Way Out West festival, Gothenburg, Sweden

Posted by Anouk van den Eijnde at 05:04 on Tuesday 31 August 2010

Festival goers taking a break at the entrance of Way Out West festival in Gothenburg. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeFestival goers taking a break at the entrance of Way Out West festival in Gothenburg. Photo: Anouk van den Eijnde

Way Out West music festival has been running only for four years but has quickly gained a reputation as being one of the best festivals in Europe. For three days Gothenburg is home to the crème de la crème  of national and international music, including impressive International acts M.I.A, Iggy & The Stooges, The Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, the XX (a personal favourite), Mumford & Sons and upcoming Swedish acts Lykke Li, Shout Out Louds, Miike Snow and Radio Dept.

There was no camping gear involved in this festival. I simply hopped off the train in central Gothenburg, dropped off my bag at the hotel and strolled over to Slottskogen Park in the lively Linné area of town (about 20 mins walk from the station) with just a handbag and some wellies. Streams of trendy Swedes were walking alongside me and many were on their bikes - I was impressed to see that there was an especially allocated cycle parking outside the gates.

Allocated bike parking outside the festival gates. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeAllocated bike parking outside the festival gates. Photo: Anouk van den Eijnde

On enterring the festival, my first impression was that it was very green (in the literal sense) - pine trees were towering above me and I could see small hills, forests and fields in the distance. I heard there were even elks and a duck pond. The mostly local crowd were relatively fresh-faced for a festival probably because they're heading home every night rather than camping (a civilised festival!). I was struck by the number of people sipping coffee instead of beer too (people in Gothenburg really love their coffee, and there's no Starbucks in the vicinity). As I caught the last bit of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra playing with Swedish band The Soundtrack of Our Lives, I felt right at home.

Revellers enjoying the spectacular M.I.A performing. Photo: Annika BerglundRevellers enjoying the spectacular M.I.A performing. Photo: Annika BerglundThere are three main stages which means you can pretty much catch all the acts you want to see. I liked some of the smaller tents too - I enjoyed chilling at the Santo Domingo coffee bar and BBQ which includes a record shop, home-baked goods, communal wooden tables and fairy lights in the trees. I also liked the big cinema screen showing short films under the stars. On top of the great acts, there is a unique network of after-hours gigs taking place at venues across the city every night. At midnight on saturday England's very own Laura Marling was playing at a beautiful old Church 'Annedalskyrkan' right near the festival site.

So apart from taking place in a park, what makes Way Out West green? For a start, it is environmentally-certified which means that the organisers take preserving the park's environment very seriously. I have never seen so many recycling bins, different ones for glass, paper, pastic, and even compost. There are hundreds of young volunteers who genuinely seem happy to be picking up after festival-goers - as I was having my dinner, they even took my trash and put it in the right bins for My tasty chicken burger served on a seeded bun with Swedish root vegetable crisps, yum. Photo: Anouk van den EijndeMy tasty chicken burger served on a seeded bun with Swedish root vegetable crisps, yum. Photo: Anouk van den Eijndeme. The food served is organic and local where possible and there are some decent vegetarian options. In the eco area where I had my dinner, there was a choice of three different types of burgers, beef, chicken or chickpea accompanied by Swedish root vegetable crisps and served on healthy seed bread. Instead of having to buy ridiculous amounts of bottled water, there are water fountains dotted around the site, and get this, the security guards at the gigs had giant water bottles in case anyone felt faint or dehydrated. Nice touch.

Way Out West has an edge - it not only has fantastic acts playing in gorgeous parkland, it's also in the centre of a hidden gem of a city that really is worth exploring.

Festival goers rocking out at Way Out West. Photo: Annika BerglundFestival goers rocking out at Way Out West. Photo: Annika Berglund

Way Out West - Essential Information for 2010:
It was: Friday 13 and Saturday 14 August, with club performances from Thursday 12 until Saturday 14
Where: Slottsskogen city park in central Gothenburg.
Tickets: 1,390 Swedish crowns (£115) for a full two day festival pass including club performances.
Way Out West website: www.wayoutwest.se/english
For more info on Gothenburg, and to book hotels online: www.goteborg.com
For more info on West Sweden: www.westsweden.com

Getting to Way Out West by train:
I took the train from London to Gothenburg via Brussels, Cologne and Copenhagen.
See full itinerary for train from London to Gothenburg

Price:
Return fares from London to Gothenburg start at £253 in standard class. All prices are per person subject to availability.
Book your tickets on Rail Europe's website

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