Roskilde: change makers and groove shakers

Who says you can’t save the world from the dance floor?
Not Mr. Wolf. And certainly not the organisers of Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, who have been harnessing the power of partying since 1971.

One of the titans of the European festival scene, Roskilde is famous for welcoming music legends from across all genres, as well as Scandinavian favourites and up and coming artists.

But Roskilde is about much more than just music. Run by the Roskilde Festival Charity Society, this annual event is entirely non-profit, with all proceeds going towards humanitarian causes. Since its inception, the festival has donated an impressive 25 million to organisations including Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International, Save the Children and WWF.

With a focus on causes that promote voluntary activity, sustainability and creative kinship, Roskilde’s efforts to drive progress in these areas goes far beyond these charitable donations.

The festival itself is made possible by an army of over 30,000 volunteers. With the addition of 80,000 paying guests coming to the festival city, Roskilde temporarily becomes Denmark’s fourth largest city for the duration of the event. 

This temporary influx of people demanding access to basic services, food, shelter and leisure makes Roskilde a microcosm of the real world’s challenges in promoting sustainable development and a fertile learning ground for academics and businesses wanting to test their big ideas.

This is why Copenhagen Business School describes Roskilde as the world’s largest living laboratory for sustainability. In 2013, researchers were invited to focus on the areas of waste as a resource, food production/waste and temporary housing. This saw innovations like stone wool tents and mobile greenhouses tested at the festival, validating prototypes intended for temporary settlements and refugee camps.

Individual festival goers are also welcome to use their camping set-up as a driver for social change. One of the camp areas, Dream City, has been set aside for up to 4,000 people who want to build their own camp space, to create something extraordinary and to enhance the festival experience for themselves and for those around them. 

Dream City is about co-creation, collaboration, sustainability and great ideas. ‘Dreamers’ begin construction of their projects up to 100 days before the festival begins. These can be anything from a dance floor capable of generating kinetic energy, to a camp celebrating bike love, to a tent dedicated to giving away free samples of fine European cheeses.

Add to this the festival’s many environmental initiatives across the areas of food, transport and energy and it becomes clear that Roskilde is a titan not just of the European festival scene, but a world leader in leveraging the scale of these events to create an impressive net positive impact.

This year, Roskilde will run from 29 June to 6 July and will feature over 160 acts including The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, Chromeo and Stevie Wonder, as well as Scandinavian headliners, Trentemøller, Lykke Li and Moderat. 

Mr Wolf will be there getting lost in LED disco lights and keeping you updated throughout the festival. Stay tuned for our coverage on all the sustainable quirks and perks of Roskilde, as we report direct from the world-changing dance floor itself.

Words: Yvette Naufal
Photography: Title pic - Michael Flarup, Photo 1 - Christian Hjorth, Photo 2 - Per Lange, Photo 3 - Bjork-Steffen Joergensen