Oya Didn’t Miss Its U.K. Divas

Norway’s Oya Festival didn’t miss U.K. divas Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen and celebrated the run up to its 10th anniversary by pulling more than 65,000 fans across five days.

The troubled stars pulled out through their much publicized "problems," calling in sick at the 11th hour, but festival booker Claes Oslen solved the problem by finding a couple of crowd-pleasing late replacements.

"I managed to get Minor Majority to replace Amy Winehouse at the last minute, which meant flying them in from all over the place because they were on vacation," he explained.

"For Lily Allen, who pulled out a day before the festival, I got [Swedish singer/songwriter] Jens Lekman.

"Nobody complained," he added, although the festival, which grew an extra day this year, sold out its 11,000 capacity two months in advance.

For two years, it was Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty who caused the schedule to be modified when he was held for trying to bring his stash of drugs into the country.

This year’s August 7-11 bash, which spans four days in the city’s Medieval Park – where Oslo was founded more than 1,000 years ago – is being heralded as its best.

It’s been followed by glowing tributes from the local media and even the U.K.’s The Sun ran a piece saying that Lady Sovereign’s performance showed Norway doesn’t exactly lack females with attitude.

"If Michael Eavis is looking for ideas after this year’s lacklustre Glastonbury, he should check out Norway’s Øya festival," the paper said.

It also gave the festival "top marks" for its green credentials, pointing out that the "100 percent ecological" food, recycling of eating and drinking utensils and a deposit on cups encourages punters to return them for reuse.

Oya’s record-breaking result comes toward the end of a summer that’s seen the Norwegian outdoor festival market turned on its head, changing the pecking order in terms of the size of the crowds they attract.

Hove Festival, the new event former Quart Festival director Toffen Gunnufsen started just an hour away along the coast at Arendal, probably beat Oya in a photo-finish as both pulled more than 11,000 per day.

That would have been enough to push Quart off the top and down to third place after it saw its crowd cut by more than half to less than 5,000 per day, leaving the local authority with a downside of about $2.25 million (12.9 million Norwegian krona). But Norwegian Wood – the city of Oslo’s other park-based festival – beat it by doing a little more than 5,000 per day.

Appearing to have lost what looked like a marketing battle with Hove, which made a big splash about its arrival on the circuit, the Quart organizers are looking to shift away from the same weekend as Denmark’s Roskilde Festival – about 15,000 Norwegians go there each year – and get things back on track for 2008.

This year’s Oya acts included The Jesus and Mary Chain, Gogol Bordello, Primal Scream, Eagles Of Death Metal, Disco Ensemble, CocoRosie, Melvins, Albert Hammond and New Young Pony Club.