• Sweden's news in English
 

Pines, polska and magic: Urkult Music Festival

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.

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 stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US rapper Wyclef Jean: 'I want to move to Sweden'
US-Haitian rap artist Wyclef Jean. Photo: AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron

US rapper Wyclef Jean: 'I want to move to Sweden'

A small Swedish town two hours north of Stockholm could get an unexpected celebrity resident. Rap star Wyclef Jean fell in love with Sandviken after a gig there two years ago and has now told a Swedish tabloid that he is planning a move to the town in the next couple of years. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons Sandviken could really suit Wyclef
Sandviken railway station. Photo: Tanzania/Wikipedia

Five reasons Sandviken could really suit Wyclef

Former Fugees star Wyclef Jean stirred up a right debate in Sweden on Thursday when he said he was planning a move to the small town of Sandviken, two hours north of the capital. But we're not ones to judge, so we've put together this list of five reasons why the rapper might be such a big fan of this rural town. READ  

The Local List
Five questions before buying a Sweden home
Here's what you need to know before buying a home in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Five questions before buying a Sweden home

The Swedish financial watchdog recently scrapped plans for new mortgage rules, meaning you can still buy a home in Sweden and never pay off the full loan. Here's The Local's guide to the five main things you need to know before taking your first step on to the property ladder in the Nordic country. READ  

Swedish city apartment buyers in 'trouble' zone
Apartment blocks in Gothenburg: Photo: Simon Paulin/Image Bank Sweden

Swedish city apartment buyers in 'trouble' zone

One of Sweden's biggest banks has warned that too many potential buyers in Gothenburg and Stockholm are set to spend more than 30 percent of their disposable income on monthly mortgage payments and related costs, putting them in danger of potential financial problems in future. READ  

Interview
'I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish'

'I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish'

What’s it like growing up in Sweden when you don’t look like anybody else? Swedish-Eritrean singer and social activist Sa’ra Charismata tells The Local about immigration, peace, and why it’s okay to be scared of other cultures. READ  

Swedes want 'equal' World Cup (for women)
Some of Sweden's national team with coach Pia Sundhage. Photo: TT

Swedes want 'equal' World Cup (for women)

UPDATED: Swedish TV channel TV4 plans to describe the upcoming global women's football contest in Canada as the 'World Cup', as part of efforts to promote equality in the sport, but Fifa has said it will be in breach of contract unless it uses its full title the 'Fifa Women's World Cup'. READ  

Virus poisons thousands of Swedish computers
A computer virus has attacked thousands of Swedish computers. Photo: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Virus poisons thousands of Swedish computers

Thousands of Swedish computers have been hit by a destructive computer virus that gains access to all files and makes it possible for the invader to empty a user's bank account in seconds. READ  

What's on in Sweden
Five unmissable events in Sweden this week
Sweden's Eurovision hero will be performing in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Five unmissable events in Sweden this week

Eurovision hero Måns Zelmerlöw is performing at Stockholm's most iconic theme park this weekend, while one of Europe's hottest music and tech festivals is making its way to northern Sweden and Malmö is showcasting some of the most talented names on the Nordic theatre circuit. READ  

Sweden drops in leading global business rankings
Sweden is still one of the tenth most competitive nations in the world. Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden drops in leading global business rankings

High taxes and unemployment have pushed Sweden down to ninth place from fifth a year earlier in an annual world competitiveness survey by a leading Swiss business school. READ  

Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK
Chris O'Neill and Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/SCANPIX

Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK

Princess Madeleine of Sweden is set to leave her native country and move to London with her British-American banker husband Chris O'Neill, the Royal Court confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Five questions to ask before buying your first home in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: People-watching: May 17th
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sport
Fake quotes in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Swedish memoirs
Blog updates

26 May

Vet, kan, känner eller känner till? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It happens every now and then that my students mix up the words “vet”, “kan”, “känner”..." READ »

 

24 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Real American men don’t watch Eurovision. New video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQk5dUhGt-w ..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Education
Does Sweden mark down foreigners' children?
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
National
Russian veterans' Nazi attack on Ikea
Gallery
Property of the week: Lugnvik, Östersund
National
Avicii confirms royal wedding DJ gig
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw through the years
Gallery
People-watching: May 22nd-23rd
National
Why are Sweden's beaches among the worst in Europe?
National
VIDEO: Can you get your tongue around Sweden's word for 'nurse'?
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,260
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