Free events РMalm̦ City Festival

Malmö used to get a bad rap. Back in the olden days it was a grimy, industrial city filled with the sort of grimy, industrial stuff you’d normally find in such places. Fortunately, those days are long gone, and now clean and sparkling Malmö is giving Stockholm a run for its money. Some pundits disregard the city as a suburb of Copenhagen of sorts, but it’s precisely the proximity to Denmark that fuels Malmö’s cosmopolitan revival.

Since 1985 the city has been organizing the annual Malmö Festival, which as of now, is the largest free of charge cultural event in Sweden. This year’s festival is held on August 15 – 22, and as in the past is chock full of attractions to satisfy all tastes and interests – from food to film and music.

The food reflects Malmö’s ethnic diversity with offerings from Asia, Middle East, West Africa and Latin America. You can even try some exotic fusions like moose stir-fry, or reindeer kebabs. All in all, I have counted more than a hundred of different food options available this year.

The music program is just as diverse. Malmö’s own Arash is the top star (at least he would be to me – though some may say that the honor goes to Flogging Molly from the US), and the genres represented span everything from classical music to American hip-hop.


photo courtesy of Malmöfestivalen

When it comes to film, this year Malmö is trying something different – showing silent classics set to modern music. Personally, I’d like to see “The Battleship Potemkin” accompanied by a live punk performance by The Static, scheduled for Friday, August 22 at 7:30PM.

All events are free (though the food is not) thanks to the generous sponsorship of the city and many local businesses.

Because of Malmö’s proximity to Copenhagen, getting there is a snap – just hop on the train, the trip takes about 35 minutes and costs about 10 euros one way. In fact, it’s been estimated that the majority of festival visitors are indeed from across the Öresund strait. Unfortunately, the festival organizers can’t quite keep up with the event’s popularity and the English language section of the festival’s website provides only the most rudimentary, useless information.

Luckily, the official Malmö city website is excellent and filled with tips, tourist suggestions, and other handy bits of information, in English naturally.

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