2019 was a record year for many festivals across the UK, Europe and the USA in terms of ticket sales and attendance. As these once small and independent festivals become globally recognised names, it’s difficult to imagine that some festivals started out in a small field with less than 1000 people attending. Take Wacken Open Air Festival for example. This now widely respected Festival that sees over 70,000 people flood its gates every year started out in 1990 with just 800 people and 6 local bands from Germany. Now, Wacken is gearing up to blow the roof off 2020 with headline acts such as Judas Priest & Amon Amarth. The festival also sold out all 70K tickets in less than 24 hours.

New rock and metal festivals are popping up all over the globe and one country in particular is dominating the Rock and Metal scene right now so it only makes sense to delve deeper into the cold heartlands of Scandinavia to see how grassroots festivals actually begin.

The temperature might be freezing but the welcome is very warm.

Now in its 3rd year heading into 2020, GraveFest is the latest independent festival to grace the scene. A small scale festival started by musician Rob Törnqvist in 2018 featuring some of the best local talent from Stockholm and surrounding areas.

Gravefest is the perfect example of a new young passionate festival buried in a forest with the potential to become a real contender in the coming years as another widely respected gathering of rock and metal fans.

We caught up with its founder to see exactly what it takes to start your own Rock and Metal festival!

I've actually had the idea for years! But it's always seemed Impossible
- Rob Törnqvist

For those that haven’t heard of Gravefest, can you tell us a bit about it, where it is, and the overall ethos of the festival?

Well, it started out as a small Festival themed party, for those of us who couldn't go to Sweden Rock, so I made an event and a band (A broken frame) asked if they could play. A few weeks before Pedro joined in on planning and organizing.

But yeah, it's a small rock/metal festival in the Forrest of Stockholm, located in my backyard actually, we're basically trying to catch the best parts of going to a festival, which is drinking at the campsite, and seeing bands, so we combined the two, where the camping and the festival area is the same, because it's all about having fun!

Gravefest 2019, you produced some really unique merchandise for the festival, along with great branding and marketing. Where did the idea for this merch come from?

Most of it came from the creators of the merch, I was at a party and met a guy with a brewery, we got talking and thus the Gravefest beer was convinced. We always wanted to have Tshirts, and the supplier of the t-shirts (metal stuff merch) told me they had all these different things aswell which they could print on, so we just went with it. Then ofcourse, my friend Stone Sinna, the guitarplayer in Lustboys of Eden, Sparkle Kick, and (my band) Grave Robbert is trying to start a media/design company, do he came up with the great idea of making a trailer movie, and he also helped out with designing the poster and logos

Do you think people need to undertake any type of educational study that would give them the tools to start their own festival? Or is it just motivation and passion you need?

It would probably help, I mean, me, Pedro and Jonte have ZERO education in this area, but we've got the passion, and to be honest, That passion and willpower will always be better than any kind of education, it's all trial and error, we've learned alot, and will continue to learn

What are the most complicated aspects of putting on your own festival and how do you tackle them?

First and foremost, the weather, since we set the date a year in advance, and it's outdoors, it's impossible to predict. We just bought a bunch of party tents to help shelter the stage and the crowd from both the sun and the rain.

When did you first get the idea of starting your own Rock and Metal festival?

I've actually had the idea for years! But it's always seemed Impossible, and like I said earlier, the idea of Gravefest started out as a festival themed party, and it's grown alot in these two years.

What “First Time “ mistakes would you tell people to avoid or be careful of when starting a festival?

Keep track of the budget! Haha, Also, toilets and food is good to make sure people have access to

Can you briefly describe the time scale and process you go through to put on your festival?

We set the date about 1 year ahead, pretty much a few weeks after the current years festival, then we start looking for bands, we try to have all the bands done atleast 3 months before, so we have that time to sort out the designs and merch. To be honest, we just rolled with it this year, ask me again next year now that we've tried to organize it a bit more, haha

Do you need to apply for any type of permission from local authorities to put on your festival?

Depending on what type of festival you're going for, and if you own or rent the land, since I own the land I only need to check in with the neighbors a few weeks before about the volume and such. But otherwise you need to get the permit for loud volumes, alcohol and such.

Are you hoping to grow the festival?

The dream would be like Graspop, But, we're more than happy to keep it intimate aswell, as long as everyone is having the time of their lives, size doesn't matter

Next years Gravefest will be held 3-4 of July 2020 with the first bands to be announced soon! Come one come all!

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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