‘A Sustainable Quantum Leap’: Food At Northside Denmark Will Be Plant-Based

Next year's Northside in Aarhus, Denmark will be a veggie fest.
– Next year’s Northside in Aarhus, Denmark will be a veggie fest.
Festival director Brian Nielsen said plant-based was “the future of food.”

When Northside kicks off June 2-4, 2022, at Eskelunden park in Aarhus, Denmark, all food for guests, artists, and volunteers will be plant-based and 100% ecological, the festival’s promoters Down The Drain Group announced today. 

Sustainability has been at the core of Northside Festival since it debuted in 2010. In 2012, the event collaborated with the sustainability agency WorldPerfect regarding sorting of waste and communication of its green values. In 2014, it introduced Tuborg’s unfiltered and organic beer Tuborg Rå (pronounced Tuborg Raw) on site.
In 2017, it accounted for 94% of all beer drafted on site, while 100% of the wine and champagne was organic as well. 2017 also marked the first time the food at Northside was 100% organic. That same year the event managed to sort and recycle 78% of all waste produced at the festival. It’s self-proclaimed long-term goal is to become a 100% waste-free festival. In 2019, Down The Drain Group removed all disposable plastic cups and stopped sales of bottled water. 
Nas at Northside 2019. It was the last edition to take place at the old festival site Adalen.
PYMCA/Avalon/Gonzales Photo/Thomas Rasmussen/Universal Images Group
– Nas at Northside 2019. It was the last edition to take place at the old festival site Adalen.
Next year’s event will take place on the Eskelunden green field in the Danish city of Aarhus.

At next year’s Northside, guests can “once again expect to find themselves in the center of a sustainable quantum leap,” according to a statement from Down The Drain Group, “when the annual menu will show a 100% ecological and plant-based selection of gastronomic festival evergreens combined with new exciting options.”

To provide all plant-based food, the festival collaborated with The Vegetarian Society of Denmark and Organic Denmark, who are behind The Plant-based Knowledge Centre. Katrine Ejlerskov, leader of the Plant-based Knowledge Centre, thinks Northside is sending an important message. “One of the most important things that we, as individuals, can do for the climate is to eat greener and cut down on animal products,” she said, “if we, simultaneously, choose ecological products, we’re also part of securing our groundwater, better conditions for animals, and a richer bio diversity in and surrounding the fields. Northside has taken the lead and has once again shown that they’re willing to take responsibility for a green conversion – this time by making visible that our eating habits are an essential part of the solution towards a more sustainable future.”
Northside is the first Danish festival to only serve plant-based food, and the festival will be launching the new food menu closer to the festival. Milk, cheese and yoghurts aren’t entirely off the table. The Plant-based knowledge Centre defines a plant-based meal as “a meal that is built around plants and that can be supplemented with a smaller proportion of animal foods.” Northside is leaving out all meat and fish in its meals and will only use a maximum of 15% cheese, egg or mayonnaise per portion.
The English record producer, DJ and songwriter Mark Ronson at Northside 2019.
PYMCA/Avalon/Gonzales Photo/Per Lange/Universal Images Group
– The English record producer, DJ and songwriter Mark Ronson at Northside 2019.
The festival has grown from a one-day event with a few local acts to a 40,000-capacity international event in a mere 10 years.

The 2022 edition will also be fueled by 100% green energy, and Pollstar reached out to Northside partner and sustainability manager Martin Thim to find out what exactly that means. He explained that, together with the city of Aarhus, Northside invested in new infrastructure, and through a power purchase agreement (PPA) it will now draw all of its energy from windmills.

Northside festival director Brian Nielsen said, “It’s in the DNA of Northside that there’s space and anticipation for us to pave the way for inspiration. Both when it comes to new music but also new sustainable initiatives like going plant-based. We strive to always surprise, challenge and take the lead, and to serve plant-based food is a natural next step on our journey towards more sustainability. It’s the future of food.”
Other sustainability initiatives taken by the festival include no parking for cars on site. Visitors have to walk, bike or use public transportation to get to the festival. Denmark has an excellent network of cycling tracks, it renowned for being one of the most cyclist-friendly countries in Europe. There’s a bike lane that takes visitor straight into the festival site Eskelunden. Since 2012, there’s a dedicated area called Bikeside, set up in collaboration with Aarhus Cykelby, where guests can park their bikes, or get help repairing and checking them. In 2017, Bikeside had around 10,000 bikes.
Last but not least, there’s materials. A lot of wood is used to build Northside, both in stalls and bars, and as part of fixtures and decorations at the festival site. In 2013, organizers launched a fundraiser to restore rainforest in an area the size of Northside’s festival site. With help from festivalgoers and other collaborators, they raised DKK 68,000 ($10,500), which benefited a rainforest project in Nicaragua run by Verdens Skove. The donation made it possible to preserve 31,6 hectares of rainforest, which corresponds to almost 31 soccer fields, a much bigger area than Northside entire festival site. Packaging, posters, flyers, are all of the most environmentally friendly materials.
For these and other efforts, the full details of which can be found on the festival’s website, Northside was awarded with the A Greener Festival Award in 2014 and 2016. The jurors emphasized the festival’s promotion of communal transportation, the ambitious waste sorting and providing good conditions for cyclists and pedestrians.
Northside 2022 will be the first edition to take place at Eskelunden, a greenfield site twice as large as the old one in Adalen. The festival has grown from a one-day event with dive Danish artists in 2010 into a major three-day international event that attracts some 40,000 visitors. Like most events in Europe, it had to cancel both its 2020 and 2021 editions.