With the smell of spring newly in the air and the memory of dark winter days once again completely erased from my memory (thanks, sunshine), a lust for musically accompanied wander has taken hold of me. It’s time to plan for and gush about festivals, folks.
I believe in soulmates and I believe that I found my musical equivalent of one in Heartland Festival, to which I now aim to return every year of its beautiful existence. As luck would have it, a friend of mine got free tickets for last year’s edition and picked me as her plus one. Initially iffy about sleeping in a tent, I soon discovered a world of carefully curated experiences that I want to tell you about.
Who, what, where?
Heartland Festival is a meeting place of music, live talks, culinary experiences and contemporary art – all in the garden of breathtaking Egeskov Castle, in the small town of Kværndrup, south of Odense.
Headed by Ulrik Ørum-Petersen, 2018 marks the third year of this magical gathering.
For the ears
This year’s line up once again offers a mix of local and international names. The thirty-something acts include headliners like Patti Smith & Her Band, LCD Soundsystem, The The and Van Morrison, complemented by British Rag’n’Bone Man and Slowdive and given a local twist à la Lykke Li and MØ to enumerate a few.
In a space where everything deserves attention, the two stages take turns blasting music and the crowd shifts between concerts up and down the hill. You can afford to not compromise and that has to be my favorite thing about the program.
For the mind
Live talks are a hallmark of Heartland and the stuff of podcasts, with conversations ranging from the future of sex to the intricacies of war to responsibility in the arts. The Talks program consists of two parts: Heartland Talks and Future Talks, Salman Rushdie and Slavoj Žižek being two of the notable names of 2018.
Walking out of the Talks tent and onto the castle grounds only to run into Olafur Eliasson chilling on the grass after his talk is a sign of a good festival if there ever was one.
For the taste buds
Nothing will wake you up like being offered a bug shake while sipping your coffee by a bonfire. Like all else, food is an experience at Heartland and they strive to bring the best of local and international cuisine, with the food lineup counting nearly a dozen names.
Banquets and secret garden meals can be enjoyed in the early summer weather. Quick meals are diverse and delicious and can be purchased between concerts at the many food stands. My favorite, however, remains the ice cream kiosk.
For the body
No one does garden furniture like a castle does. At Egeskov, it feels as though the living room extends into the outdoors. The branch canopy is lined with chandeliers and the grounds littered with giant swings, rocking chairs, outdoors beds – you name it.
When you’ve done enough standing and it’s time to stretch those legs, what better way to do it then with yoga by the lake? If you’re less of a flexible person, there’s always a chance to chill in the sauna or hot tub in the woods.
Volunteers young and old smilingly usher and check wristbands and gather litter throughout the weekend. Having 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds work side by side gives a genuine sense of community.
If you are a parent or a forever child, you’ll be thrilled to explore the playground area. Fun fact: when a kid is given a spray can to ‘vandalize’ a car, they’ll very likely scribble an adorable ‘Hi, mom’ on its side and stuff said car with toys.
For the heart
Heartland is so much more than a stretch of plastic littered party land. It is century old trees, meticulously mowed grass and hardly any mud. It is a huge garden party that somehow still feels intimate. At Heartland Festival everything is heartfelt and the sense of amplified togetherness fills the summer air. See you there?
Heartland Festival runs between May 31st and June 2nd 2018 and tickets are still available.