A New Festival Comes to Copenhagen

A Danish-American collaboration, Haven celebrates the best of both worlds — music, art and beer.

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There is a new festival in the town of Copenhagen. HAVEN is the result of a collaboration between Danish food entrepreneur Claus Meyer, the Dessner-brothers from the band The National, and the founder of Mikkeller beer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. The festival focuses on music, food, and beer, but not necessarily in that order.

Denmark in New York interviewed Alex Maiolo, who works with PR and media at the HAVEN festival. A music and Denmark lover, the American was happy to get the opportunity to work with both at the same time.

How well do you know Denmark?
I have been traveling to Denmark for almost a decade now, and consider it my second home. I first arrived during an October sleet storm and still loved it, so it was meant to be. Danish summers are so absolutely glorious it makes the winters worth it. I’ve certainly spent plenty of winters there too, though. Neither Julefrokost [the Christmas lunch] nor cities under siege with fireworks have killed me yet.

How did you get to work for HAVEN?
When you’re an American who is in love with Denmark you take notice of other Americans who are too. I try to promote Danish music and culture any way I can, through the publications I write for, the work I do with the South By Southwest music festival, and just as a de facto ambassador in general. I had never heard of a festival like this one, so I felt compelled to ask “what can I do? How can I help?´”

How did the collaboration between Meyer, Mikkeller, and the Dessner brothers begin?
The short answer is they wanted to build a better beast. Music festivals usually fall into one of two categories: a wild party in the mud, or an exclusive event that seems to have more to do with fashion than music. The partners felt there was a middle way: we can enjoy nice things, and invite everybody who is interested in them to come and experience all of it in one beautiful setting. It’s a beer festival with a music and food component. Or you can consider a food festival, where the father of the New Nordic Cuisine movement is demonstrating how to roast a goat, while the father of punk rock, Iggy Pop, is playing, and you’re drinking some of the most inventive beer being brewed today. It would be selling it way short to just call it a “music festival.”

Why is Copenhagen a good location for a new festival?
Scandinavia, particularly Denmark, has been getting some much deserved good press in the past few years. The U.K. is mad for it, but here in the U.S. we’ve yet to reach “Peak Hygge.” People are just now starting to really understand both the “casual cool” thing you all practically invented, and it feels nice to see gender equality, a focus on a good education, Green policies, and the work/life balance in action, in the current political climate. These are the things that made Aaron Dessner decide Denmark was where he wanted to raise his children. The music scene in Denmark is healthy, the food options are off the hook, it’s international, manageable, and friendly. It’s a piece of cake to get in and out of Kastrup. My feeling is HAVEN is the ultimate impetus for people to finally visit. “You’ve heard about Copenhagen. This is a unique festival that embodies much of what makes it special. Come experience HAVEN, and treat the city as its backdrop. Stay for a few days, and visit the rest of this beautiful country. Get a bike and tour the city, and you’ll see what the fuss is all about.”

What are the Danish values promoted at HAVEN?
The idea that regular people should be encouraged to experience beauty, culture, design, interesting food, and camaraderie. It’s not just for other people, it’s for you, if you want it. I recall the first time I walked into a regular Danish person’s house and saw a Poulsen lamp, Montana bookcase, and Jacobsen chair. I associate these things with high design, but Danes make it a priority to tie fine things into their everyday surroundings, like it’s just normal to do so. I picked up on this aesthetic philosophy immediately when I learned about HAVEN. It’s a wholly Danish way of thinking.

What does the future hold for HAVEN?
HAVEN would love to establish itself as an annual event. There are other events in Denmark that are a little nicer than typical festivals, but none of them are right in Copenhagen, nor are they as multifaceted. I imagine people are going to pick up that within the first few minutes of being there, understand the uniqueness of it, and already start planning to attend next year.

HAVEN takes place at Refshaleøen from August 11–12.

Silke Baumann is the Press, Culture & Public Diplomacy Intern at the Consulate General of Denmark in New York.

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The Official Medium Blog for the Consulate General of Denmark in New York. For all things Danish, #DenmarkInNY.

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