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For five days at the beginning of June, Copenhagen transforms into a huge street party. Music stages are set in every alley in the city’s coolest neighborhoods, music is heard from morning until late at night and locals leave their beloved bicycles at home, put their comfy shoes on and hit the streets for Distortion Festival.
This year Distortion is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Back in 1998, a group of people decided to organize backyard grills, underground parties and events that attracted approximately 200 people. It was in 2007 that Distortion started forming into the event as we know it today. Seeing that one single party at Enghave Plads attracted an enthusiastic crowd of 1,500 people and the number of guests at the Final Partly two days later was doubled, the organizers of Distortion thought it was about time to take the next step. So, in 2008 they opened a semi-professional entrepreneurship, made the necessary arrangements with Copenhagen City Council and relaunched Distortion. After that, it wasn’t long before the festival became one of the must-visit events in Copenhagen with established and upcoming artists of the electronic, reggae and dub scene hitting the stage every year.
Describing the vibe and atmosphere of Distortion is quite difficult. Simply because it’s not only the music and the thousands of people that make this street party one of the unique events in Copenhagen. It’s much more than that. During Distortion, you’ll see Copenhageners of all types and ages mingling and dancing together, the mixed smell of street food and beer lingers in the air, locals sing and dance on their balconies and window-watch the party from above. You just get the feeling that the whole city is partying together. Plus, with Danes being tipsy from early afternoon on, you get the chance to see their relaxed and talkative side.
If, however, you’re agoraphobic, you may want to avoid this event. Every street is jam-packed and it can take hours to cross a short distance for which you would usually need just a few minutes. The streets of the neighborhood where Distortion takes place are closed on that day, bus routes change and it’s one of the very few occasions you won’t see thousands of bikes crossing the city. So, you better avoid riding yours, too.
Distortion takes place in different neighborhoods with Nørrebro always being the area that marks the beginning of the five-day street party. On the second day, stages are set in Vesterbro and for the final two days, the festival is transferred to Refshaleøen (Distortion Ø), Copenhagen’s newest hip area.
The free street-concerts end just before midnight but worry not, because the party isn’t over. When the stages are unset Distortion Club starts and some of the city’s most known nightclubs open their doors. The events that are part of the Distortion Club aren’t free, but with a relatively low admission fee you get to see some of the top names of the international and local music scene. Ghostface Killah, Injury Reserve and Big Freedia are some of the artists you’ll find in this year’s lineup.
Keep an eye out on the official website for new announcements, and if you’re in Copenhagen from May 30th to June 3rd, make sure to stop by Distortion at least one of the five days. You don’t want to miss the event the whole city talks about every summer.