The festival Storsjöyran, or “Yran” for short, has a special place in the hearts of people in Jämtland Härjedalen. It even divides the year in two halves, “before and after Yran”.
The last week of July means a total transformation of the Östersund city center for ten days. In the harbour there are temporary restaurants being built to form what is referred to as “Stråket”. All day long people come to savour local foods, meet new people and friends returning home for vacation. It all culminates at the end of the week with a magnificent party and music scenes all around town with some 60 artists from all over the world.
The city is full of music and action during the whole week; a pop band on a corner, a rap artist in another, a theatre group in a crossing and a photo gallery down a street. Happy people are seen all around.
Storsjöyran started in the 1960s and is Sweden´s oldest music festival held in the middle of a city center. It is today one of Scandinavia´s largest music festivals with around 40 000 visitors each year.
The artists performing at Storsjöyran feel privileged and are spoilt in all sorts of ways. They get to savour local foods and do excursions during daytime on the lake Storsjön or to some of all the tourist attractions and sites with views of the surrounding landscape. Alice Cooper for one, truly enjoyed the nearby golf course with views of the Oviken mountains. In the evening the artists can be sure to meet an enthusiastic crowd when it is time to go on stage.
Many international stars have performed on the stages of Storsjöyran during the festival years. One example is Lady Gaga who was booked just before her great break through. Her mythical appearance in Östersund in 2009 is one of the absolute highlights of the festival´s history. Other international stars are Sting, Bryan Adams, Patti Smith, Alice Cooper, Blondie and BB King. Needless to say, all the greatest stars of Sweden have performed at Storsjöyran as well.
But the festival wouldn´t be complete if there wasn´t for the new musical encounters being introduced to the crowd. Many bear witness they discovered new favourites thanks to Storsjöyran, artists they wouldn´t have come across if they hadn´t stumbled over them at Storsjöyran.
The stages around town feature many genres, from World Music to jazz and blues, from hard rock to the most popular dance music of today. Visitors can also enjoy Stand up comedy shows and theatrical performances at some of the stages.
The highlight of Storsjöyran is always the speech made by the president of the republic of Jämtland. His “Speech to the people” is held on the festival saturday each year and for this some 20 000 people will gather by (Stortorget) the grand square scene. The speech is always humorous with an underline of truth. Each year there is speculations of how he will arrive. One year he came on an elephant, in a helicopter, in a great lake monster and once on a fire truck …
The presidential speech has a history dating back to the 1960s. As a manifestation against the exploitation of the natural resources of the region and the increasing depopulation that lasted for a couple of decades, the Republic of Jämtland was proclaimed in 1963. The proclamation was made by Yngve Gamlin, who at that time was a famous TV comedian. Later that year, the Republic’s official “freedom party” was initiated, which was named Storsjöyran. Yngve Gamlin became the first president and held the first speech at Stortorget.
The traditional Presidential speech always ends with fireworks over the rooftops and marks the beginning of the end of each year’s Yra. A few hours now remains of the party, and then the “Jämtland year” goes into its second half – “the time after Yran”.