20 Years of Wacken: Part Four – Time to Celebrate (2005-2009)

The past five years has marked a lead-up to something that the creators of Wacken Open Air had probably hoped to see, but never thought they would: the festival's twentieth birthday. And despite some grumblings among the fans about the delay on announcing line-ups, and other problems that have been thrown in the organisers' way, this major event is set to kick off in about five days time.

By Goatlady and LeticiaS

In 2005 and 2006, the festival was eminently well covered by Germany's Bright Eyes (providers of official Wacken merch for 2009, which you can get here), the staff of which wrote on-the-ground festival diaries for each day of the festival for those years. As they tell us, in 2006, an airforce pilot took the chance to check out the festival when Wacken was teeming with fans, before it officially opened, by doing a couple of laps around the area. The diary also tells us about how Stratovarius was the surprise act for the year - a major disappointment to many, because the band played literally just three songs. Gorefest was also a 'reunion' band at 2005's Wacken, and Sentenced played here on their farewell tour. The closing act was a combination of the Wacken Firefighters and Tom Angelripper.

But what most people would be likely to remember about W:O:A 2006, is the rain. 'Wacken turned into a muddy swamp', the histories tell us - something which the videos on WackenTube will corroborate very easily, with images of mud surfing, people painting themselves with mud, and generally mud being featured rather prominently. It was so muddy in 2006 that cars and trailers had to be towed out with heavy machinery - but the fans got the bonus of this service at no cost. As they say, it's Wacken: rain or shine, and everyone still had a ball regardless of the weather.

The following year it rained as well, but not to the extent of 2005, and there were no storms to shake the stages as experienced the year before. Some of the highlights for this festival were the Scorpions letting fans choose their setlist over the internet, Atheist returning to the Wacken stage after fifteen years, and Emperor making an appearance despite the band wanting to end its career.

While the festival diaries were great for this sort of thing during those years, 2007 didn't get the honour - instead, we find out that there were 500 mobile toilets at Wacken. Well, we'll leave you guys to speculate as to whether that's an interesting fact (500 mobile toilets for 72,000 punters), or whether it's a peculiarly German thing to mention. Regardless, those 72,000 people were treated to 77 bands: from Volbeat to Turisas, Saxon to Enslaved. The list of bands dropped slightly (to 71) in 2008, and has hit a mega 82 bands for the festival's 20th anniversary.



One of the highlights for Wacken Open Air in 2008 was its being honoured with Germany's Live Entertainment Award in the Festival of the Year category, which recognises distinguished achievements in live entertainment. It was also the first time that W:O:A had been sold out well in advance. This year also saw the return of the festival diary - albeit in German. Girlschool opened the festival, and the first day's headliner was Iron Maiden; as they say, the biggest classical metal band at the biggest metal festival fit together like 'sausage and barbecue'. 2008 also experienced the heavens opening and the punters being doused in cooling rain - and then being assailed by the mud-pie goodness that Wacken tends to turn into during the rain. And, although Iron Maiden were clearly a highlight, the other two were the reunion performances of both At The Gates and Carcass.

This year's festival was also sold out well in advance of the show: but it sold out in the same year that 2008 sold out - something which record-setting. Never before has a festival of this size sold out two times in one year. But, rather than seeking the glory of sell-out records, the organisers of the festival were merely humbled by the support and loyalty of metalheads around the world who enabled it to happen.

Given that the 20th anniversary of anything is a big deal - and of a huge metal festival particularly - what are the special events or things going on? Well, for a start, Doro Pesch will sing the Wacken anthem, written by Olaf Stern.

Holger Hubner
commented, 'Doro will sing the new song live on July 31 in Wacken. She will perform it with Skyline, the band my partner Thomas Jensen was in a couple of years ago. They will reunite for this special and unique show. Doro really is the best person to sing the song as she embodies everything the song is about. She is a great singer and her voice will give the new hymn a unique touch. The fans will surely get shivers up and down their spine'. I guess we won't know what the anthem is like until the day itself.

The re-formation of Skyline is also a fairly big deal. Although Hubner commented that Jensen was in the band 'a couple of years ago', Skyline were one of the founding bands of the festival, and played there in the festival's earliest days. Another act that is performing in 2009 is the German AC/DC tribute band, Bon Scott - which last played at Wacken in 1993. Perhaps amazingly, given the Europeans' love for AC/DC, this is one band that has never played Wacken Open Air.


camping ground at Wacken Open Air


And, to make sure that those who missed out on tickets really don't miss out in entirety, W:O:A will again be streamed live. The Wacken Open Air organisers have joined forces with Europe's leading ticketing provider, CTS Eventim AG, who are handling the 'online' tickets; Tempodome will be actually broadcasting the event; and the streaming portal itself will be Rockalarm. Just like with the real-life tickets, you can get access for one, two, or three days - paying a maximum of approximately 16 Euro for online access across the entire festival.

The other events going on at Wacken's 20th anniversary are huge: the movie night, wrestling, the metal market, the Viking village, and heaps more. Hit the Wacken Open Air website for more information.

Perhaps best of all, Metal as Fuck will be on the ground at Wacken's 20th anniversary - something we're hell excited about but never actually thought would happen so soon! Stay tuned for festival reports and galleries coming your way in just over a fortnight's time.