Aarhus Basketball Festival: A Story of Community and Traditions

Since its establishment in 2004, the Aarhus Basketball Festival has evolved to be more than just a sports event; it has become a symbol of community and passion for basketball. With only 54 teams at its first edition in 2004, the festival has since grown both in scope and popularity. This was the starting shot for an annual tradition that would bring together basketball players and their families and friends from both Denmark and abroad.

Development of the Tournament Office

The festival's tournament office (the Secretariat) has had many homes over the years, starting in the club rooms at Skovbakken and subsequently moved several times to accommodate the growing organization and number of participants. In 2011, the secretariat found its current place above Hal 1, a natural centre.

Changing Accommodations

Aarhus Basketball Festival has offered a range of different accommodations over the years, from schools to sports centers and efterskole/højskole. We started at Vejlby School, which closed in 2013, and since then we have been at Risskov After-school (initially the Sense-stormers), the gymnastics halls in the Vejlby-Risskov Idrætscenter, various rooms at the Idrætshøjskole in Aarhus, Jutland Pedagogical Seminary (until it was also demolished to make way for apartments), Strandskolen, Pigegardens Hus, and in recent years also Jacobskolen on Næringen. In addition, of course, Vorrevangskolen and Ellevangskolen, which today are our largest accommodation sites.

In 2011, the festival introduced "De Luxe" accommodation, which quickly became a huge success and has been sold out every year since.

Transport Solutions

The festival has always offered transportation between playing and accommodation sites, a service that has received many positive reviews. After experimenting with different transport models in 2010 and 2011, the festival returned to the current shuttle bus model.

Social Activities

The festival has also tried to integrate social activities such as soda discos on the legendary MF Broen, movie cinema events in Hall 1, swimming pool access, and other entertainment. These offerings have not always been successful, which emphasizes that the participants focus primarily on basketball. However, in 2024 there will be an opportunity to visit the Motor Skills Hall on Thursday and Friday and do somersaults, and we plan to repeat the Coaches Clinic.

Playing Venues

Over the years, the festival has used many different playing venues in and around Aarhus. Of course, in the many halls at our home base Vejlby-Risskov Idrætscenter, but we have also had game programs in NRGi Arena / TeamDanmark Hall, the gyms in Aarhus Swimming Stadium (!) on Ingerslevs Boulevard, Hasle School, Ellekær School, VIA Hall near the demolished Jutland Pedagogical Seminary, and all the remaining halls we will also play in for the 2024 edition: Risskov Efterskole (Sansestormerne), Ellevangskolen (formerly known as Jellebakkeskolen), Strandskolen, Vorrevangskolen, Christiansbjerghallen, Egå Gymnasium, and Lystrup Hallen.

Focus on Catering

An important aspect of the festival has been to ensure great food for the participants, and we are proud to receive praise for that part of the festival every year. However, one year we had to try something different. We decided to invite the National Guard (Hjemmeværnet) to cook in their large field kitchens in the parking lot outside Vejlby-Risskov Idrætscenter. To put it mildly, it was not a success! That's the only major misstep we've made through the years regarding food. Otherwise, we have had very diligent and responsible people to handle the catering and planning of it all.  

Volunteer Helpers

An impressive group of over 600 different volunteers has contributed to the success of the festival over the years. These individuals have been crucial to the festival's operation and have contributed countless hours to make each year a memorable experience. We cannot thank them all enough for this aspect of the Aarhus Basketball Festival – a pleasure every year.

Number of Teams and Participants

The Aarhus Basketball Festival has experienced significant growth in the number of participating teams and served meals over the years, illustrating the festival's growing popularity and significance in the basketball community. From the original 54 teams in 2004, the number increased to an impressive 135 in 2023. Likewise, the amount of catering has kept up with this growth, reflected in the increasing number of served meals, which reached 8.146 in 2023.

2024 is shaping up to reach the same level as 2023.

Final Thoughts

The Aarhus Basketball Festival is more than just a sports event; it is a community, a celebration of the sport, and evidence of the strong basketball environment in Aarhus. With each year, the festival only grows bigger and better, which testifies to its importance and the place it holds in the hearts of the many returning participants and all of us in the Bears Family. ...   ❤️