Way Out West
Have you heard of Way Out West festival? Located in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden (and no, not the home of Batman), I headed there to find out more on its 10th anniversary.
Spanning three days and a record 33,000 attendees, it's a non-camping festival. You'll need a hostel, hotel or Airbnb but don't book too last minute. I ended up in a last minute Airbnb from hell (more soon) before jumping ship to a hostel. Whether you like camping or not, it's a welcome relief to be able to leave at midnight for a bed.
What is it?
It's in Slottsskogen Park; think Hyde Park size but New Forest landscape. It's super easy to get to by tram or by walking seeing as it's located in the middle of the city. What I really loved about the festival is that it's vegetarian alongside being milk free since 2012. As someone who is currently testing for lactose intolerances, I was amazed by the choices there. Oat milk coffee, nachos, Quorn curry, and of course CHURROS which I had every day I was there. Taste was definitely not sacrificed. They're constantly doing their bit to save the planet alongside this with biodegradable cutlery, eco-friendly merchandise and recycling bins galore. It's obviously working after they were named 'Environmental Hero of the Year' in 2013 by World Wildlife Fund.
The line up over the course of the festival was a mixed bag. Whilst over half were Swedish bands and singers, it ranged from Morrisey and Eagles of Death Metal to Zara Larsson and Jamie XX. And of course Sia closing the show in a spectacular combo of live and pre-recorded videos. My favourites?
Chvrches, the amazing Scottish band who have always been fantastic live. James Bay, who actually surprised me with how engaging he was with the crowd. Dua Lipa, the up and coming star with the single Hotter Than Hell and whose vocals are off the scales. Jack Garratt who obviously thought "fuck it, I'll do vocals, keyboard, drums and guitar all by myself." Zara Larsson was somewhat a disappointment as her voice wasn't the best live (even if her dancers were on point).
I even managed to catch Massive Attack, Beth Orton, Big Sean and Stormzy, if not really my style.
Of course, with festivals comes the chance of bad weather. And my god, was it horrendous for the final two days. The second day I was soaked and miserable for hours. And the third day was so muddy, my New Balance will never look at me in the same way. Luckily the first day was beautiful weather for sitting with a cider and listening to everything whilst wearing a small part of my Scandinavian-inspired wardrobe.
Talking about style; the notion that Swedish people are beautiful and well dressed is definitely not a myth. Both men and women alike had that annoying effortless look that I'm sure takes hours to emulate. One thing I noticed, for a festival, was the lack of prints and playsuits. It was all about retro jeans and culottes; Birkenstocks and Stan Smiths; and braided hair and 90's baseball caps.
What I will say about the Swedish festival is that it is so amazingly well run. Their immersive app covers everything from line ups to maps, and the bands ran completely on time. And even amazing free things to keep you going such as Oatly coffee, Doritos, ASOS braids, charging hot spots and even tattoos. The best thing? The free water on site. You grab a bottle (no caps so no litter) and fill up as much as you want. When you're forking out £2 every hour for a bottle at most events, it's a welcome addition to a festival.
And if you thought it ended there you're wrong. Adequately named Stay Out West (something I might also yell at Kanye if he ever tried to break into my house), locations all around the city have even more music in much more intimate locations to keep the vibe going until the early hours of the morning. I managed to see Dua Lipa from the front row (yet missed Aluna George after collapsing from a heavy final day).
It's also really easy to fly to the city with the airport just 13 miles out. Flying with Norwegian Air, flights can be as cheap as £30, under two hours with Wi-Fi on board.
Whilst I had never heard of it before, Way Out West is one I'll be heading back to again. Even if it is just to try and spot Alexander Skarsgard next time around.
Thanks to Way Out West and We Are Full Fat for one of the most amazing experiences ever!