"The essence of a good street party is the feeling of people taking the city back," says Mathilde Friese, part of the committee behind Distortion Festival. "Whether it's a crazy party or chill dining – it's about turning the daily use of the city upside-down and using the urban space to create community."
Mathilde and three other locals offer their top tips on Copenhagen's finest food, music and festivals
Party for days on end in the streets – or at the campground
“Distortion is a street music festival which takes place in four different Copenhagen neighborhoods over four days, and the atmosphere is incredibly relaxed and fun,” says Laura, a German expat whose blog, The Copenhagen Tales, explores the city's many cultural offerings. “Just imagine yourself sitting in the sun, sipping a Carlsberg beer, and listening to great music in a crowd of like-minded people.”
Mathilde explains, “Distortion started back in 1998 as a small celebration of Copenhagen club life... but as it turns out, people really like partying in the streets. From 2000-2011, Distortion went from a small event arranged by one person with 2,000 participants per day, to a gigantic event with five full-time employees and 100,000 participants per day."
The party takes over 44 streets, and “the atmosphere is quite different depending on where you are," Mathilde says. "The overall atmosphere is happy chaos – people are happy, just walking around, dancing, drinking, experiencing. You never know what you will meet around the next corner.”
Our Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen, is located just minutes away from the city center, making it an ideal base for those wishing to check out the event.
Laura also recommends Roskilde, which comes “complete with camping and partying through the night. It’s a huge festival, and it regularly attracts top international artists, such as the Rolling Stones.”
Smaller festivals and venues
Frederik Denning of music blog Passive/Aggressive says, “Copenhagen has a lot of great music festivals, but in my opinion you will find the most interesting concerts at festivals such as Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Strøm, Click Festival, Festival of Endless Gratitude, Flux Festival (in Århus) and Phono Festival (in Odense). Several island festivals have started in Denmark over the past five years. If you want a really unique festival experience, visit Sejerø Festival or Fanø Free Folk Festival."
If you’re looking to unearth some hidden gems in the city, Frederik recommends “Mayhem at Ragnhildgade at any given night. Go to Jazzhouse, or visit Blågårdsgade. And in general, be curious about what’s happening around town.” You'll find a curated list of upcoming concerts across Denmark at Passive/Aggressive.
Neighbourhood – pizza and cocktails for music lovers
Take a break from the festivals and street parties of Copenhagen and head to Neighbourhood, the ideal rest spot for hungry music lovers. Martin Beck Duedahl is the co-founder of hip local eatery. "The dream was to make Neighbourhood an all-organic gourmet pizza and cocktail bar," he says. "It's a local hangout with community table seating, which makes it impossible not to meet your neighbors. We wanted to keep it simple with eight pizzas and eight cocktails. We change the menu with the seasons, so we always have fresh and organic ingredients.”
One of the waiters at Neighbourhood is also a local DJ. "He helped us with with picking out the vinyls that we play and developed all of our playlists, so we have one for each day" Martin says.