So, Wacken Open Air, the biggest heavy metal festival in the world, is history for another year. It went off this past weekend (August 1-4) in the farm fields around the little village of Wacken, Germany, whose normal population is about 1,500, but this year it’s estimated about 80,000 metal fans were there. I attended the Wacken festival 12 times, every year from 2000 to 2009, and also 2011 and 2014 (which was the subject of my “Wacken diary” series of blog posts). I wasn’t there this year, but I can say that the festival has been a huge part of my life, given not only the festival itself but the lifelong friends I’ve made there. You can say Wacken is a “thing” with me.
I didn’t go in 2018, but my friend Tom Krüger did, and he was nice enough to let me post some of the many photos he took at the festival this year. Overall, it seems that Wacken went exceptionally well this time, in contrast to the mud and rain conditions of last year which were a challenge for everyone. The weather, though warm, was actually a little cooler than predicted. (I remember 2004 as being a particularly scorching-hot Wacken, and it was problematic because heat, unlike rain, is pretty much inescapable when you’re camping on-site for 4 days). No mishaps or accidents were recorded. On extremely rare occasions people have died at the festival in tragic accidents but this year nothing of the sort occurred. And the W:O:A has added to its reputation as the most peaceful gathering of heavy metal fans ever–in its 28 years of existence there has never been a single serious violent incident.
So here are some pictures of how it went down this weekend. Big thanks to Tom for allowing me to share these. As you know, my heart lives at Wacken. Another chapter was added to its long tradition this weekend.
Camping is actually one of the most fun parts of the Wacken festival. It’s basically a party with the people around you, which usually turns out to be pretty interesting given the many far-flung lands that Wackeners hail from.
Bands who appeared at Wacken this year included Judas Priest, Helloween, In Flames, Behemoth, Nightwish, Danzig and the immortal first lady of German heavy metal, Doro Pesch.
This is my friend Tom Krüger, who took these photos. He and I have partied together at Wacken, in person, several times.
I watched several performances on the live stream, which now makes it possible to watch the Wacken festival from the comfort of your own home. That was not true when I first began going, 18 years ago (!).
Residents of the Wacken village get in on the act too. Many of them who live along Wacken’s main drag, Hauptstrasse, open up makeshift bars and restaurants in their front yards. The food is usually home-cooked and excellent.