Cultural Copenhagen

Summertime happenings in the Danish capital to keep you rocking.

Summertime happenings in the Danish capital to keep you rocking.

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When the city of Copenhagen comes up in conversation, visitors can draw to mind images of bicycle lanes wider than car lanes, or Noma, or the Little Mermaid.

During the summer, however, Copenhagen really comes alive, teeming with activities of the jovial festival kind. There are countless events, big and small, to partake; here is a cross section of what’s on offer in 2014.

Summer a-brewin’

Things kick off in the early summer with a few beer festivals – after all, this is the home of Carlsberg. The Copenhagen Beer Celebration is arranged by cult brewery Mikkeller and in 2014 it will take place on May 2nd and 3rd. The concept is simple: Mikkeller invites 40 of the world’s most extreme craft beer brewers to an old athletics arena in Sparta Hallen. Each brewery brings eight of its most extraordinary beers and two different kegs of beer to the festival’s four sessions. With a limited supply of some of the world’s most unique beers, visitors scramble around the venue because as the organising brewer ominously puts it: “When the kegs are empty, they are empty”. The Danish Beer Enthusiasts also hosts a beer festival, the Copenhagen Beer Festival. Now in its 14th year, the festival takes place on May 22-24, 2014. The gathering brings together more than 70 local and foreign exhibitors – collectively showcasing 700 beer varieties – to Tap1, the old tapping halls of Carlsberg and today renovated into a modern concert and exhibition venue right next to Carlsberg headquarters.

Street Style

Before the beer moustaches have time to be wiped off, an entirely different, city-wide celebration begins. Distortion fills the streets of Copenhagen for a week in June with spontaneous street parties across the city during the day and contemporary music events are held at the city’s coolest nighttime venues before it all ends in a massive party on the last day. This year, the 16th installation of Distortion takes place from June 4-8, 2014, featuring a lineup of international and well known local artists for what the organisers refer to as “orchestrated chaos”.

The Sound of Music

Next on the festival calendar is the biggest music event of the year: Roskilde Festival. Attracting some 100,000 people every summer to a field south of Roskilde, an ancient city dating back to the Viking Age, the festival is one of Europe’s biggest, featuring eight stages and four full days of fun in the sun. The festival has a campsite section whose boisterous atmosphere rivals the actual event, with lots of activities and events happening throughout the week. The weeklong party originated as a hippie festival, but later became known for embracing rock music. When the 2014 edition kicks off towards the end of June, visitors will be able to be in the presence of musical greats including The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, Drake and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few.

Another music festival – of a more refined kind – is the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Held every summer since 1979, the event has grown to become one of the biggest of its kind in Europe, where some 250,000 gather to enjoy free and paid-for live jazz concerts in the streets, in cafes, concert halls and at open-air night venues. The festival starts every year on the first Friday of July and runs for 10 days. In 2001, the organisers added Vinterjazz to the schedule, a nationwide 17-day festival that kicks off on the first Friday of February.

One of the last festivals of the season is dedicated to lovers of electronic music. This year, STRØM will return for its seventh year from August 11-17, 2014. The multi-dimensional event will run for seven days activity-packed with outdoor concerts in Enghaveparken Park, raves held in unique settings including churches, rooftops, and nightclubs, and workshops. To get an idea of the scope of the event, last year’s festival featured over 170 artists and 60-plus events.

Culinary vs. Underground Art

Once the city is done grooving to the sound of jazz artists from around the world, it’s time for some good ol’ cooking, namely Copenhagen Cooking. On what would be its 10th anniversary, the festival – held this year from August 22-31, 2014 – showcases Copenhagen as a world-class gastronomic destination through a series of pop-up culinary events. During the festival, which is also held every winter through the month of February, participating restaurants will put on special offers or host international chefs, with the whole city teeming with special culinary events, seminars and workshops. On the same day that Copenhagen Cooking turns off its last gas burner, the Trailer Park Festival kicks off. The three-day music and art festival will be held at the Copenhagen Skatepark from July 31 to August 2, 2014. The festival started out in 2007 as an underground event at an empty building in a rundown area of Copenhagen and has since expanded to host some 40 Danish and international up-and-coming artists showcasing one-off works during the festival.

Forget about London or Berlin this summer and head instead to Copenhagen for your music, art and food fixes. If you find yourself in the Danish capital this summer – or even close enough to make a detour – go to the event websites for more information on the festivals mentioned above.

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