29 June, 2019

Volunteer at summer festivals in Sweden

What’s every newbie’s favourite topic in the support groups online? How to make friends in Sweden. All newbies and ‘oldies’ have different stories and ideas, suggestions, and so on. I will share with one my story how to make friends in Sweden before winter: volunteer at summer festivals.

During my first summers in Sweden, I was hitchhiking around one to another festival. They were often the small festivals that only had a facebook event and no advertisement. Most importantly, I always went a week or two before to build the festival area together with people who organized the event.

Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

My festival story

I get to know about these events through people I met during Midsommar. As we know, Midsommar is the first social fun event when everyone has taken down the social codex rules and are easily approachable. Likewise, I can say about Swedish at the summer festivals. They plan their summer ahead and also have their party outfits and glitter planned through winter months. The change from winter to summer Swede is a big difference. In addition, another newbie wrote how summer transforms Sweden, it’s true!

Workcamp meeting, Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography
Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

What do you do?

The duties or jobs are different at each festival. I went early on the “creative work camp” weeks. Often I did errands, like, clean up the dance floor and the forest paths from garden weed. Moreover, at the creative festivals, people needed an extra hand in their art installation projects, so, you got to do various things. Then during the festival, all of us – the event planner team and volunteers had a sign-up schema for different work stations – cafe, bar, stage, etc.

As we were together 24h everyday building and creating, cooking and laughing, swimming and resting from hard work in the evenings. It felt like a big family. Therefore I needed to plan to get my own time too (which I need to my introvert soul). I woke up within sunrise before everyone – a jog from camp to take a dip in the lake and enjoyed my coffee time alone. During the festival weekend, I woke up (or was awake) to clean up space from beer cans and bottles – any trash I found. So to say, you choose how much or what you want to work with.

Sjönevadfesten, 2013. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

New friendships

To sum up, through these festivals, I made long-lasting friendships. People I met grow close in my heart and it was harder to say goodbye after 2,5 weeks together creating creative utopias in the middle of forests. When at the work camp, it felt we lived in a different universe of Sweden. Also to mention, in my experience from newbies usually we were 1-3 at these camps, so, it really was full of Swedish experience to me/us. I loved this side of Sweden, but who doesn’t? Every festival anywhere is our favourite memory of summer.

Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography
Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

Where you can volunteer this summer?

Below the text, I have made a small list in my personal opinion which I call “different Sweden” festivals. Although I have not been to all of them, instead I heard about. So, they all are well recognized and recommended. It’s never too late to sign up as a volunteer, however, if you can’t this year, save this information and do it next time!

Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

The list of summer festivals in Sweden:

  • Urkult – a place where folk and world’s music meets up in the north forest by a lake.
  • Into the Woods – a new festival created by people of the village Unnaryd. A festival where you can learn new skills – a week of workshops
  • Ölands roots – one of the most colourful festivals an annual reggae music festival on the island by Kalmar
  • Way out west – probably the biggest and most known party on this list, and you get to hear lots of popular music
  • Midnight light festival – you can never go wrong by choosing a festival far away in a place you’d likely never visit up in North
  • The medieval week on Gotland – do I need any comments? I guess any GoT fans would love to join this party!
  • Säljerydfestival – one of a kind on a farm near Växjö, Småland.
  • Secret Island Nation Festival – it doesn’t happen anymore, but worth mentioning, check their page to see the photos and be inspired! Maybe we collectively send them emails to start the festival again?
Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

Go and be inspired by the Swedish festival community

So in short, check the list, email to which festival sounds for you, then just find your dancefloor outfit and head to any of these festivals. You’ll meet a bit of a different Sweden. I promise you, if you go to one of these, you’ll hear about a few other weekend festivals which perhaps don’t have commercial advertising. Experiencing summer festivals in Sweden must be on your newbie’s list! Enjoy!

Please add in comments any festival in Sweden you know/have been to and volunteered! The longer and various is the list, better it is to find for many people what they would like to!

Sjönevadfesten, 2014. Photo: Elina Nomad photography

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Elina Nomad
"The queen of the roads in Sweden", that's how my newly met Swedish friends called me. To Sweden, I came as a hitchhiker, a nomad with a smartphone capturing my moments. During my exploring, I met a "different Sweden" which is not written about in tourist guides yet. I became curious and fascinated by "Swedishness" which I also explored in academic studies a bit. Currently, I am more or less off the road as a freelance photographer and community manager, and content creator. Occasionally I am a house sitter in the Skåne countryside. About my adventures, I keep a diary blog and Instagram. Hope my stories inspire you to explore Sweden more!