• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Pines, polska and magic: Urkult Music Festival

The Local · 29 Jul 2014, 15:21

Published: 29 Jul 2014 15:21 GMT+02:00

It couldn’t get more Swedish than this: A world music festival taking place far away from anywhere on a pine forested ridge overlooking a sweeping river valley below.

Approaching 40 years old fast, I thought my festival going days were long gone. The last festival I went to was Glastonbury in the UK, some 20 years ago. Even then the 100,000 people, squalid toilets, rain and mud were too much for my comfort-craving self to abide. Hence my festival avoidance ever since. 

Urkult though was unlikely to be Glastonbury. It is attended by around 6,500 people and is so far away from anywhere that it seemed unlikely to be too crowded and uncomfortable.

And so with some persuasion from my Swedish girlfriend’s cousin, who is a regular attender of Urkult, this time last year we packed the tent and headed north. On arrival we joined the cousin, his wife, three kids aged between six and 12 and their dog and went out into the forest among the pagans and fire worshipers.

For three days we listened to music from across the world and danced and camped among the trees with new aged dread locked types, circus families, ageing hippies, nudists and lots of regular families too. And although quite far from my comfort zone I had probably the best three days I had had for a very long time.

Urkult is actually held near a small village called Näsåker, where some 2,000 ancient rock paintings can also be found, in the province of Ångermanland. The village sits in the middle of beautiful green countryside and the festival site has a simply stunning location, surrounded by pine forest, with the main stage in a deep natural amphitheater like bowl.

And the campsites, all set outside the main festival enclosure, are a dream.  The one we stayed in was the “family campsite” and had toilets that were cleaned and restocked with toilet paper regularly and a kitchen area with stoves and microwaves. We could even use the nearby showers at the public swimming pool.

Another campsite was below the festival site by the riverside, with people here regularly sun bathing on the riverbanks, or swimming (and washing) in the cold but very refreshing water.

One morning, after waking up in our oven like tent, we took a stroll down here ourselves to cool off. The shock of the cold water though was not as shocking as seeing a handful of men and women strolling stark naked through the water towards me. Being among other Swedes, I hid my English prudishness and acted like it was all perfectly normal.

The “Drug Free Campsite” was billed on the festival website as “accommodation for people who abstain from alcohol and other drugs.” I was not actually aware though of anyone taking drugs at all during the festival. Perhaps no one felt the need to as this was indeed a natural magical experience.

None of the bands at Urkult are well known, but this helps add to the relaxed environment by taking away the usual need at festivals to try and see all your favourite artists.  And while some bands last year were frankly not that great, the majority were very good and the variety of music helped make it very special.

At the more bizarre end of the spectrum was a chanting Chinese outfit and a Ukrainian/Polish trio who played electronica music with the addition of squeaky multi coloured plastic toys!

But there was also some more conventional and wonderful traditional Swedish folk music, a Canadian blue grass trio who sounded straight out of the movie O Brother, Where Art thou?, a wildly energetic singer from Mozambique, a crazy Swedish klezmer band who had us all dancing in the middle of the afternoon in the hot sun, and the finale was a Swedish hip hop band.

Now, I am not much of a dancer but the mass Polska dance on the wooden decking in front of the main stage on the Saturday afternoon was one of the highlights of the weekend, especially for the kids.

And Urkult is an incredibly kid friendly festival. It is so super relaxed that children are left to wander about on their own, even to and from the campsites.

Story continues below…

At the entrance is a great playground with wooden climbing frames and circus like apparatus for kids to play on. There is also plenty of face painting and other specific kids activities going on all the time.

But the kids were also very much involved in listening to and watching the bands, with no one caring if a view was blocked by kids being on shoulders. The festival is so small everyone could see anyway and it was all just so nice with none of the argy bargy of the usual festival experience.

In fact the variety of people among the mostly Swedish audience also soon became a joy: from babies to pensioners, from far out hippies to regular looking people. All smiling and dancing, with some dancing in some very hysterical wacky ways, amid the trees.

The festival ended with another mass midnight Polska dance at the end of a long energetic weekend. Not long after the sun had magically set again through the tress and beyond the river below. The kids were still going strong but the adults were exhausted and only fit for a good night cup of chai.

There are still tickets available for this year’s Urkult festival which begins on Thursday, July 31st. Visit the website for more details. 

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ibrahimovic confirms Manchester United move
Ibrahimovic playing for Sweden at Euro 2016. Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis/TT

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has put months of speculation over his future to an end by confirming that he will join Manchester United.

Man detained in Sweden over poison plot
Uppsala University. Photo: David Naylor/Uppsala universitet

The case, which involved assistance from the FBI, regards poisonous substance ricin that was allegedly stolen from Uppsala University to aid a blackmail plot.

Fifty Stockholm heart patients hit by superbug
Staff check air quality in an operating theatre at Karolinska University Hospital. Photo: Gary Fabbri

A potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria has spread to more than 50 heart patients at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm.

Two jailed for match-fixing in Swedish football
Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

A Swedish appeals court has jailed two football players and handed suspended sentences to four others for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

How many Swedes were unfaithful last year?
Photo: Sandra Qvist/TT

It kind of depends how you define it.

Brexit
'A Swedish passport means more than a British one now'
A Swedish passport. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The Local spoke to Brits living in Sweden on how they feel about the Brexit vote, one week on.

Want a job? Here’s where Sweden needs people
Nurses are in high demand in Sweden. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

It’s not always easy to find work in Sweden, but there are quite a few professions crying out for new workers in the coming year.

Top Swedish businesswomen slam boardroom quota plan
Antonia Ax:son Johnson opposes the plan. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

It's a slippery slope, they say.

What's on in Sweden
Five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm
A ghost walk in Gamla Stan is one way to kick off July in Stockholm. Photo: Jeppe Wikström/Visit Stockholm

From Vikings to ghosts, music and more: The Local looks at five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm.

In pictures: Eight cool compact Scandinavian houses
Houzz.se editor Sara Norrman rounds up some neat but great Scandinavian houses. Photo: Sommarnöjen

Size isn't everything, and Houzz.se's editor in chief Sara Norrman proves it with this looks at nine brilliant uses of compact Scandinavian houses.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Business & Money
Swedish banknotes expire this week
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Gallery
People-watching: June 29th
International
Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
Blog updates

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Private
The Local Voices
'Having a Middle Eastern name makes life in Sweden hard'
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Private
The Local Voices
'Sweden is the best place for people with special needs'
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
3,314
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se