Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2018 (updated): Dispatches’ list of Denmark’s best music festivals

The United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Germany are Europe’s major music festival powers, with enough events to fill the calendar from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve. But they’re not the only ones to keep the continent flying high on a magic carpet ride of sound. As anyone who’s ever lived there knows, Denmark rocks.

Though things are quiet for part of the year, May through August is when the country comes to life with one festival after another. Unlike the Big Three’s various festivals, most of Denmark’s festivals are heavily focused on local and Nordic artists; if you ever wanted to know what’s hot in Denmark, any given festival will show you.

Thus, we give you our list of the best music festivals in Denmark. The festivals on this year’s list are those which will take place from May through the end of 2018; a new list will be introduced in December 2018 to cover the entirety of 2019.

Also: the ticket prices for each festival are in Danish krone (ISO currency code DKK; dansk krone) alongside the Euro, as Denmark negotiated its right to opt-out of the latter via the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Though there has been some interest in reconsidering the opt-out since then, the Danes in general stand firm with the krone.

And of course, if you know of a music festival we should know about, email us at:

[email protected]

[email protected]



Copenhagen – Distortion: Celebrate 20 glorious years “of massive daytime street parties, underground nightclub events and the grand two-day finale Distortion Ø” when the annual Distortion celebrates its 20th anniversary 30 May through 3 June in the heart of Copenhagen.

For a whole week, Copenhagen will be party central, pushing the limits of street life and party culture as it has always done since it first began in 1998 as “an experimental party project.”

Two decades of wubs needs a lineup like this:

Big Freedia; Charlotte de Witte; Injury Reserve; Johannes Brecht; Lehar; Sandy B; Stimming; and Solomun

A festival pass to the 20th anniversary of Distortion is DKK 550 (€74). Passes to the grand finale, Distortion Ø, range from DKK 300 to DKK 500 (€40 – €67).

Kværndrup – Heartland Festival: Two hours to the southwest of Copenhagen is the town of Kværndrup, home of the annual Heartland Festival, held on the grounds of Egeskov Castle.

Heartland Festival combines live talks, contemporary art, culinary mastery and, of course, music, all under an open-air setting with a 16th-century castle and its gardens as the stage. The goal of the festival is to “create a festival unlike other existing festivals in Denmark. A festival that resembles successful international festivals such as ones seen in e.g. England and The Netherlands.”

Kick off your summer at Egeskov with this royal programme:

LCD Soundsystem; Van Morrison; Patti Smith; The The; Slowdive; Av Av Av; Marie Key; Oneohtrix Point Never; Pussy Riot; When Saints Go Machine; and many more

Tickets to the Heartland Festival—scheduled for 31 May through 2 June—is DKK 1,690 (€227) for a full festival pass, DKK 990 (€133) for a single-day ticket; Friday is sold-out. Camping options and children’s tickets are also available.


Aarhus – NorthSide: Every June, the city centre of Aarhus comes to life with one of the largest events in all of Scandinavia, NorthSide.

Since the first NorthSide in 2010, the urban festival has grown to attract fans from all over Scandinavia and beyond to see the best Danish and international acts hit the stage, including Radiohead, Mø, Phlake, Tina Dickow, Bastille and James Blake.

Hit the north in early June with this big lineup:

Liam Gallagher; The National; Mike D; Queens of the Stone Age; Tyler, The Creator; Björk; A Perfect Circle; N.E.R.D.; Body Count; Greta Van Fleet; Aurora; and many more

A three-day pass to NorthSide is DKK 1,595 (€215), DKK 2,495 (€336) for access to the VIP area. Day tickets are DKK 995 (€134) for Thursday’s programme, Friday and Saturday already sold-out.

Copenhagen – Copenhell: Denmark is Norse country; thus, it’s already metal. And the best way to experience the metalness of Denmark is to head into Copenhagen’s B&W shipyard on the Refshaleøen 20 through 23 June for the 2018 edition of Copenhell.

Forged in the old fires and steel of the shipyard in 2010, Copenhell “is still hot as hell, extremely heavy and uncontrollable like a supertanker in distress at sea”; thus, a truly magnificent setting for the thousands of metalheads to experience the hammers of the metal gods and goddesses every year.

Óðinn demands you kneel before the heaviness and brutality of this year’s lineup:

Neurosis; Ozzy Osbourne; Ghost; Alice In Chains; W.A.S.P.; Arch Enemy; Satyricon; Sodom; Enslaved; Corrosion Of Conformity; Auðn; LIVLØS; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of Copenhell are DKK 1,540 (€207) for a three-day pass, DKK 1,640 (€221) for the three-day and warm-up day pass. Day (Friday is sold-out), R.I.P. and collector’s tickets are also available.

Odense – Tinderbox: Only a few years old in 2015, the Hans Christian Andersen-inspired Tinderbox exploded onto the Danish festival scene. It’s set to do it again 28 through 30 June in its home of Odense, Denmark’s third-largest city, located two hours west of Copenhagen on the island of Funen.

Tinderbox is one of the top festivals in Denmark, bringing together various genres of music and over 40,000 fans in the Tusindårsskoven forest over the course of three days under the motto of “Where words fail, music speaks.”

“Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are messed up”:

Depeche Mode; Alanis Morissette; Bastille; Bisse; CV Jørgensen; Editors; Iggy Pop; Jack White; Madness; Prophets of Rage; The Breeders; Wiz Khalifa; and many more

Tickets to the fourth edition of Tinderbox are DKK 1,595 (€215) for a full festival pass, DKK 2,495 (€336) for a full VIP festival pass. Single-day tickets are DKK 955 (€129), through Thursday is already sold-out.

Roskilde – Roskilde Festival: The long-running Roskilde Festival in Roskilde was originally created for Denmark’s hippies in 1971. Since then, the festival has grown to welcome all who have the pulse of the youth over the decades, including U2, Pearl Jam, Leonard Cohen, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Trentemøller, and The Weeknd.

Eight stages, 175 acts, 130,000 fans, a week to remember:

Eminem; Bruno Mars; Nine Inch Nails; David Byrne; My Bloody Valentine; Clutch; Boris & Merzbow; Peter Somner; CV Jørgensen; First Aid Kit; The Minds of 99; Clarissa Connelly; Iris Gold; Tight Cherry; and many more

The 2018 edition of Roskilde is set for 30 June through 7 July 2018. A full eight-day pass goes for DKK 2,100 (€283). Single-day tickets are DKK 1,050 (€141); Wednesday is already sold-out.


Aarhus – Aarhus Jazz Festival: Looking to jazz up your July in Denmark? Then head over to Aarhus 14 through 21 July for the 30th edition of the Aarhus Jazz Festival.

In 1989, Musikhuset Aarhus, along with the city’s local venues, came together to “establish an event with international stars and new talents in jazz,” one that would liven up the otherwise “stagnant and quiet” summers in Aarhus. Today, the city’s summer is alive, and the Aarhus Jazz Festival is the second largest jazz festival in all of Denmark.

Come celebrate the pearl anniversary of the Aarhus Jazz Festival with this lineup:

Burt Bacharach; Pianotrio; Katrine Falkenberg & Kvartet; Michael Bladt & Frederik Vuust Trio; Claire Martin; HVID; Uffe Steen & Peter Vuust; Melody Gardot & Aarhus Jazz Orchestra; and many more

Tickets to the Aarhus Jazz Festival are sold by the participating venues per performance; thus, prices will vary.

Copenhagen – Copenhagen Jazz Festival: Need your jazzy Danish July earlier? Then Copenhagen has you covered with the 40th edition of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 6 through 15 July.

Since 1979, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has been “one of Europe’s most important international music events based on eminent artistic quality and a sharp focus on new departures in both Danish and international jazz.” More than 250,000 fans flood the city over 10 days to enjoy over 1,200 performances in around 120 venues. And the festival welcomes all, from jazz believers to those who are experiencing jazz for the first time, young and old.

This lineup is ready to celebrate the ruby anniversary of Denmark’s biggest jazz festival:

Pharoah Sanders; Peter Vuust Trio feat. Veronica Mortensen; The Spirit of New Orleans; Scandinavian Old Stars; Brad Mehldau Trio; Christina von Bülow & Søren Kristiansen; Ray Charles Tribute feat. Bobo Moreno og Tricia Boutté; Jeff Beck; Billy Cross; Melody Gardot; and many more

A few performances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival are free to all. For the rest, tickets can be purchased through the programme.

Nibe – Nibe Festival: A 45-minute flight from Copenhagen to Aalborg and a half-hour drive southwest will lead you to the town of Nibe, home of one of Denmark’s six largest music festivals, the Nibe Festival.

For over three decades, the Nibe Festival has turned the Skalskoven into a music wonderland every July. Over 60,000 attend the festival’s 100 performances annually, carried out over five stages featuring the best in Danish and international music. Proceeds from the festival are donated each year to various non-profits devoted to growing the arts in North Jutland.

The midnight sun shines bright upon this lineup in Nibe:

The Script; Mew; Aqua; DJ Alligator; Faustix; Dizzy Mizz Lizzy; Big Boi; Velvet Volume; Go Go Berlin; Shotgun Revolution; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of the Nibe Festival—scheduled for 4 through 7 July—are DKK 595 (€80) for single-day tickets, DKK 1,575 (€212) for a full festival pass. Camping tickets are also available.

Vig – Vig Festival: Looking to immerse yourself in the Danish music scene? An hour’s drive westward along Route 21 from Copenhagen will bring you to the town of Vig, home of the long-running Vig Festival.

Since 1996, the Vig Festival has presented a programme designed for the whole family to enjoy, providing a safe space for children in particular. Around 13,000 come to the festival annually to check out the best of the national music scene, from up-and-coming talent and current stars, to classic artists and tribute bands.

This lineup can be on your Danish-themed Spotify playlist:

Thomas Helmig; Nik & Jay; The Corridors of Power; Aura; Saveus; Jesper Binzer; Uncle Reje; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of the Vig Festival—scheduled for 12 through 14 July—are DKK 1,100 (€148) for a three-day pass, DKK 600 – DKK 725 (€81 – €98) for a day ticket, depending on the day chosen.


Copenhagen – HAVEN Festival: Looking for a safe haven to experience aural pleasures and the finest brews? Then head to Copenhagen 10 and 11 August for the second edition of the HAVEN Festival, held against the backdrop of the Refshaleøen.

The two-day festival is a music festival, beer festival, food festival and art festival all in one setting, where guests are pushed beyond mere passive observance into working in various crossover collaboration with musicians, chefs, artists and brewers alike. We don’t know what this means, but we like it.

Wrap yourself in the safe haven of this lineup:

Arcade Fire; Ariel Pink; Cancer; Einstürzende Neubauten; Kraftwerk; Unknown Mortal Orchestra; and many more

Tickets to the second annual HAVEN Festival are DKK 1,435 (€193) for a two-day pass, DKK 935 (€126) for a single-day ticket.

Copenhagen – Strøm Festival 2018: Free music. Yes, freeeeee.  From 8 thru 11 August, Strøm Festival brings the various flavors if EDM to Copenhagen’s urban center, as well as top Danish and international artists and newbies.

You can see the full list here.

Also, this is more than just one big rave. This is part music festival, part music workshops and networking. Strøm is also about integrating Copenhagen’s urban environment and architecture into the groove, utilizing performance venues all over the city.

Here’s where we usually put the ticket price … FREE, courtesy of grants from the State Art Foundation, the City of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg Municipality for activities.

Skanderborg – Smukfest: Nearly four decades ago in Skanderborg, “Denmark’s most beautiful festival,” Smukfest, was born on a small stage with seven bands, 600 fans, and a tarpaulin to keep the rain at bay.

Today, the beautiful festival draws over 50,000 to the beech forest near Skanderborg to spend a week with the best in rock, metal, hip-hop, pop, folk and electronic, including Britney Spears, Ozzy Osbourne, Prince, Tom Jones and Eric Clapton.

Behold the beautiful sounds that await your ears at Denmark’s most beautiful festival:

Britney Spears; Kendrick Lamar; deadmau5; Infernal; Lil’ Kleine; Jethro Tull; Mew; Bananarama; Go Go Berlin; The Minds of 99; Afrojack; Aura; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of Smukfest—scheduled for 8 through 12 August—are already sold-out, and have been since February. However, you can sign-up on a waiting list to buy a ticket on the official resale channel for DKK 2,695 (€362).

Tønder – Tønder Festival: A drive across the Danish-German border will bring you to the town of Tønder, where you can bid farewell to the Danish summer 23 through 26 August during the 2018 edition of the Tønder Festival.

Beginning in June 1974 as a summer music festival on the Vidå River, followed by a repeat in August of that year before officially establishing itself in August 1975, the Tønder Festival has grown over the four decades to become “a unique festival with a well-defined profile and a powerful identity… something money can’t buy.”

Money can’t buy a lineup like this, but it helps:

3Hattrio; Anne Linnet; B.B. King Tribute feat. Mike Andersen, Shaka & James Loveless, Otis Grand and others; Cóig; Dusty Heart; Jeffrey Foucault; Melissa Horn; Oysterband; The Mavericks; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of the Tønder Festival are DKK 1,490 (€201) for a full festival pass, DKK 600 to DKK 800 (€81 – €108) for single-day tickets, depending on which day you attend. Camping tickets and discounts are also available.

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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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