2019 saw Wacken Open Air take place for the 30th time, and it was a birthday party at its finest!!! This festival is very special, and I think you have to have been there to fully understand what this name stands for. I’ll try my best to find words for it:
… a little town in North Germany with 1900 people, that grows up to 85.000 people for one week in August
… the epitome of a metal festival
… a spirit
… crazy and loud
… rain or shine (famous for the mud after rain)
… 30 years of metal madness
… a brand, a promise and a big enterprise in the background
… a bunch of metalheads from all over the world, celebrating peaceful their passion for music
The basic conditions are good: many food / drink offers, free drinking water, the sanitary situation is ok, a supermarket especially for the festival, special offers for handicapped people… They’re doing a lot that the visitors can have a great time, and they make changes due to feedback if it’s reasonable. But the incredible amount of people brings it all to a limit sometimes, especially in the evening.
Can’t imagine the enormous organizational effort – My greatest respect for the team behind!!!
Travelling: Depending on where you come from, there are many ways to head into a bigger city near the festival. For the last miles, you can use bus shuttles or you need a car. Wacken visitors are good recognizable on the highways due to W:O:A tapes on the vehicles.
During Wednesday and Thursday, there have been huge traffic jams. The campgrounds open already on Monday, so it’s highly recommended to travel there as early as possible.
For those visitors who are not on the campgrounds, there are day parking areas available, with only 15 minutes walk to the festival area.
Next up is the way to the ticket exchange (after a walk around the main area, 30 minutes when it’s dry, 60 minutes with mud. But the fun starts already here, and you get a first impression how big this event really is). With your wristband, you also get the “Full Metal Bag”, filled with useful things like earplugs, a foldable water bottle, rain poncho and some other gimmicks. It is the only bag you are allowed to take through the security checks at the entrance, to make the controls easier and faster.
Now, you can finally head into the Holy Ground. It opens on Wednesday, and there are already first shows (what is misleading, as the festival officially is announced from Thursday to Saturday).
The festival field itself is divided in different areas:
- Infield with 3 stages (opens on Thursday)
- Bullhead City, a huge tent with 2 stages
- History stage (the first original Wacken tent), where “Metal Battle” takes place
- Wackinger Village in Viking and Middle Ages look
- Wasteland, Mad Max theme
The themed areas are amazing and offer lots of different food, theme related games, attractions, and each one a stage for bands as well. It’s really worth to stay there for a while… Lots to discover.
But let’s talk about the music:
All stages have a fantastic sound, so it’s really listening fun. There are many pyrotechnical effects and big video screens, so everyone can enjoy the shows.
Around 200 bands were announced. Most of them need no introduction, many well-known names in the line-up. I saw round about 30 bands over the 4 days, and they all delivered full power shows!!! People all around really enjoyed themselves while dancing, crowd surfing and in the pit.
Many shows got enormous attention on social media or could be seen at the live-stream, so everyone could follow the event even if not there.
So let me pick just a few of my personal highlights (even if there would be so much more to tell…)
Vane started the Wednesday for me. They are from Poland and were part of the Metal Battle finale. They delivered 30 minutes pure power. Amazing gig, and in the end, they made it to the 5th place. Congrats!!!
Emil Bulls came, saw… and destroyed at noon already. What a blast!!!
Battle Beast kicked ass (and took names 😉). Saw these crazy Vikings 6 times before, and it was always fun, but this show was on another level. Band and audience were on fire!!!
Uriah Heep played their first ever Wacken show in 49 years band history, and the amount of people who showed up was incredible. They’re still living the dream, and that could be felt during the whole set. ‘appy times 😊
Myrath from Tunisia were absolutely mesmerizing. Great music and an amazing performance, topped with a fire show, a beautiful belly dancer and a magician.
One of my most anticipated shows would have been Evergrey, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled due to a thunderstorm evacuation, and they couldn’t find another slot for them… The evacuation worked straight and relaxed. Security and Metalheads handled that very good, so everyone stayed safe.
To sum it up: This festival is huge and insane, and I really had a great time. There is a special spirit that can be felt all around. A big “Thanks” goes out to the organizers and the thousands of helping hands!!!!
Nevertheless, I decided not to go there again next year, as I prefer small or midsized festivals with a more various line-up besides the big names in music business. But that’s just my personal point of view.
If you want to join the world’s biggest metal party and haven’t bought your ticket yet for 2020, you probably have to wait till 2021, as the 75.000 tickets for next year were sold out within 21 hours!!!
Review by Katha – Munich, Germany
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