French pop band YELLE performs during Popaganda 2014

Stockholm has long been described to me as one of Europe’s trendiest cities. And with a history of good design (IKEA), fashion (H&M), films (Ingmar Bergman) and music (ABBA…I guess), it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Swedish capital city is at the heart of Scandinavian culture. So rather than making my first visit to Stockholm purely as a tourist, I made the decision to visit during one of the city’s coolest indie festivals: Popaganda.

The Popaganda Festival has been running for years, though it’s only been in its current location (a public swimming pool complex) for the past few. This year’s headliners included all female vocalists, with Swedish pop star Veronica Maggio headlining along with Swedish international pop group Icona Pop, plus Lily Allen from the UK. The festival lineup included a good mix of Swedish and international bands, though the entire festival felt rather small and personal. Always a good thing at a music festival where large-scale lineups can compete for audiences! Popaganda’s two stages never competed for an audience and you could even enjoy the music from one of the outdoor public swimming pools (though it was a bit cold for most people!).

My favorite performers at the festival included Yelle, Nonono, London Grammer, Lily Allen, Icona Pop and Veronica Maggio. Some I knew of beforehand, others I’d only heard on Spotify in the weeks leading up to the weekend. Festivals are always a great place to discover new bands and the mix between indie and more established pop performers made the Popaganda Festival especially great for finding new music. The organizers did a great job of selecting a mix of both local and international bands which also make the festival great for not just the local Stockholm hipsters, but also music-minded tourists.

Street food vendors sold food during the music festival, including these tasty Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches
Beer is only allowed in certain areas of the festival, so be prepared to line up along railings to see performers!
A phone capture during Icona Pop’s performance
Lily Allen at Popaganda (Stockholm Festival)
Lily Allen performing at Popaganda in Stockholm – she’s just like you’d imagine her bubble gum pop!

Another feature of the Popaganda festival that stood out this summer, was the fact that this year’s headlining acts were intentionally all female. Something I didn’t even notice until it was pointed out to me! It seems gender equality is a popular topic of discussion in Stockholm, and it was no different for this indie festival, even if it was more covert. Elsewhere in the city, political posters dotted the streets in the lead-up to yesterday’s election. You may have already read a bit about Sweden’s Feminist Initiative political party (this story was particularly interesting if you’re unfamiliar).

Gender equality isn’t just a discussion in Sweden, but it’s actually visible. During my weekend, while touring around the hipster SoFo neighborhood of Södermalm one Friday morning, the area seemed to be crowded with stay-at-home dads. Even when I wasn’t looking to discover Swedish politics, it seemed to pop up regardless! It appears that there’s more than just style in Stockholm.

Hands in the air! This isn’t a boring festival – people actually will dance :)
The festival grounds includes plenty of space to chill out between sets
Icona Pop performs during Popaganda 2014

What You Need to Know

Tickets for the 2-day Popaganda festival were 750 KR (a reasonable 85€), though day passes could also be booked online or at the entrance. Be prepared for rain because this time of year is essentially the last weekend of summer weather. Umbrellas aren’t allowed in and may be confiscated at the door, so wear waterproof shoes and be prepared to buy an overpriced poncho if you don’t bring your own! While this is definitely a “Swedish” festival, as in it’s main audience is Swedish, you’ll still be fine speaking English and won’t have trouble meeting other people while there. More information about the festival is available on their official website: popaganda.se

Popaganda - Stockholm Indie Music Festival

Where to Stay

The festival is located on the Södermalm island of Stockholm — probably the most hipster part of the capital. But it’s also well-connected with the city through public transportation and with the early end time each night before midnight, it’s easy to get from the festival grounds to wherever your’e staying. If you want to continue the music theme for a weekend in Stockholm, Hotel Rival is located also on Södermalm. Each room in the hotel comes with your own library of DVDs and CDs and the hotel’s location at Mariatorget is a great place to base yourself for a weekend between sightseeing and the festival. Room prices from 150€ per night, or more information on their official website: rival.se

Getting around Stockholm is easy with the Stockholm Card which provides free or discounted entry to many museums, plus free access on public transportation. It’s especially useful if you don’t want to worry about queing up to buy tickets when the festival ends each night. More tourist information about Stockholm can be found on the city’s official website: visitstockholm.com

Check the travelsofadam.com blog for more Stockholm travel tips!

Travels of Adam - It's a blogLooking for a place to stay? I use HotelsCombined.com where you can easily compare hotel room rates and prices. Please note some posts do make me some money but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

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