Heartworkers at Heartland Festival 2023

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Heartworkers at Heartland Festival 2023

This year we were Heartworkers at this year’s Heartland Festival. As a Heartworker, you get a free festival ticket in exchange for volunteering either before, during or after the festival. We had to help pack down the stages after the festival. It was also our first time at the festival.

Heartland Festival is a three-day festival held every year at Egeskov Castle on Funen. It’s a festival in beautiful surroundings that also caters to a slightly different segment – a more “mature” and middle-aged audience – than Roskilde Festival does. But that doesn’t mean it’s a boring festival. There’s lots of cool and exciting music, a festival atmosphere and exciting talks. And art and food are also an important part of the festival.

A great program – the year before!

As mentioned, it was our first time at Heartland. The festival has been held since 2016, with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when it was canceled due to the corona situation!

But why we went to Heartland this year is a funny story. We’ve considered attending before, as acts like Slowdive, The Smashing Pumpkins and The Raconteurs have played at the festival. The full line up for summer festivals is rarely finalized early in the year. But the program for Heartland Festival already looked exciting. Bands The Raveonettes, Psyched Up Janis, Kashmir and Baby in Vain were announced. So we decided that this year we would both participate and volunteer at the festival. We signed up and bought space for our campervan.

During the spring, something dawned on us! In our eagerness to experience some great music, we seemed to have missed a detail. It was the program from the year before that we kept stumbling upon! The “real” line up for 2023, in our opinion, was not nearly as exciting. Robbie Williams and Andreas Odbjerg are not our favorites. But maybe Sting and Nik & Jay could deliver a few good concerts!

The boys from 3500 Værløse and a walk on the moon

Despite the initial disappointment with the music program, there were many exciting and interesting artists on the program. Some of those we want to highlight are Melody Ghazal and AySay. Both played on the small Diorama stage in the “forest”. They were really good and were among the best concerts of the festival. They are some of our young upcoming artists and you could really feel the joy and enthusiasm in their playing.

PRISMA’s concert on the Highland stage was also definitely one of the best concerts. With their fast-paced music, they manage to get the crowd going. They did the same when we first heard them at Høst Møn in 2021 (see Music Festival at Vestmøn )

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The concert with Sting was actually quite excellent. Of course, he played on the big Greenfield stage, where the place was also packed. Sting played Walking on the Moon and Message in a Bottle, among others. Having grown up with The Police on cassette tapes, it was great to hear some of the old songs live.

And then there was The Minds of 99, who also played in front of a very packed audience. This is a band that really knows what they’re doing when it comes to live performances – and definitely one of the best concerts of the festival.

But the party was created by the boys from 3500 Værløse: Nik & Jay. You can say a lot about them. But they got a big party going in front of the stage – everyone sang along, even the youngsters sang along to all the songs. Perhaps the “funniest” concert of the festival.

Swedish band Cardigans, on the other hand, disappointed with a boring concert and did not live up to expectations. And another of the festival’s headliners, Robbie Williams, talked way too much. But we did get to hear some of his hits before moving on. We had a blast dancing and doing moves at the concerts with Mø and Fatboy Slim, who both played on the Highland stage.

Twelve hours of packing down

Saturday was the last day of the festival, but for us the festival wasn’t really over. We were Heartworkers and had a 12-hour volunteer shift on Sunday!

There was a communal breakfast before the shift, which started at 8:30am. We had to get up early as we also had to move Cama Coche from the caravan site to the regular festival parking lot.

When the alarm woke us up on Sunday morning, we were glad we hadn’t partied and drunk all night. We were pretty tired. But we quickly got up, packed up the bed and lowered the roof, and moved the car to a new parking lot.

The main entrance – that is, the gate to Egeskov Castle Park – turned out to be closed and locked! So we had to take the longer walk around and through the camping area. It was in front of the Highland stage that we met up with the other members of our volunteer team. Later in the day, we talked to an elderly lady who had climbed over the gate. She didn’t want to make the long walk!

After some waiting, we had the promised coffee and breakfast. Now we stood with our group and waited for something to do. This must be what it feels like to be a day laborer. You show up, offering your labor to whoever needs it. Finally, our team was chosen. We were going to help pack down the Podium and Diorama stages. This included loading stage, sound and lighting equipment onto some large trucks. Luckily, we didn’t have to do it alone. There were also some professionals traveling around Europe building stages at various festivals.

It was a long and hard day, but it was also very fun and enjoyable. And we got an insight into some of the things that also go on at big events and festivals.


Heartland is not just a music festival. It’s also a festival where talks, culinary experiences and contemporary art are an equally important part. The music is the main reason we were there – and then the other things come along as extra experiences.

The first talk we attended on the Podium Stage was not a success. It was a talk between musician and author Nick Cave and journalist Seán O’Hagan. They were talking about their book ‘Faith, Hope and Carnage’. An expectant audience was packed on the benches under the tent. You had to arrive very early if you wanted a seat.

Like many others, we stood outside the tent, far from the stage. It wasn’t long before we lost concentration. It was almost impossible to hear what was being said on stage. The speaker sound could not reach outside the tent. Which it really shouldn’t, as it would “disturb” the surroundings. At the same time, we were disturbed by everything that was going on at the festival site. We finally gave up and found a place to sit in the sun and talk instead.

On the other hand, we had better experiences with the Salon Stage – the “red tent”. In principle, you could only attend the different talks if you had a seat inside. I say in principle, because unlike the Podium stage, there was a big screen set up outside. It worked much better, even though there were also “disturbances” from eating and talking guests, a wine bar and birds of prey flying overhead.

It can get hot in the tent and the benches can be hard to sit on for long periods. But we attended an interesting talk entitled “Can Mars save us from ourselves?”. Later, we watched an exciting talk about AI (artificial intelligence) on the big screen outside.

Art and food experiences

We also looked at art and had something to eat during the festival. It was decent, but there was nothing that impressed us – it was more what you would expect at a festival. Most of the art could be seen and experienced in the castle garden, but most of it seemed like festival hype.

The food experience consisted mostly of food available for purchase from various food stalls around. A lot of champagne was drunk during the festival. Whether this was due to the participant segment or because it was served in real glasses, we’re not entirely sure. But the result was a lot of broken glasses on the grass!

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that we didn’t participate in any of the special food events that were held during the festival. So of course we can’t comment on them.

You can read more about the festival on the website heartlandfestival.dk

All photos © Bente Steffensen & Uffe Damm Andersen, unless otherwise stated.