Stockholm Festival Guide

A musical August in store for Stockholm

A musical August in store for Stockholm
If you're looking for music festivals in Sweden this month, you need look no further than the capital, writes David Stavrou.

The sun might have been shining on festival-goers so far this year, yet with Hultsfred cancelled and the Arvika Festival’s finances looking ropy, the mood has frequently been gloomy. But in Stockholm the outdoor music scene remains as vibrant as ever, and August offers a particularly rich program of musical events of all styles and genres.

Perhaps the biggest event to take place is Stockholm’s Culture Festival, which has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors since 2006. More than 550 shows performed by 250 artists from all over the world will pack the streets and squares of the capital this year, almost all of them will be free of charge.

The musical events of the six day festival, which starts on August 10th, will be of a wide variety of styles – jazz, opera, folk, classical, rock, soul and world music. The main venues are Gustav Adolfs Torg, Brunkebergstorg, Sergels Torg and the new Roskilde stage on the wharf opposite the Royal Castle.

Lisa Nilsson, the festival’s spokeswoman, tells The Local that the new stage is part of the festival’s Danish theme. “It will host one Swedish headline and five Danish bands every night, all of which are the best upcoming young bands Sweden and Denmark have to offer these days” she says. Other attractions, according to Nilsson, are a tribute to legendary singer, song-writer, poet and actor, Cornelis Vreeswijk, and a large area designated for high quality culture for children”.

Two days before the festival’s kick-off Stockholmers will have another chance to see one of the worlds most important and respected singers and song-writers: Leonard Cohen, who gave a magical concert in Stockholm just a couple of years ago, will be performing again at the Globe arena on August 8th as part of his ongoing world tour. Recently the 75-year-old Cohen has been enjoying renewed popularity and the August gig is a good opportunity to see one of the world’s most critically acclaimed shows featuring some of the best versions of Cohen’s classics.

Slightly more updated music will be available at Popaganda pop festival which will be held at Eriksdalsbadet on August 27th and 28th. This year the festival hosts several excellent British acts.

The Magic Numbers have visited Sweden several times before. They are a London based indie-pop band composed of two pairs of brothers and sisters. With their third album, The Runaway, finally out, the band’s many Swedish fans will have a chance to enjoy its pretty harmonies and clever arrangements on stage too.

Another British band to play at Popaganda is Belle and Sebastian. The group, which was formed in mid-nineties Glasgow, has recently returned to the stage and is apparently working on a new album. Brit award critic’s choice winner, Ellie Goulding, and electropop band, Hot Chips, are two more notable British artists who are appearing at Popaganda this year.

For those interested in the heavier side of rock, Sonisphere Festival on August 7th will supply plenty of distorted guitars, powerful drumming and headbanging fans. The festival, which is part of a series of summer festivals taking place across Europe, will host some of metal’s biggest names such as Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper and thrash metal legends Slayer and Anthrax.

One of the most interesting bands booked for the festival is Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy Pop and his Stooges were pioneers of Punk Rock and Hard Rock way back in the sixties and seventies. They reunited in 2003 and have been touring and recording ever since. Though Pop is 63, he’s still a wild, half naked stage-diver and his show is expected to be one of the festival’s highlights.

But the true spirit of Stockholm’s musical summer is not in the big international festivals and official events. It’s in the local pubs, churches, community centers and parks where many of the city’s professional and hobby musicians get together and jam. The many smaller and local events will be joined by a few specialized festivals such as Stockholm’s Gospel Choir Festival on August 12th-15th. A short ride from the capital, Uppsala’s Reggae festival begins on August 5th.

The month will end with the annual Polar Music Prize ceremony at Stockholm’s concert hall on August 30th. This year it will be Icelandic singer Björk and Italian composer Ennio Morricone who will receive the prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf.

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