Making the most of the 2011 Malmö Festival

As Sweden's southern metropolis of Malmö gears up for this year's Malmö Festivalen, contributor Caroline Bursell previews some of the event's main attractions.

Making the most of the 2011 Malmö Festival

“I am Malmöfestivalen, your new best Swedish friend. I have all the hottest bands, first class theatre shows, extraordinary dance performances, exciting sports activities, food delicacies and unique art and design experiences.”

So reads the description on the website for the Malmö Festival, taking place Friday August 19 to Friday August 26 this year.

Ego aside, the description is accurate – an excess of popular concerts and internationally renowned guests are to fill the city streets, and all that is on offer is free for everyone to attend.

Since its start in 1985, the festival has always offered an abundance of popular concerts and internationally renowned guests which help fill the city streets with crowds looking to take advantage of the slew of free events.

This year boasts a massive assortment of well-known musical artists and performances to awaken culture in every corner of the city.

Here are a few tips to help make the most of your visit:


On Friday, sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady, born and raised in the US, reconnect after years apart by making music as the eccentric pop/rock duo CocoRosie. Later on North Carolina’s Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, tells tales with his iconic Folk Rock rhythms.

Saturday features the ultimate line-up for head banging, with Gothenburg’s Dead by April and Danish rockers Supercharger.

Los Angeles based indie ‘surf pop’ band Best Coast with their touch of 60’s flair and girl group sweetness adds a little sugar to on Sunday, with punk veterans NOFX performing on Monday

Midweek, go see ‘Treenigheten’ or The Trinity, a vibrant combination of three personalities with roots in even West India, New York and Gothenburg. The women that form this trio offer you dance and electro music and avant-garde salsa in a “suburban Indian” culture.

Friday’s acts include American hip hop icons CunninLynguists, performing rap in between measures of indie bass beats and even a well-orchestrated sample of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto – a distinctive performance you won’t want to miss.

Culture, Art, and Design

On Saturday, catch Future Shorts, a monthly short film festival born in London in 2003.

Come Sunday night, gamers can break out their costumes and virtual personalities to compete against other video gamers in “Cosplay” combat.

For a startling theatre experience to ignite your senses, see “Blood Wedding” by Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca, at central venue Palladium on Monday.

Newcomers Garbage Ass are a dance group that formed in March of this year, and have practiced weekly since to bring you a popping performance of lyrical hip hop on Tuesday.

Irish artist Kianoosh Vahabi presents an elegant reflection over Malmö’s gothic Saint Peter’s church and exciting video projections in the town square that can be seen all week – be there to fully experience the elements of musicality and meditation in his art.

For those who have never been to Malmö, Malmö Panorama is an opportunity to get to know the city like never before – the photos in this exhibition (which is open all week) showcases brand new angles and documents incredible city views in stunning detail.

Japanese artist Misaki Kawai creates a monumental masterpiece, transforming a super ramp into a wave (with up to at least 200 square meters of painted surface) that she aims for visitors to not only admire but also interact with – dive in from the very first Friday.

Food and Drink

Visit the 60’s tent for classic Swedish dishes to go with a taste of equally timeless song and dance, or visit the delicacy-filled booths at the Posthusplatsen venue when the continuous festival activities call for an energy boost.

Meet with TV4’s cooks on Sunday to learn how to make kafta, falafel, baklava and more herb-rich snacks from the Middle East, and then join organic enthusiasts “Raw Food House” for lunch on Monday to hear about the raw food lifestyle, how to go about it and the benefits of eating raw food.

And oyster lovers take note: for the first time in twenty years the Swedish Oyster Opening Championship is to be held over the weekend, a sight to see when picking up tips for the dinner table or a fun challenge if you decide you have what it takes.


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‘Don’t wear bright colours’: Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Swedes have an international reputation for dressing well, with Scandi style a popular trend outside Sweden. The Local asked Swedes and foreigners living in Sweden to try and figure out the best tips and tricks for how to dress like a Swede.

'Don't wear bright colours': Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Black is best

When asking several Swedes their top-tips on how to dress like a Swede, many agreed – wear black.

Young professional Tove advises to keep it “all black, minimalist”. Uppsala newspaper columnist Moa agrees: “Wear a lot of black clothes and DON’T wear sneakers or ‘comfortable’ shoes, like running shoes, with dresses.”

Black is a neutral colour and, in general, if you get the neutral colours right you have got a long way in following the Swedish style. 

Neutral colours and a lot of knitwear is a good starting point. Photo: FilippaK/

Stay neutral 

Sweden might be saying goodbye to hundreds of years of neutrality by joining Nato, but Swedish fashion maintains its strong neutral stance when it comes to colour combinations.

Generally speaking, in autumn and winter Swedes tend to wear darker colours, as Sharon put it: “lots of beige, grey, black and ivory knits or wool. Jeans black or any shade of blue. Black tights with white sneakers for skirts and dresses”.

“Swedes in general will wear black and navy together which I’ve not seen before,” she added.

However, as the weather gets warmer, things change, as half-British half-Swedish Erik explained: “in summer/late spring Swedes change shape and personality,” adding a bit more colour to their wardrobe.

“Lots of colours yet still somewhat monochrome,” he said.

Most Swedes don’t wear a tie at work. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Follow the news trend, drop the tie

Nils, a reporter and presenter for public broadcaster SVT in western Sweden, does not always wear a tie in front of the camera – and he said his colleagues on national news don’t wear ties either.

“It’s not a must,” he said.

A blue shirt, no tie, top button open, beige chinos and a grey dinner jacket is the look he chose when presenting the evening news a few weeks ago.

Nils Arnell presenting the news on SVT Nyheter Väst. Photo: Nils Arnell/SVT

On a day to day basis Nils, who stressed that he’s “not a fashion expert”, gave the following advice: “As long as you manage to dress in a neat style, you can get away with quite a lot.”

“A white t-shirt and an overshirt work well in most situations and look stylish.”

Stay classy, even in class

Engineering student Erik (not the same Erik quoted previously) recently returned to Sweden from a one-year exchange at Birmingham University, where he noticed a big difference in student style between the two countries.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that on university campus there are so many people wearing work-out clothes, at least where I was”, he said.

“In Sweden, it’s more common to wear jeans than tracksuit bottoms, compared to the UK”. 

It’s also common to see a difference in styles even between departments at Swedish universities. The law and economics departments, for example, tend to wear more formal attire with a higher number of students wearing shirts and polos than, say, social sciences or engineering students.

Many students seem to wear a toned-down version of what they might be expected to wear in their future workplace.

When in doubt, think Jantelagen!

Equality and conformity are important concepts when it comes to many aspects of day-to-day life in Sweden, including the clothes you wear.

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same as everyone else, but more that being too flashy or over-the-top can be frowned upon.

This can be traced back to Jantelagen, “the law of Jante”, a set of 10 rules taken from a satirical novel written by Danish author Aksel Sandemose in the 1930s, which spells out the unwritten cultural codes that have long defined Scandinavia.

Jantelagen discourages individual success and sets average as the goal. It manifests itself in Swedish culture not only with a ‘we are all equal’ ethos but even more so a ‘don’t think you are better than anyone, ever’ mindset.

And this is seen in Swedes’ attitude to clothing, too. Flashy, expensive clothing with obvious logos or brands designed to show off your wealth breaks the first rule of Jantelagen: “You’re not to think you are anything special”.

‘Stealth wealth’

This doesn’t mean that Swedes don’t wear expensive clothes, though. They’re just not in-your-face expensive.

Felix, a podcaster from Stockholm describes it as “stealth wealth”, saying that Swedes would have no problem buying and wearing “a black jacket without any tags for 10,000kr”. 

Despite living in Sweden his whole life, he said that it’s not always easy to get the style right.

“I’m struggling myself,” he admitted.

He suggested taking a look at fashion blogger and journalist Martin Hansson for inspiration on how to dress. 

“Do NOT use bright colours,” Felix added.

Birkenstocks with socks. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT


Most of those we asked said that Swedes are a fan of white trainers, most commonly Stan Smiths or Vagabonds.

With the shoes being popular all year round for men and women, this can cause issues at house parties – as Swedes take off their shoes when they come inside.

This inevitably results in confused guests at the end of the night trying to figure out just which pair of white trainers belongs to them – and trying to find one missing shoe the next day because someone accidentally walked away with one of yours is more common than you might think. 

Vans trainers are also popular amongst more alternative crowds (black of course). At work, dress shoes are popular in the winter and loafers or ballerinas in the summer.

In the summer months, you’re likely to see Birkenstock sandals on men and women. Most Swedes wear Birkenstocks without socks – unless they’re off to do their laundry in their building’s tvättstuga.

Birkenstocks are also popular as indoor shoes all-year-round, both at home and at work. It is common to have a “no outdoor shoes” policy in gyms, schools and some offices. This is to avoid bringing a lot of dirt indoors, especially in the winter months when there is snow, rain, grit and salt on the streets.

H&M’s then-CEO Rolf Eriksen wears colourful socks at a press conference in 2006. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

Don’t forget the socks!

As you often take your shoes off indoors in Sweden, your socks are visible.

This has led to an unexpected trend for colourful socks with interesting patterns, which are a great way to break the monotone of neutral colours and conformity by expressing your personality – in a lagom way, of course.

A pair of colourful socks or a playful pattern will get you noticed and likely be a conversation starter at a dinner party.

What’s your best advice for dressing like a Swede? Let us know!

This article is based on the responses we received from Swedes and foreigners in Sweden on what they think you should wear if you want to follow Swedish fashion trends.

If you have any tips of your own which you think we’ve left out, let us know! You can comment on this article, send us an email at [email protected], or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @thelocalsweden