G! Festival: Cue the music for nature lovers
By Siri Hjelm Jacobsen
Imagine the epitome of raw, North-Atlantic beauty: A Faroese fjord. It’s a summer’s evening. Slow-drifting clouds cast their patterns of light and shadow on the green mountainsides. Seabirds soar through columns of late sun breaking through the cloud cover to spotlight a darkening sea. The air is freshly scented with salt and hay. There’s a small village here, the village of Syðrugöta, a smattering of houses on the hillside sloping down to a wide, sandy beach. The ocean is quiet, waves glide in with a rustle. Are you with me?
Now imagine a stage on that beach and a turned-up festival crowd dancing their summer hearts out under the vast, Northern sky. In fact, imagine several stages scattered throughout the village and an internal line-up of artists from every musical denomination. Imagine great street food, world-class art, and a vibe somewhere between freewheeling music festival, family reunion and village-wide house party. It’s not easy, I know. But that’s G! for you. Raw beauty, thought-provoking culture and great music wrapped in stark ocean views and sheep-dotted hills.
Not your average music festival
Every July for three days, G! festival descends on Syðrugöta, turning the quiet village all the way up for party time. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges. If you plan on camping out in a tent alongside the Faroese die-hards, bring your “no weather is bad weather” attitude and an extra pair of warm socks. Even in the heart of summer, Faroese weather is an adventure all in itself, and you never know what you’re going to get. In 2018, a flash summer storm almost washed the main stage out to sea, whereas 2019 had revellers lounging in bikinis on the beach. Either way, you probably won’t get a tan, but hey, if that’s your bag of chips, there’s always Ibiza.
G! is something truly special. Where else can you take a dip in the North Atlantic, then warm up with the locals in large salt-water hot tubs on the beach while the music is playing? Or bump into headlining acts chugging good Faroese beer while hauling their own instruments down to the beach before a show? Where can you sample world class visual arts and installations integrated into boat houses, caves and the surrounding nature and enjoy a raw seaweed tasting before busting every move you’ve got at an all-night beach rave led by Fatboy Slim?
Every year during G!, the Faroese publishing company Eksil puts on an art show tailored to the festival ground and natural surroundings. It’s small but well curated, uniting the finest representatives of contemporary Faroese art with select artists from all over the globe. Expect everything and anything from land art over abstract painting to interactive performance pieces.
Take a hike
The island of Eysturoy is home to some wonderful nature spots. From the festival grounds it’s only a short drive to the small village of Tjørnuvík, where the beach views are spectacular, and if you just feel like walking off last night’s buzz, there are plenty of good hiking trails to be found close by.
Close to home
You won’t find any hotels in Syðrugöta, but that’s part of what makes G! unique. Visiting artists are accommodated in private homes and festival guests too will find rooms to rent in the village. It’s a good opportunity to sample Faroese culture and meet new friends, but don’t snooze if you plan to rent a room—they tend to sell out quickly. And do respect the locals. After all, they make this oddball miracle of a tiny world-class festival possible by opening their homes and public spaces to adventure-seekers, music lovers and art connoisseurs from all over the place. I’ve been one of them for two years and I know I’ll be coming back next year. In a sense it will be like going home—if home was a North Atlantic beach party or a midnight hip hop concert at the local soccer field followed by a brisk hike up into the hills to cool myself down with some of that impossibly sweet blue Faroese summer night air.