OverOslo is an annual music festival since 2011, located at Grefsenkollen in Oslo – the hill 377m above sea level is known to be the best viewpoint of the city. 4 nights of concerts at the end of June with the fantastic scenery next to a midnight sunset is one of a kind experience. The festival has limited capacity to maintain the intimate atmosphere and enable every single visitor to be able to see the artists perform. Check out our interview with a head of the festival, Lars Petter Fosdahl!
How did it start?
I am co-manager of the festival, collaborating with my colleague. He is the manager of ‘’hardware’’ – tents, stages; and I do the things to make the festival look good – marketing, advertising and so on.
Behind this is hard work and methods in the past have been different. In 2010, as it all started, Facebook was not that well known as an advertising tool. So there we were – two middle aged men, dividing flyers, hanging posters and gathering emails from the parents of the school kids. We got the first 600 emails to schools, talking to the parents.
Concerts and festival – especially in the summer – have become such a mainstream and popular thing that they turned into a marketplace, which is why we have to spend a lot of money on advertising.
How did you impact the festival community?
I believe we contributed to festival community in Norway – we are making every day quite ‘’narrow’’ when it comes to music genre – so the music on the days is similar. When you buy a ticket for instance for Thursday if you are a fan of at least two artists and you will probably like the others as well. So for the price of one expensive concert, you get 7 concerts instead. 4 on the main stage and 3 on the second stage.
One of the qualities of the festival is that the concerts not overlapping even though we have two stages. That prevents the stress of not only having to move from one place to another, but also for the artists who see people leaving, the couples who want to see different concerts and so on. So we are really focusing on not filling every single minute with music and to give people time to relax.
Atmosphere and visitors
To be honest, I think most of the visitors of the festivals are women around 30, because they feel very comfortable there. Partly also because the arena makes it easy to see the concert even if you’re 160cm or less. And I think they appreciate that we have the cleanest festival toilets in Norway, the quality of wine, quality of food, and – you know – wherever there are girls, there will also be boys, so they are happy as well! That creates a good atmosphere and I have an impression that we got quite some regular guests over the years.
At the moment, by the end of March, we are already sold out for two days, we have 200 tickets left for the 3d day and we have 1000 tickets left for the last day, so soon the festival will be sold out completely. That is a good thing because there is so much going on in Oslo – not only Oslo has the most concerts in the world, but there are also have a lot of tourists.
The preparations for this year are like waiting for the baby. A big elephant baby after 11 months of pregnancy! The most important thing for us is to sell the tickets, of course. We are doing that well so that makes life a lot easier, we are always sold out well in advance. Right now, we are just waiting for the snow to melt so we can start building the infrastructure. At the moment, we are down to the technical details. We spend September to December to book the artists, to find the sponsors and make agreements with them; from January to March we are working on marketing and ticket sales, in addition we start with arena preparations. So in April and May we start with the details, we start with hands-on stuff.
It is a lot of work, we could have made it easier for us by not thinking about the details, but that would probably make us less successful.
What is the key to our success?
The most important thing is that every person evaluates the festival. After the event, we put down 50 points of improvement/feedback. So we have a document to use for the next year and then we can generally say how it was and what we can do better next year.
Festival industry is different than other industries – hotel, buses, stage management etc., so we have to organize it so that we know exactly what your tasks are – and there are many.
There are quite some key people you need in festival business. You need people who like working outsid and who love the festival itself, because the working hours can get long. We fill the vacancies with competent personnel and these people need to have open communication. What we realized is that it is absolutely necessary to have professional people. We will never cut down the wages of staff, because we want to retain the level of professionality.
What about volunteers?
Volunteers are very important part of the festival, however, It is impossible to build a big festival only on volunteers, because you can only get certain amount of time and effort from them. The volunteers are very different people with different agendas. Some are lonely, some are unemployed, others feel personal fulfillment with volunteering…there are countless ‘’layers’’ of them. Sometimes we are even social office for the volunteers. According to some, we have even saved lives, there were people coming back to us saying how volunteering by us helped them through their loneliness and tough times! ‘’I felt important’’ is what they said. However, you cannot ask them to do extra hours and give them very responsible work. So we have to base the organization on professional people.
What are the future plans for Grefsenkollen?
We are currently considering making concerts in the winter – so people could relax on the terrace with warm clothes and drinks and enjoying the concerts.
From May to September, Grefsenkollen is a restaurant with a summer terrace – there are many people coming to enjoy the Sunday walk, to sit down for a view and relax. We are planning some events for August, though.
Grefsenkollen is a must-see destination if you’re a traveler. We would strongly advise the wonderful renovated summer hostel HI OSLO Ronningen to book your stay during the festival or during the summer. Check out the offers and discounts!
Created by: Sandra Meglić, an EVS volunteer
Funded by Erasmus+ and Aktivungdom
Pictures taken from http://www.overoslo.no