The Effects of COVID-19 on Nordic Music FestivalsNú Ninja Helga Mjöll
Recently, musical festivals have turned into an immense production world wide. They have become an important cultural event in which thousands of people come together globally to celebrate music. The success of such festivals can be tied to their ability to facilitate both a sense of kinship and discovery among artists and listeners from different cultures around the world.
In turn, there has also been a rise in the production of music coming from the Nordic countries. Artists ranging from Abba, Of Monsters And Men and Björk are just some of the many talented musicians originating from the Nordics. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have taken part of this newfound culture in the countless musical festivals held annually varying from pop, jazz and metal music.
However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has come to a halt and has thus forced everyone to rethink how to proceed school, work and social life alternatively. Music festivals too must decide how to continue while following proper health protocols. Here are some of the most popular Nordic music festivals and how they have adapted with the pandemic.
1. Oslo World Music Festival
Established in 1994 by Verden Norden, Oslo World has continued to occur every autumn. Originally, the festival was created in collaboration between the Nordics. However, since 2012, the aim of the festival is to highlight voices from all around the world. Their goal was to create both an interest and understanding of the different cultural expressions of others. The festival itself is spread out all around Oslo, with over 10 different venues featuring over 300 artists performing from genres such as African jazz, French chanson, hip hop and electronica.
In light of the pandemic, Oslo World has decided to proceed with this year’s festival, however, the musical program will only consist of artists residing in Norway. They have also noted the precautions being taken in order to ensure everyone’s health and safety. For example, there will be significantly less tickets sold in order to control the amount of people in one space. They have also implemented a feature to reserve seats in advance. Your seat will be noted and is kept for two weeks from the date of the event in case of any infection tracking.
Oslo Worlds Official Website: https://www.osloworld.no/
2. Helsinki Festival
In Finland, Helsinki Fest is held every summer in hopes of turning the city of Helsinki into a more functional and attractive city. The fest is Finland’s largest multi-arts festival and overall biggest cultural event in terms of visitors. In 2015 alone around 295,000 people from around the world participated in the fest. Originally, Helsinki Fest highlighted classical music, currently they have expanded their repertoire of performances to include theater, music, dance, movies, and art.
Unlike Oslo World, Helsinki Fest has halted all efforts to plan any in person event this summer. However, a new multi-artistic event is in the productions to bring people together remotely. Rather the fest will be celebrated online, via radio and television. There will be three concert specials streaming on YLE channels alongside a digital street gallery in which Nordic artists can showcase their work. Their goal continues to focus on bringing art to people, and with COVID they have put in place the precautions needed to follow through with this while ensuring people’s safety.
Helsinki Festival’s Official Website: https://helsinkifestival.fi/en/
3. Iceland Airwaves
This four day festival occurs every year in early November. Thousands of people gather in Reykjavík to celebrate both Icelandic and international music. First starting out in 1999 in an airplane hanger, Airwaves is now the largest celebration of the music industry in Iceland. Concerts are performed at different venues varying from museums, to record stores, bars and churches. The different venues allow for both locals, but especially travelers to explore the Icelandic atmosphere and culture.
Due to the pandemic, their recent 2020 line-up was moved online and showcased local bands only. With all efforts put towards implementing the proper practices, the team later deemed it as impossible to organize safely. This year however, they plan to go ahead with the festival and will move to autumn of 2021. The line-up for the cancelled shows are to be carried over into this year with an additional 25 other bands.
Iceland Airwaves Official Website: https://icelandairwaves.is/
4. Lollapalooza Stockholm
Based on the established Lollapalooza in the United States, Sweden is one of the three cities in Europe that hosts this annual festival, the other two being held in Germany and France. Globally, Lollapalooza attracts over 1.5 million people. Lollapalooza Stockholm highlights musical genres ranging from rock, indie, hip-hop and dance. Not only is the festival known for its music but also for their diverse selection of cuisine and art.
As of now, Lollapalooza is to go forward this summer and run the first week of July 2021. As we continue with the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is unsure if the event will successfully prevail, however, many of the acts have been confirmed and planning is continuing as normal.
Lollapalooza Stockholms Official Website: https://www.lollastockholm.com/
5. Roskilde Festival
Lastly, the largest Nordic culture and music festival has continued to run annually since 1971. Roskilde Festival attracts over 80,000 people yearly from all around the world to celebrate and spectate music and art from diverse cultures. Also run by a non-profit organization, the festival donates 100% of all profits to charity after each festival. Since 1971, over €55 million to charities such as Doctors without Borders, Save the Children and World Wildlife Fund.
This year, the planning for the festival has continued, whether it be in person with extra precautions or online. They continue to update their music and art programme in aims to promote their vision of creating a community.
Roskilde Festivals Official Website: https://www.roskilde-festival.dk/en/
Written by Benji Raskin