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It all began 40 years ago as a Midsummer’s Fest at Bachmann’s Water Mill on the Vidå River in Tønder. In June 1974, a bunch of young music enthusiasts organised a three-day event of folk music, ballads and beer in the Old Mill, which soon became known as the Song Mill.

Three days of music
Enthusiasm was plentiful, and the group put on yet another three-day session in September that same year. On stage on both occasions, incidentally, was a Scotsman who has ever since been a loyal musician, presenter, media consultant, and general support for the Tønder Festival: Rod Sinclair.

Carsten Panduro
Founder activist Carsten Panduro was Festival director for four decades, up to August 2014 with the title of artistic director. It is not too much to say that Carsten Panduro – latterly with Anni Lehmann– created and consolidated the spirit and ethos, not to mention the lofty standards, that are Tønder Festival’s signature to this day.

The First Festival
The first real Tønder Festival took place over three days in August 1975. The music programme was eclectic– from the Slesvig Infantry Regiment Music Corps to beat groups like Alrune Rod and Taurus, the latter better known later as TV-2. Steffen Brandt was telling the truth when, as Niels Hausgaard’s guest in the Culture House in 2006, he announced,“It really is a while since I played at Tønder Festival.”
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