Saturday, August 13, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Denmark’s biggest street party is back

The Distortion festival returns to Copenhagen’s streets for the first time in three years with a new format meant to satisfy fans and critics alike.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CN) — People walking around Copenhagen this week are at high risk of hearing a real banger.

For five days, selected streets in the capital city are hosting Denmark’s biggest street party, known as Distortion. The festival is back after a three-year slumber because of Covid-19 lockdowns.

What started as a one-day festival with 400 participants in 1998 transformed into an event with 150.000 daily guests in 2016, with attendance numbers most likely not dropping before the pandemic hit.

Grass areas are limited at the 2022 Distortion festival. There is not a seat for anyone, but guests can always check out Copenhagen’s City Hall tower for a quick breather from the festival. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)

While Distortion attracts many joyful participants, local Copenhagen critics highlight the event's size as a major problem. It requires crucial traffic hotspots to be closed for days and the music keeps blasting for hours through tiny streets in the capital.

For more than a decade young participants also dominated the party, making it tough for other potential audiences to join the fun. The aftermath, with trash lying on the street around urine-soaked doors and gates, has received the most criticism from those not keen on the public street party, with opponents even nicknaming the event “Pisstortion.”

The Distortion festival in Copenhagen has been dominated by Denmark’s youth for many years, which is something event organizers wanted to change by introducing initiatives aimed at other audiences starting in 2022. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)
If you are lucky enough to live in one of inner Copenhagen’s many expensive apartments or know someone who does, you may be able to experience Distortion in the comfort of your living room. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)

After two canceled festivals in 2020 and 2021, Distortion was able to finally invite everyone back for the 2022 party, which started on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

But this year has a different format, after organizers listened to concerns from critics and the municipality of Copenhagen.

“We want to lower the street party’s growth because people should not use brokvarterne [The Bridge Quarters] as festival spots. Distortion is a city party, not a youth party,” Thomas Fleurquin, the festival's director, told Danish media. The Bridge Quarters includes the Copenhagen neighborhoods of Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro.

A new arrangement for the 2022 festival in Copenhagen is Dog Distortion, where attendees can bring their canine friend for a meetup at a small park in the Vesterbro neighborhood with treats, dog dancing shows and free professional training consultancy awaits them. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)
Multiple long tables are set on streets without music stages at the 2022 Distortion festival in Copenhagen, so guests can enjoy food or beverages and have a nice chat. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)

For the first time, Distortion is dividing up the festival into sections. There's an area for dogs, children's parties and a spot with long dinner tables, among others.

And for young people? They can continue to party hard. That is only allowed in certain areas, where you must pay for entrance. But those who do will get to enjoy some big names on stage.

The 2022 Distortion festival features DJs and musicians with diverse backgrounds. Some are more famous than others. The event is a huge opportunity for new artists looking for a breakthrough. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)
Critics often complain about the noise Distortion brings to Copenhagen. But here is a section that is hard to criticize. Distortion offers a silent disco where a pair of headphones is all it takes to have a blast, accompanied by live silent disco DJs, party smoke and bubbles. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)
Different DJs and music scenes can be found on any street included in Copenhagen’s Distortion festival. Some stages are more basic than others, with little to no distance from the audience. (Lasse Sørensen/Courthouse News)

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.