Malmöfestivalen, for whom?


One of the great music shows during Malmöfestivalen in 2014

After moving to Malmö it didn’t take long time to sense a special relationship between the locals and the iconic Malmöfestivalen. But when digging a little deeper, it isn’t as obvious as I first thought.

Don’t get me wrong but I like city festivals.  Every city has some kind of cultural festival that either represent what the city is all about or vice versa, the city is built around the festival. But there is one thing that Malmö does that no other city does to my knowledge. They overdo it drastically – They sell the best part of the city TWICE.

What do I mean? Well, 357 days a year, Malmö say that they want to have a “strong” downtown area for shopping, restaurants, services and everything we usually define as city life. But then 8 days a year they do everything opposite. They cover the most expensive window displays in the city with trailers that either sell cheap (ofter counterfeit) merchandise or fast food without (a proper) health permit. All of them have in common that they don’t pay taxes (like the others).

I seriously doubt that this sweater was made in the Converse factory.

I seriously doubt that this sweater was made in the Converse factory.

I simply don’t see any “culture” in going downtown to buy a fake Converse hoodie or salami from another EU country.

So what does Malmöfestivalen have to offer?

  • It is a food festival – Gustav Adolfs torg is the place
  • it is an amusement park – spread around 2 or 3 places
  • It is a music festival – 3 main stages and a few others
  • It is a Farmer’s market

These 4 items are all great BUT they don’t work all at the same time. The city can’t handle 100.000 people every day for 8 days in a row. There is NO city in the world that does and that is why others cities don’t have a festival this size.

So what should we do? Well it is obvious. We should have 4 festivals.

Food festival in May. We turn the city into Tivoli in June, we let the music flow in July and have the farmer’s market in August. All of them are big and nice, but none of them overwhelming.

Being forced to reduce prices when 100.000 visitors are in town is not good for the economy.

Being forced to reduce prices when 100.000 visitors are in town is an own-goal caused by the city that gets a lot of taxes from the restaurants.

This will not only solve all the logistics problems and inconvenience that comes with the current setup but it will actually do what the Festival is supposed to do: Fill the city with people all summer long.

The other thing is that this makes the possibility to have the 4 festivals at the most convenient location so we don’t have to close down half of the city. There is no reason to have the amusement park to be held on a bridge or a street anymore, we can use Stortorget or Gustav Adolfs for all the events. That’s what they are made for. The streets are made for cars.

So instead of ruining the business of everyone in the downtown area, let’s use the culture to support and strengthen the business and vice versa. Restaurants don’t have to close for 8 days or give 25% off the bill to survive the 8 days of no parking, traffic jams and folks eating Langos for dinner. But hey, the Langos is “culture” so you don’t even get a receipt.