint themselves with the newest and most powerful productions created in Finish theater, and it offers a truly wide spectrum of ideas – from performance art to performances that have emerged from sound art; from publicly acclaimed hits, such as the Finnish documentary theater company Rhymäteatteri'sproduction of “Parliament II – Finland of Fraternities”, which premiered this summer and is the second part of a hugely popular study of Finnish reality that was first shown in 2011 – to Finland's best children's theater production – “White”. Other professionally-awarded productions featured at the Tampere Festival include The Finish National Theater's production of “The Patriarch”, and “Night Mother”, as performed by Teatteri Jurkka, deemedFinland's “Best Theater Company of the Year”.
The Festival also provides a look into the theater of other European countries besides Finland, with guests from Hungary, Italy, the UK, Sweden and Latvia taking part this year. One of the most interesting performances promises to be Swedish playwright August Strindberg's study of the war between the sexes, “Mies Julie”, the setting of which has been transposed to modern-day South Africa. This production has received the highest possible rating – five stars – from Britain's most respectable newspapers, The Times and The Guardian. As vitally recharging as ever is the new Swedish circus Cirkus Cirkö, which this year will be performing their latest act, titled “Knitting Peace”.
The Tempere Festival takes place not only indoors, but also out in the open, while tents, pubs and city parks and squares invite people to either continue the discussions, or just simply hang out in a friendly atmosphere.
Flow Festival Helsinki, Finland 7 – 11 August, 2013
Leave the kids at home for this one – Helsinki's art and music festival Flow, which will take place for the tenth time this year in a one-time power station, has an only-over-18 age restriction. In terms of musical tastes, the Festival can be likened to Latvia's Positivus, but with a much larger program. The Knife, Alica Keys, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Kraftwerk 3D Show and Beach House are just some of the slew of Finish and international acts performing this year. Side events featuring the visual arts, fashion, design and cuisine, as well as the film program Future Shorts, are like frosting on the cake. A clothing line based on the festival has been created by the label R/H this year, available in limited supply beginning 5 July.
STRØM Electronic Music Festival Copenhagen, Denmark 12 – 18 August, 2013
STRØM – a week-long electronic music festival held in the urban environment of Copenhagen, both indoors and out – is one of the leading festivals of its kind in Scandinavia. Its events take place in movie theaters, churches, metro stations, clubs, parks and on two stages in the Vesterbro neighborhood. The word “STRØM” means electricity, and here you'll hear the “hottest”, as well as already-iconic, masters of electronic music. On 13 August you can take a ride through the city's underground tunnels with the Trans Metro Express, in which Danish and Japanese artists will play live music specially written for the metro. The Festival's opening concert, “Panorama”, promises to be impressive; it will be held in the Tietgenkollegiet student dormitories, its unique 360-degree architecture (which won a RIBA European Award) serving as the stage. The young and talented composer of electronic music, Mike Sheridan (1991), will stand in the center of the circular courtyard and conduct the youth orchestra spread out among the dormitory's windows, while the audience will find themselves in the center of it all.
Stockholm's Kulturfestival 2013 Stockholm, Sweden 13 – 18 August, 2013
For six days the streets and squares of downtown Stockholm become a cultural cocktail suited to cultural aficionados of any generation, and almost everything is for free! Out the program of 600 events, everyone can find something just for them – be it American disco legends, a trip through the music of Bollywood films, or the best of Swedish punk rock. On the main stage, three Swedish artists will reenact a concert by the legendary New York rock group The Velvet Underground (portraying Lou Reed, Nico and the group's manager – Andy Warhol). One of the most popular events of the Festival are the themed walking tours – with themes such as the Swedish pop-group ABBA, or hidden urban gardens; these are, however, one of the few events that require tickets. 18 August in Stockholm is Literature Day, when Drottninggatan Street becomes a mecca for book-lovers through its transformation into the world's longest book-stand. And on the terrace of the Kulturhuset, open-air film nights will be held in the middle of its surrounding arc of bars and restaurants.
Malmö Festival 2013 Malmö Sweden 16 – 23 August, 2013
Established in 1985 and with the visitor-count topping 1.4 million last year, this is the biggest cultural festival in Scandinavia – and it has some serious clout. The organizers of the Malmö Festival describe it as “friendly and warm”. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that all events are free, but most of the information aimed at potential visitors that can be found on social sites and on the official webpage is in Swedish. Along with art and music, food is also a big selling point for the festival, offering up a true multi-cultural flavor experience.
Helsinki Festival 2013 Helsinki, Finland 16 August – 1 September, 2013
The Helsinki Festival program is made up of theater, dance, circuses, classical music concerts and jazz, its performers a healthy mix of internationally renown artists and local stars showing their newest acts. For several years now, the circus medium has been an especially strong and multi-layered visual and physical presence at the Festival. One of this year's festival-magnets is the circus superstar James Thiérrée, who plays the role of acrobat, comedian, poet and wizard in his surreal performances; here he will be presenting his show “Raoul”.
This year's program highlights the American minimalist composer Philip Glass, and will include a retrospective of the artist's works performed by The Philip Glass Ensemble and Glass himself. Glass will also perform a piano concert, and invites viewers to a showing of the legendary 1982 film “Koyaanisqatsi” (directed by Godfrez Reggio), in which Glass' music will be played live, the composer also taking part.
Another pinnacle of the program are the two concerts scheduled for 18 and 19 August, in which Yoko Ono will be on stage together with her long-time fan Thurston Moore – singer, composer and guitar player for the 80s alternative rock group Sonic Youth; the cooperative project, titled “YOKOKIMTHURSTON”, will also feature Sonic Youth vocalist Kim Gordon.
A beautiful experience is scheduled for 23 August at the Helsinki Music Centre, where the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra will play the soundtrack to the 1940 Walt Disney film “Fantasia” – a classic piece of music for cinema. This will be the first time that the historic animated film will be shown to a public audience while being accompanied by a live orchestra.
Copenhagen Art Week 2013 Copenhagen, Denmark 23 August – 1 September, 2013
Although it's not officially called a festival, Copenhagen Art Week is a great way to end the summer. With music dominating most of the summer festivals, this event puts contemporary visual art in the forefront. Participants in the event include Copenhagen's art museums and galleries, as well as three separate art fairs: Art Copenhagen, Alt_Cph, and Chart Art Fair, which is debuting this year. This is the first time that all of the above will be part of one, unifying art week, and it is being organized by the Danish art magazine Kunsten.nu.
Nargen Festival 2013 Tallinn, Estonia 7 July – 11 September, 2013
All summer long and into autumn, Tallinn's weekends will be filled with the classical music festival Nargen 2013. One of the best features of the Festival is its location – on the island of Naissaar, or “Woman's Island” – which is just 13 km long and 6 km wide, and lies 9 km from the mainland of northern Tallinn. During the soviet era it was a military zone and closed to the public, but now it is a nature preserve. Some Festival events take place in Tallinn itself. One of the Festival's special guests is Arvo Pärt, the famous Estonian composer of classical and sacral music. In honor of the composer, the churches of Tallinn are celebrating “Pärt Days” from 2 – 11 September. The Festival's final concert, “Tabula Rasa”, will be held on 11 September, which is also Pärt's 78