Top 15 Must Dos at Wacken Open Air

Fuck Disneyland, they no longer deserve the title of 'Happiest Place on Earth'

Once you’ve got your Dettol, wet-wipes and sun block sorted, five days at Wacken Open Air is pretty much smooth sailing. Now we could go over the sensible list, like make sure you drink plenty of water, don’t over-do the alcohol, don’t be that guy the medics have to peel off the moshpit floor; these are all valid conventions to live by, however, the list I am about to impart on you all will surely not only be certified by punters who make the annual pilgrimage, but a mouth-watering insight for the virgins about to experience the happiest place on earth. Fuck Disneyland, they no longer deserve this slogan.  

This year, I am travelling with four Wacken recruits, fresh out of the box and ready for minimal sleep, mud finding its way into every cornice and a beer belly to write home about. These recruits are completely untouched by the bliss of this mammoth festival and I have to say each time Wacken 26 is mentioned (which not surprisingly happens quite often) my face beams with excitement, and I crack out the fist bumps, not only because I am fortunate enough to head back to the holy land for the third time, but knowing what these four people are about to experience. I’m rather jealous it’s not my first time again. Third time’s a charm though eh?   

So let’s hook in shall we, enclosed you’ll find my 

TOP 15 MUST DO’S FOR A TRIP TO WACKEN OPEN AIR: 

Get to know your neighbours – Wacken brings in faces from all over the globe, the one thing uniting this diverse bunch of characters is the music. During Wacken 2013, we were introduced to two curious Austrians attending their first Wacken Open Air, well... one fell in our ‘tent fore garden’..... We’ve organised to share a camp with them both again in 2015. The link between newly found Wacken mates after experiencing a festival like this together is one of the coolest mementos I’ve taken home from Wacken. That and the Mead....  

Crowd surf – nothing is more surreal in this life than crowd surfing through a 10,000 strong moshpit to your favourite band. Deafened by the crowd, dust is everywhere and your two missions are, 1. Not eat shit, and 2. Keep a firm grasp on your beer for the journey down. Crowd surfing etiquette, we all know the way; simply tap the shoulder of the chap in front of you, point to the skies and you’re off....  

Taste – taste everything. Wacken offers the most amazing culinary delights (for a festival) and if you’ve had a bad experience on festival food, as most of us have, set aside those former woes as Wacken offers the cream of the crop. Mexican, Indian, Asian, and of course German, there is something for everyone. And if this still doesn’t sit well (see what I did there) there are ways around this – such as a rather interesting fellow I met at Wacken 2014 who felt it necessary to drag around a shrink wrapped bundle of 30 toilet rolls.... Just in case the festival belly struck without warning. Nice chap he was.... So yeah... There’s always that way...  

Whilst we’re on the subject of food, another must do is to find yourself a great breakfast spot. This will save you on those dreaded mornings where you had lost count of your beer consumption, where a zoo of furry animals is living in your mouth and you’re currently looking at life through blood shot eyes.... Right now you’re feeling pretty sorry for yourself; fear not, help is at hand at one of the many breakfast spots on the main street. Pull up a bench under the shade, reminisce with mates about all the funny dumb shit you did the night before and consume all the bacon you can physically manage before hitting the beer gardens. 

Try the Mead – this should be compulsory for entry in my opinion.  

Get your Deutsch on, yes, yes it’s a big ask, though it’s not mandatory. Germans (unlike myself) are clever and can speak more than two languages fluently – regardless if you give this beautiful language a crack or not, you’ll be speaking some sort of variant of European by the end of it, guaranteed.   

Check out Wackinger Village – Seriously, a world of its own. Don’t be surprised if you find Vikings, knights and some trippy role players; there is also a mass assortment of entertainment, mouth watering foods like pig on a spit, mead, medieval costumes and an armoury, its incredible! Bring your Euros...   

Embrace the locals - Wacken natives get just about as excited for August every year as the punters, get amongst the town, throw em a big cheesy smile and most importantly respect them and their property; 75,000+ metal heads have just taken over their humble town guys.

Get out of your musical comfort zone – many times have I accidentally stumbled upon great bands at festivals through either walking around taking in the atmosphere or consciously getting amongst it. Wacken, without fail will accommodate everyone’s musical tastes however it’s the undiscovered bands that are the real gems and the ones who leave a lasting impression on your experience at Wacken.  Open your mind man! There is no room for elitists’.    

Buy a drinking horn – what else are you suppose to pour your mead into?  

Be part of the vocal Mexican wave –Basically, this is exactly what it sounds like, don’t be that dick that breaks the chain. The yelling of the word ‘WAACCKKEENNN’ has been working its way up and down the festival perimeter for like, I dunno, maybe... twenty minutes now, when it reaches you don’t be that guy that stays voiceless, open up your lungs and give it a what for!    

Bring the flag – this must do could go in the necessity pile as flags are great landmarks to guide you back to your tent, however, your own flag signifies your claim or footprint on a little portion of the holy land (for those five days anyway ha!) and if you’re like me, not any old flag will do...  

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Get muddy – It is unavoidable really, rain, hail or shine make for some spectacular mud puddles, don’t try to avoid it. Embrace the dirt, embrace that inner child who used to make mud pies in the garden (I love making mud pies!). Just be careful though - that big mud pile you’ve got your eye on, the one you want to shed off your blue collar coil; cast off the strings of responsibility in the hope to bring some anarchy into your life... might just be a piss puddle... you don’t want to slide around in no piss puddle....  

Know the location of your slushy vendor – this is a must do simply for survival. Again we’re touching on a safety issue but it’s a good one to raise. The fields of Wacken get up to 40 degrees some days, sunscreen only protects your skin; slushies protect your guts from exploding on the inside. That’s brutal.  

Watch a sunrise – 6am at Wacken Open Air is breathtaking. On one hand you have the last stragglers of the previous night’s shenanigans, still laughing and drinking and then silence on the other. The dew is on the ground; you roll out of your tent (looking fabulous, I’ll admit) grab a coffee and sit quite contently taking in the morning air.   

We all celebrate Wacken differently, some of us like to drink alcohol for the five straight days; the only bath you take comes in the form of making mud angels, and we’re the type who walks around all day taking in all the bands on offer.... Some of us like to strategically plan our days, highlighting our bands in our uncreased programme, arriving five minutes early and packed to the rafters with water bottles to get through their day.... Regardless of how you spend Wacken, the experience is overwhelming... you won’t return home the same.