Last August I went to the Wacken Open Air heavy metal festival in Wacken, Germany for the 12th–and possibly last–time. As most readers of this blog know, Wacken has been a huge part of my life for over a decade. But, for all those trips to the festival, in latter years with upwards of 70,000 metal fans there, I’ve only ever seen it in the high summer (the festival always occurs the same weekend every year). Thus I’ve always wondered: what does this place look like in the winter?

I now know. My friend Karl (of the band Rekator), who lives in northern Germany, was good enough to take some photos last Sunday. It is truly an amazing and illuminating look. Wacken is known the world over by metalheads during the festival, but if you don’t live in or visit Germany in the winter you would never have this view of it. So this post is for those who have been to Wacken and who have much the same image of it in your mind as I did…prepare to see it in a new light!


This is Wacken’s main street. The Edeka market, which I’m told is the #1 most-visited spot of real estate at the entire Wacken site, is just to the right, out of the frame.


This street, quiet now in winter, is bustling with thousands of metal fans during the first weekend in August.


The main Wacken Open Air office looks ready to open for business at any time.


This picture amazed me. I always assumed the W:O:A banner on the grain silo–the main landmark visible all over Wacken–was only put up for the festival. Evidently it’s up there year-round.


The snowy farm fields surrounding the village look so different without thousands of tents.


This tractor sits probably not too far from where our camp, “Camp Metric,” sat in 2014.


Filled in August with the sound of metal, these fields are quiet in January.


The famous street sign. All the stickers have been removed.

Wacken 2014 B 084

Here is me on almost exactly the same spot, six months ago.

Big thanks to Karl for taking these photos! This is truly an amazing look.

All photos in this article are copyright (C) 2015 by Karl-Georg Kay and are used here with his permission. All rights are reserved.