Wacken Open Air, as many people who read this blog know, is a huge heavy metal music festival that occurs on farm fields around the small town of Wacken, Germany every first weekend of August. I’ve blogged quite a lot about the festival, which I attended 12 times between 2000 and 2014. I only ever saw the Wacken countryside in summer, and from my earliest times I was always curious what the place looked like at other times of year, without the festival infrastructure and tens of thousands of metal fans teeming about. In January 2015 my friend George, who lives near Wacken, took some terrific photos of the place in winter and covered in snow. That was one of the most fun articles I’ve ever done on this blog.
Not long ago another reader, Ole from the town of Neumünster, also not too far from Wacken, contacted me out of the blue. He had been to the Wacken festival grounds in mid-September, about six weeks after the end of the festival, and took a number of photos of what it looked like at the beginning of fall. I’m happy to share the photos with you, with Ole’s permission. What a difference a few weeks–and a change of season–makes!
First things first, we should do a comparison so you can see what Wacken looks like during the festival, and afterwards.
This is a picture of the Wacken main grounds during the festival itself. Ole says he took this during the Foreigner set. This was in early August.
Now here is exactly the same spot, except in mid-September. You can tell it’s the same spot because of the position of the grain silo.
The “True Metal Stage,” one of the two main stages, sat on this spot. It’s kind of lonely now!
This is the view from the site of the “Party Stage,” one of the adjunct stages. In early August this ground would be totally filled with metalheads. Now the ground lies fallow, awaiting winter.
This was once the entrance to one of the infield camping grounds. During the festival you’d find a temporary “supermarket” at the end of this path.
This was where the “Wackinger Village” was, a temporary medieval-style city with food booths, jousting and swordplay, a small stage, etc. Very lonely now.
If you look closely at the above photo you can see a remnant of the festival still left over–the large wooden hand “throwing the horns” chainsaw sculpture that marks a significant landmark of the festival grounds. This landmark features prominently in the novella “Wacken,” part of my recent story collection Hotel Himalaya: Three Travel Romances. In that story, the sculpture is where the characters of Daria and Andras meet up several times during the festival.
More lonely remnants: part of a temporary wall and some barrier tape over a farm gate are all that remain of the “Artist’s Village,” which is the backstage-backstage area where the big bands stay.
This was the area that my friends and I were trying to get to with the “AAA” (Access All Areas) passes that were promised to us–and never delivered–in this chapter of my Wacken 2014 saga.
The photo at the top of this article, which is my favorite of the whole batch, shows life and fresh grass springing back in the area of the main campgrounds, just five or six weeks after the festival. And yet autumn is almost here. Even now as you read this (October 12) it probably looks very different.
Thanks Ole for showing us these pictures!