Rain or shine there is one thing in Sweden that is not missed, unless it’s cancelled. That is Sweden Rock Festival. In its 25th year, Sweden Rock’s amazing and very hard working staff pulled off another year of great music and fun for their fans. What started out as a small local music festival has turned into a large event with more than 33,000 attendees and 82 bands that came to the festival this year. Fans come from Sweden and all around the world to enjoy this event. As each year goes by more and more people share their experience of being at this festival which continues to add more attendees.
This year I talked with many fans at the festival. Some have attended since the first year, others for many years and some who were there for their first time. For me, this was my third Sweden Rock Festival, but certainly not my last. Many of the fans I talked to have the same feelings I do about this festival. It’s a safe place to go and enjoy yourself. You can relax knowing that it’s going to be a fun time. People do drink at this festival, but you don’t see people arguing, fighting or being rude. It’s family friendly and many people being their children. You can always count on SRF to book great bands. Attendees can go for one day or up to all four days of the festival, the choice is yours as long as tickets are still available when you buy them of course. For accommodation there are plenty of options. You can camp, stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast, rent a vacation home, come by caravan/RV or if you get lucky and have friends in the area you can stay with them for the festival. There are also options to take one of the many festival buses that pick up and drop off in the towns around the festival, you can drive and park at the site, you can even ride a bicycle from some areas as there is now a dedicated bike path to take to get there safely.
Fans who attend talk about the event all year round. There are a few dedicated social media groups you can join to talk to others and get all the information you need. You can follow the official Sweden Rock Festival website and their Facebook page and there is a fan group on Facebook with a little over 10,000 members where attendees and fans can go to chat about every festival detail. If you are new to the festival and want to get all the ins and outs of the festival, the people in the group will gladly help answer your questions and make you feel welcome before you get to the festival. Once you get to the festival you will find many people to talk to through out your time there and may even leave with a few new friends to keep in contact with. It’s a fun and friendly environment with some serious music and lots of food vendors on site and beer, lots of beer. One other thing I always mention to people is that unlike many other festivals around the world, even though SRF is done in a remote area, they have the best festival toilets anywhere around, except for venues that have real bathrooms. They use portable toilets at Sweden Rock, but they actually have running water and flush, yet are still portable toilets. So if you avoid festivals because you can’t stomach using a “honey bucket”, “porta-john” or “outhouse” this festival you won’t have to worry about! I know it sounds really odd, but I know many people who won’t use them. So there you have it, the bonus tip that just adds yet one more argument of why you should consider going to Sweden Rock.
Now let’s get to this years festival. 2016 had an amazing line up! Twisted Sister (their last tour ever!), Slayer, Shinedown, King Diamond, Megadeth, Anthrax, Sixx A.M., Halestorm, L.A. Guns (see my interview with them) to name a few! Many great Swedish bands as well (not all are as well known as some of the worldwide acts, but some are): Sabaton (new album “The Last Stand” coming on August 19, see my the interview I did with Sabaton for MetalTitans.com), Entombed A.D., Eclipse (see my interview with them), Soilwork, Amaranthe, King Witch, The Hellacopters and Skitarg just to name a few of the Swedish bands. With five stages, there was a constant show happening during each day of the festival. Many times two bands where on the stage at the same time and fans had to split their dedication halfway into one show and slip off to another stage for half of the other bands show they wanted to see. That’s always a possibility with any festival out there. When there is so much great music, it’s to be expected.
Many of the bands also did signing sessions this year to meet their fans and sign autographs. Some of the highlights this year were: Sixx A.M., Shinedown, Amaranthe, Halestorm, Sabaton, Bonafide and Gamma Ray although many more bands did signing sessions. Some of the band members who performed throughout the festival were also fans and from time to time you could bump into one of your band idols during a show or just walking the festival ground. They were really nice to fans and willing to take photos with them. This is what music is supposed to be about, something that brings people together and at SRF this couldn’t be more true. This festival brings bands and fans together. It brings the people together.
There was only one day with any rain this year and boy did it pour down for a few hours, but it didn’t stop the fans from coming out or the bands from going on. Lita Ford did a book signing session and just before she was to start signing, the skies opened up and let loose. The fans standing in a long queue, with their books in the rain, didn’t waiver. They got their books signed and talked to Lita. This shows the amazing dedication of the fans at this festival. The festival is always prepared for the rain, they even sell rain ponchos at their Sweden Rock Shops that are set up through out the festival site. There are also vendors walking the site selling them from containers. So if you don’t show up prepared for the rain, you have options.
Going as I have myself the last few years, Sweden Rock Festival has become one of my favorite festivals. I look forward to returning each year and meeting up with all the great friends I have made over the years who come from all over the world for the music. Until next year Sweden Rock, tack så mycket och vi ses nästa år!