The first Roskilde Festival was held on 28 and 29 August 1971, originally named the Sound Festival. It was created by the two high schoolers Mogens Sandfær and Jesper Switzer Møller and promoter Carl Fischer, and inspired by festivals and youth gatherings like Newport, Isle of Wight and Woodstock. It was characterized mainly by poor management but also great enthusiasm. The festival’s inaugural year saw roughly 20 bands ranging from folk, jazz, rock and pop genres all playing on a single stage, which lasted for two days with some 10,000–13,000 visitors.
Roskilde Festival is the largest music and arts festival in Northern Europe. It’s also one of the oldest, dating back to 1971. In 1972, the festival was taken over by the Roskilde Foundation, which has since run the festival as a non-profit organization for development and support of music, culture and humanism. In 2014, the Roskilde Foundation provided festival participants with the opportunity to nominate and vote upon which organizations should receive funds raised by the festival
During the festival the number of volunteers increases to about 30,000. The volunteers provide camping security, build stages, staff the festival stalls.
The Roskilde Festival was Denmark’s first music-oriented festival created for hippies and today covers more of the mainstream youth from Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. Most festival visitors are Danes, but there are also many visitors from elsewhere, especially the other Scandinavian countries and Germany.
Roskilde is a city 30 km (19 mi) west of Copenhagen on the Danish island of Zealand. With a population of 51,916 (as of 1 January 2022), the city is a business and educational centre for the region and the 10th largest city in Denmark. It is governed by the administrative council of Roskilde Municipality.
Roskilde, which developed as the hub of the Viking land and sea trade routes over a thousand years ago, is one of Denmark’s oldest cities. From the 11th century until 1443, it was the capital of Denmark. By the Middle Ages, with the support of kings and bishops, it had become one of the most important centres in Scandinavia. The Saxo Grammaticus and other early sources associate the name Roskilde (meaning ‘Ro’s spring’) with the legendary King Roar who possibly lived there in the 6th century.
The old town of Roskilde is centred around the main square, Stændertorvet, just south of the cathedral. The original street plan is preserved in nearby Skomagergade, Algade and Hestetorvet although most of the buildings were rebuilt after serious fires in the 18th century. The area is flanked to the north by two large parks, Byparken and Folkeparken, which stretch down to Roskilde Fjord.