Wacken…a sleepy Northern German village that becomes the metalheads’ promise land since 25 years! Yes, I’m writing about Wacken Open Air!
It’s incredible to see how much this music festival grew up every year…in 2004 I went there for the first time and it was already a big event with some cool collateral events, but when I came back in 2012 it has become amazingly HUGE.
It’s not mere propaganda saying it’s the biggest Metal festival of the world!
When you change your admission ticket with a wristband, they give you a “Full Metal Bag” with a lot of funny (and sometime useful) items and then you’ll be going to experience a whirlwind of multiple activities, a lot of different food stalls and many vibrant markets (clothes, jewels, shoes, bags, accessories…).
Metal music is of course nearly always blasting from the stages (there are 3 big stages and several smaller ones) until late at night.
So how do you survive and of course have a lot of fun in Wacken?
10 tips to enjoy Wacken Open Air more:
1. Dress in layers and bring warm clothes.
Germany can be very sunny and hot during the day, but still the nights are quite cold so bring more warm clothes than you would normally think for summertime.
It can also rain a lot (more often than I would like…damn) so take waterproof things! The field will become totally muddy and you can really get wet and dirty if you are not well prepared.
Obviously think about your shoes too…they must be confortable as you will walk and stand still a lot, but also “mud ready”. I always take a pair of sneakers for sunny times and a pair of waterproof boots to navigate through the (possible) vast amount of mud.
2. Print the map, the bands running order and the activities schedule.
As the place is so huge, you need to orient yourself to find places and, if you are not ready with a map, you can easily miss concerts or other shows you want to see.
I learnt this the hard way (sigh…) so now I always print a map and study it from home to then understand quick where (and when) I will have to go once in Wacken.
3. Pitch your tent near the festival site entrance.
I learnt this from my mistakes too! Pitching the tent near the camping ground entrance was easy for the arrival and departure (less walking with heavy luggage) but it was a terrible idea for going in and out the festival site during the days…the place is really huge so you will walk a lot either way but being near the festival gate is definitely easier.
4. Pitch your tent far from any fence.
Another important thing to mention is to pitch your tent the farthest you can from fences/trees/bushes…people will piss there (or worst) all day and night no matter if there is a tent nearby.
The same applies for mobile toilets or water suppliers…it’s no fun to sleep in a muddy and smelly area.
5. Try the delicious VEGAN food.
Even if you are not vegan, I think you have to try the tasty alternatives to “normal” food that Wacken provides. My favorite was the vegan gyros…absolutely amazing!!!
So yes, of course there are a lot of barbecue and meat dishes stands (typical “macho” stereotype) , but there are a lot of vegetarian and vegan food too!
It’s really great to see that veganism is becoming more and more a popular option so that you can now find it easily even in Wacken!
6. Use the town toilets.
If you don’t mind the mobile toilets on the camping ground, good for you…but if you want a little bit more comfort and hygiene, then use the ones located in the town bars. Few queues and very clean spaces.
7. Try the hand made cakes in a town stand.
First of all, Wacken residents must be treated with respect (I hope I don’t have to mention it to anyone but it’s a good reminder anyway).
During the festival days, they transform their village into a big Wacken Open Air celebration. Gardens and windows have Metal banners and a lot of people prepare stands to sell various things to metalheads. They are very kind and supportive so be nice with them.
That said, I found a lovely kiosk of some adorable ladies who could really be your mothers selling delicious handmade cakes at the incredible price of only 1 euro per slice! Go check them out!
8. Bring wet wipes and dry shampoo.
If you don’t want to lose hours (no kidding) queuing for showers you have to pay, then bring a lot of wet wipes and dry shampoo. Nobody will notice the difference anyway 😀
Even if you really want to shower, wet wipes are essential to wash your hands and freshen your face up.
9. If you arrive by plane (like me), book the bus to Wacken in advance
If you arrive in Wacken by car, you are very lucky as you will park directly at the camping ground and you can pack a lot of stuff (locking anything valuable inside).
But if you are not lucky to live close enough to the Metal town or if you don’t have enough time to arrive there by car (in my case, it’s more than 1000 km from Italy), then you will have to buy a plane ticket.
The closest airports are Hamburg and Lubeck (awesome cities I will talk about someday) and from there you will find buses that will take you directly to the camping ground. If you want to buy the tickets, I strongly suggest you to book them well in advance as they sell out fast.
Of course it happened to me (am I a mistake maker machine?)…and I panicked because of all the luggage my boyfriend and I had to carry on the trains (but luckily we managed it pretty well).
Yes, you can also take the train to reach Wacken but it’s a bit more complicated as you will have first to take the metro out of the airport, then a train to Iztehoe and finally a (free) bus to the field.
And it’s not so convenient either as it’s only slightly cheaper than the bus.
10. Have the time of your life!!!
Enjoy every minute, go wild with your favourite bands, feel crazy and free, make new friends, drink awesome German beer and…always be safe!
See you in Wacken: rain or shine!
Have you ever been to the biggest Metal festival of the world? Do you have other Wacken tips or funny stories? Share everything in the comments section!