Not an enormous festival, at least as compared with monster festivals like Bonnaroo, this year’s Oya festival, held on August 10 to 14 in Medieval Park in Gamlebyen, the oldest part part of Oslo, attracted about 16,000 visitors daily. But what the festival is proudest of is not the number of people it let through the gates every day, nor is it the star-studded lineup including acts like Pavement, Iggy & The Stooges, LCD Soundsystem and The Flaming Lips, Oya is proudest of its work to be one of the greenest music festivals on the planet. This year, every watt of electricity used at the festival site was powered by renewable energy from a nearby hydroelectric dam, making it the only festival of its size anywhere that can make that claim. But festival organizers didn’t stop there.
Litter at the Festival was sorted into 14 different categories, food was organic and sourced locally and electric and hydrogen-powered cars were used by staff on the site. But perhaps the ultimate innovation came via those ubiquitous festival porta-potties: sewage was specially treated, turned into biomethane gas and used to power buses in the city.
As the summer festival season winds down in the Northern Hemisphere and festival organizers begin planning for their 2011 events, let’s hope that Oya organizers get a few phone calls asking them about their innovative initiatives. And who knows, maybe next summer some of them will be coming to a festival near you.