Festival scene in Gothenburg
With its naturally chilled and artistic vibe, it's no surprise to see so many festivals thriving in Gothenburg. We spoke to Americk and Naida, who work on two such festivals: All My Friends Are Stars and West Pride. Americk, a musician from New York, is coming to Gothenburg for the fourth year to host AMFAS. While Naida is part of the team at West Pride festival, having previously worked on the Gothenburg Film Festival and Way Out West. They offered us an insight into what makes Gothenburg the ideal city for festivals.
Why is Gothenburg a special city for festivals?
Americk: First of all, because Gothenburg is such a safe city to get people to come together. It is also beautiful, with a lot of space to use, plus the cops are friendly, which creates a very nice atmosphere.
In summer, you get the long hours of sunshine. With the sun going down at 11 pm, festivals like ours can be held safely by the water.
It’s fantastic to have wonderful nature as a location to host a festival, right in the middle of Sweden’s second largest city. I am permitted (under certain conditions) to use public land for events. We can celebrate nature and use the land to its fullest potential. I mean, it's public land and so it makes sense to use it for public events. But that’s not the case in other cities.
Naida: I worked with Way Out West and the Gothenburg Film Festival before. They obviously have special events for directors and “stars”, industry passes and that kind of thing. But they also have a big focus on including the entire city. As well as red carpet events, there are lots of events for the public.
The Film Festival has tried to decentralize – with screenings in cinemas across the city, with the aim of being more and more inclusive. They want people to mingle. So it’s always open – you don't see barriers with guards at the Film Festival.
Another example, the huge Way Out West sign is displayed in a grass area that is public. It’s used by lots of people as a pre-party place and is somewhere for everyone to enjoy the festival vibe (whether you have a ticket to go inside the festival or not).
How do the locals respond?
Americk: Swedes are very supportive of culture and they are very active people, so there is a lot of demand for music festivals here. They enjoy being exposed to new music.
Naida: Gothenburg is an open city. You are always welcome, you just might not see the invitation! People are discreet and don’t shout “come here – this is amazing!”, but there is lots of enthusiasm for these festivals.
Both of your festivals are free, why is that?
Naida: Because a lot of festivals in Gothenburg are free: West Pride is free, the beer festival is free, Vetenskapsfestivalen, Gothenburg Festival (previously Kulturkalas) – they're all free! It is in Gothenburg’s culture to have free events and festivals. They're good for the community.
Americk: Honestly, I do it for the love. I'm just grateful to all the people who wanted to donate some time to help me. I’d met a lot of talented people in the city and many aren’t aware of how talented they are. So I created a platform for them to realize their talent, give them exposure.
Interested in going to a festival in Gothenburg?
West Pride is on 12-16th June, 2019.
All My Friends Are Stars is on 3rd August, 2019.
For the annual city-wide festivals like West Pride and Gothenburg Film Festival, see our Events in Gothenburg. If you are interested in smaller, lesser-known festivals, then keep an eye on the What's On page.
Banner Image: Beatrice Tornros, Goteborg & Co
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