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The University of Copenhagen’s KU Festival — more than just a staff perk

That ‘KU’ feeling — We need something that unites us in times of division. Here it is: The annual festival for all students and staff is on Friday 31 May.

Have you blocked Friday 31 May off in your calendar? The festival season begins this week when all students and staff are invited to the KU Festival — the official abbreviation for the annual University of Copenhagen (UCPH) get together in the Universitetsparken park on North Campus. It is the one time of the year when students, researchers, teaching staff, technical staff, and administrators get the opportunity to meet up.

UCPH first started the tradition of inviting the entire university to its own festival ten years ago. We asked one of the visionaries behind the idea – Jacob Ørum, the director of byStudents/Studenterhuset — why it actually makes sense to hold a huge party for everyone.

At the University of Copenhagen, we need to nurture and maintain a community

Organizer Jacob Ørum

»The KU Festival is not just a party kind of party. It is a physical manifestation of the community in our organization, which is the size of a small provincial town. At the University of Copenhagen, we need to nurture and maintain a community, and the festival is a part of that. Here we meet colleagues from South Campus who have never set foot on North Campus. At this large university, students and staff otherwise never have the opportunity to meet, interact with, and shape new relationships to each other throughout the university,« says Jacob Ørum.

The festival is about much more than a series of free concerts as an early summer perk to the university people, according to Jacob Ørum:

»It’s also about breaking down silos. I consider it both an important cultural and social project. We put a lot of effort, for example, into ensuring that students and staff with functional impairments have good access to the space, including the toilets, and assistants for the disabled. It is crucial that we can include everyone.«

Ørum says that the organisers keep their focus on whether there are people who are conspicuous in their absence year after year. This will lead to a targeted effort:


Admission is free for staff and students. The program begins at 2 pm, and the party lasts for 12 hours. Remember your ID card, credit card/mobile pay (no cash)

You are not allowed to bring your own beverages. There are water spots on site, and other drinks are available for purchase. Drinks sales go towards the financing of the event.

Remember your sunscreen.

The programme is here.


»We’re trying to get everyone together, group by group. We ask ourselves if there is anyone out in the periphery of the UCPH family that we need to do something special for. Maybe we should organize bus transportation to units that are far away from the city centre, or something like this.«

13,000 participants, 300 volunteers

It has been hard to pin down the director for this interview. Apart from the start of the study year, May is the busiest month for him. Musicians need to be booked. North Campus has to be transformed into a secure festival site. Stages, sound, and food stalls have to work. And the entire programme has to add up:

»We are in the process of setting up the festival arena. And hopefully more than 10,000 people will have a fantastic day, evening and night on 31 May. We coordinate more than 300 volunteers to take charge of entrance, the bar operation, and so on.«

READ ALSO: Thousands flocked to the KU Festival for the good friends and sunshine

Jacob Ørum hopes that this year’s programme speaks to everyone. On the music programme are Danish star acts like Sanne Salomonsen, Mads Langer, Afskum, Lågsus and DJ Fedty. There will also be talks, debates, revues and quizzes throughout the day.

Don’t miss the University Post’s legendary KUiz (At the Wegener venue 16:00-16:30), which the team from the Student Council usually wins. Come along and give them some competition. From here, you can refuel in one of the stalls and maybe have a chat with a dean, or a diversity consultant, before you go to a novel concert called Tour de chambre with the author Tine Høeg and the musician Simon Brinck (Frequency 17:15-18:15) or experience the Climate Myth Busters (Sustainability 17:00-17:45). Or do something completely different.

There is a lot of stuff happening – some of it is clever, some of it is course. Design your own programme based on the entire buffet of events which you can see here.

This year there is also an extended sports programme that begins at 12 noon. This is for those who feel like competing in volleyball, dodge ball, dance, or jugger training. Or even practice biathlon or yoga.

Employees go nuts in karaoke tent

When asked what Jacob Ørum is looking forward to the most, he answers with a laugh:

»I rarely have the time to hear the music, but at some point between 9 and 10 pm, we organizers can sit back and see that things are going well. At that point, we are on the home straight, and we can sense that things are working out. When the last live act is underway, there is usually a spontaneous round of high-fives. This is a great feeling.«

On the music programme are Danish star acts like Sanne Salomonsen, Mads Langer, Afskum, Lågsus and DJ Fedty

And he then mentions something that happened in 2023 for the first time, and which turned out to be an overwhelming success:

»The famous karaoke contest. It turned out to be far more popular than we had expected. The tent was full, and I wouldn’t say it went crazy, because everyone is nice, but I had foreseen that we would have to improvise a security cordon around the sound man when the masses of people tried to dance with him. I had not anticipated that it was the employees group that would go nuts, but it was.«

This year, there is a fence around the sound desk from the start. But you have to be quick if you want to join, because the first timeslot was torn away in one minute in 2023.

I ask Jacob Ørum if he has a favourite anecdote that he wants to share from his first ten years of festival work at UCPH.

»Uhmm, there was a sweet story about the Danish band Østkyst Hustlers who had a party the first year. We had made an effort with the catering, which was a lot of healthy carrot sticks and whatnot. But they ended up being so disappointed that we had to make amends by providing them with burgers.«

Food stands in the arena have both roast pork sandwiches, as well as non-meat menus.