Nightlife in Copenhagen: live music and clubs

by Andrew Stone

Home to cutting-edge clubs, legendary jazz venues and world-class classical music, Copenhagen has something to offer every music lover

Popular and contemporary dance, electronic and rock music - both live and in clubs -  are well presented in Copenhagen and the city attracts some big name acts, as well as a roster of cool, cutting-edge names. Jazz is well represented too and the city has a proud history of supporting and celebrating some of the greats over the decades. While the breadth of choice for classical music is smaller, it makes up for this in quality.

Clubs and live popular music

The Vesterbro neighbourhood has almost too many happening late night venues to list, so here's a whistlestop selection, starting with Bang & Jensen (Istedgade 130; +45 3325 5318), a café occupying a converted chemist and attracting a good looking, young crowd. It's just across from cocktail bar Boutique Lize (see my Nightlife in Copenhagen: beers, cocktails and wine bars guide). The Vega complex (Enghavevej 40; +45 3325 8012; www.vega.dk), housed in a cavernous 1950s building, offers several nights out in one, often on the same night. It attracts big name live acts such as Bowie, Bjork and Prince as well as top name DJs. There are four main venues including the more intimate Ideal Bar.

Vesterbro's Meatpacking District is the vibrant new quarter in Copenhagen for cool DJ café/restaurant/bar venues such as Karriere Bar (Flæsketorvet 57; +45 3321 5509), as much an art space as it is a bar, or Mesteren & Lærlingen (Flæsketorvet 86; +45 3215 2483), a former butcher bar, reborn as a cosy venue serving rare slices of soul, funk and hip hop.

Nørrebro is another cool nightlife contender. Try Gefährlich (Fælledvej 7; +45 3524 1324) - German for ‘dangerous' - a bar/restaurant with live music and DJs, close to The Oak Room (Birkegade 10; +45 3860 3860; www.oakroom.dk). Rivalling Vega for popularity and left-field cool while attracting cutting edge, big-name acts is also Rust (Guldbergsgade 8; +45 3524 5200; www.rust.dk). It's open Wednesdays to Saturdays. Just around the corner from Rust, Global (Nørre Allé 7; +45 5058 0841; www.globalcph.dk) is Copenhagen's world music venue with a Womad-style approach to genres, styles and musical crossovers. If it's underground, alternative rock and indie you're after try Stengade 30 (Stengade 18; +45 2200 3536 0938).

It's a litte out of the way, but Loppen (
Bådsmandsstræde 43; +45 3257 8422; www.loppen.dk) in Christiania is well worth checking out online for its strong roster of visiting soul, funk and rock acts with street cred. Also slightly out of the way, Amager Bio (Øresundsvej 6; +45 3286 0200; www.amagerbio.dk) is a great mid-size (1000 capacity) venue hosting some terrific live music from international names across a range of genres most nights of the year. Next door is its little cousin BETA, offering a more cutting-edge roster of music with a more intimate feel and setting.

Much though I like some of its sub genres, being the old thirtysomething man that I am, I can't say I could confidently offer a detailed guide to the many dance and electronic music nights in town above and beyond what I've already mentioned, but fans seeking the latest tips on the city's hotspots can check out www.housemusik.dk.

Jazz

Jazz lovers will probably have heard of the intimate Copenhagen Jazz House (Niels Hemmingsensgade 10; +45 3315 2600; www.jazzhouse.dk), famous on the world circuit for hosting some legends in its time. Reopened in 2010, Jazzhus Montmartre (Regnegade 19A; +45 3172 3494; www.jazzhusmontmartre.dk) is Copenhagen's other jazz big hitter.

If blues is your thing, head to Mojo Blues-Bar
 (Løngangsstræde 21; +45 3311 6453; www.mojo.dk
), which has a live band every night and a suitably rough and ready, take-us-as-you-find-us (and also friendly) atmosphere.

Opera, ballet and classical music

For an excellent selection of music across the spectrum of classical music, ranging from chamber music and ballet to opera and full blown orchestral work, make sure you check out the usually excellent programme at the Tivoli Koncertsal (Tietgensgade 12; +45 3315 1012; www.tivoli.dk)

Like it or not, the city's relatively new Opera House (Ekvipagemestervej 10; +45 3369 6969; www.operaen.dk) makes a grand statement from the outside. Inside, however, it is spectacular visually and sonically - an ideal venue for grand opera in the main space and more intimate chamber music in the smaller stage. Tickets tend to sell out far in advance so forward planning is a good idea, although a small number are held back for sale on the day. You can buy tickets via the website.

From Summer to late May, the world famous Copenhagen Royal Ballet performs its season at Det Kongelige Teater (Kongens Nytorv; +45 3369 6969; www.kgl-teater.dk).

More expert advice on Copenhagen

Here are some general hints on getting the most from Copenhagen's nightlife:

  • First of all don't expect things to kick off early, especially if you're planning on clubbing. It may be midnight before the bars empty into the clubs, so pace yourself and be ready for things to spill late into the morning of the next day.
  • Generally speaking cover charges don't apply weekdays to clubs and some live music venues.
  • Finally, tickets for most gigs, concerts and events can be booked at BilletNet (+45 3848 1122; www.billetnet.dk).

For suggestions on where to stay in Copenhagen, see my Copenhagen Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Copenhagen page.

Read my overview on Copenhagen nightlife.

Andrew Stone

A travel journalist for more than ten years, I have been writing about Denmark and Copenhagen ever since my first visit in 2000, writing Lonely Planet's Denmark Guide.

Copenhagen is an amazing city I keep coming back to not least because I have some very good friends there. There are many reasons to love Denmark. Despite its diminutive size (you can cycle across it in a morning) it's a hotspot for amazing food (including Noma - voted the world's best), an amazing sense of design, an incredible heritage, brilliant little bars and chic boutiques. The locals are a handsome bunch and the vibe is easy going.

Over the years I have nosed around most hotels in town, eaten at many of the restaurants and hung out in many of its bars. I also know the wider region around Copenhagen very well.

I have  now worked on three editions of Denmark plus several editions of the Lonely Planet Scandinavian Europe and Europe on a Shoestring. I have also contributed to Time Out's Copenhagen guide and have written numerous features on Europe's most perfectly formed little capital city.

My Copenhagen

My favourite stroll - A wander along the harbour front between Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid takes in the Opera House, warships, cruise ships, parked-up gin palaces, historic dockside buildings, the fairytale Rosenborg castle and in the distance flickering wind turbines. It's wonderfully atmospheric and ends up beside the Little Mermaid statue (something of an anti-climax perhaps).

Where to be seen - Swish new cocktail bar 1105 is a dark, moody spot and the cocktails are the best in town.

Where to grab a coffee - Vinyl & Coffee is a supremely chilled out little cafe down a quiet Vesterbro side street, selling the latest hip cool indie albums on vinyl and spinning said releases on the decks beside the coffee machine. Most importantly of all the coffee is the best I've tasted in town.

Where to eat - You're really spoilt for choice in this foodie's playground, now officially home to the world's best restaurant, Noma. You won't get in, mind. So, try Relæ, home to some ex-Noma chefs busy developing their own amazing and usually successful gastronomic ideas.

Where to go for some peace and quiet - Kongens Have, the gardens beside Rosenborg castle are beautifully manicured and blissfully quiet. The perfect spot for a picnic.

What to shop for - Copenhagen is your town for original design, quirky one-offs and 'up-cycled' furniture. The city is thick with design talent, whether it's interiors, fashion or accessories you're after.

The best views - I still get a kick out of climbing Vor Frelsers Kirke near Christiania with its spire that winds to a dizzying finish right near the top and offers panoramic city views.

Don't leave without... riding through the streets on a bike. You can't come to the greatest cycling city in the world and not get on a bike. It's the best way to feel like a local. Bike hire is cheap, in some cases free, and you can cover lots of ground on its mostly very flat terrain.