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Articles : Wacken Open Air 2017 Review

By on September 10, 2017

Wacken Open Air – 2017

Here we are again. Another year goes by and another Wacken Open Air rolls out the red carpet for metalheads across the globe to ascend upon the holy Wacken land to see their favourite metal bands over three glorious days. Rain or shine.

For those who have been, you know what to expect. Good music, good beer and good vibes all-round. Wacken Open Air has been running non-stop since 1990 and has always been the go-to festival for metalheads across the globe to party and catch up with friends. This year is no different as the festival featured some heavy hitters in the general spectrum of heavy music. Alice Cooper, Accept, EuropeRoss The Boss, Trivium, Volbeat, The Amity Affliction, Powerwolf, Megadeth, Kreator and the list goes on!

This short write up is more for those who have yet to experience the holy Wacken land.

Getting to the festival is a journey within itself. Along the way, you will meet some interesting characters from Europe and across the globe. Many of whom you’ll no doubt become friends with within a matter of minutes. Those that attended Wacken Open Air from in and around Europe are always blown away at the sheer distance some people travel to the festival, but Australia always seems so far compared to everywhere else. The distance is far (too far for some) but well worth it once you arrive in Hamburg. If you have yet to head over to Europe and attend Wacken Open Air or any of its other awesome metal festivals. Then hopefully after reading this, it will encourage you to get over and see what the fuss is all about.

Getting to Wacken Open Air is pretty straightforward nowadays. There are signs everywhere and if you get lost you can always follow the parade of battle jackets drenched in tattered and worn patches. People are generally willing to help those from out of town by giving them a lukewarm beer out of their stockpile of alcohol and just talk metal, politics or whatever it might be to get a conversation going. Once you arrive at Hamburg Airport there are numerous ways to get to the festival grounds. The most common would be the bus service directly to Wacken Open Air which leaves from outside the Airport on a routine basis. It’s always a great feeling arriving at Hamburg Airport and seeing it overrun by metalheads during Wacken Open Air.

The other alternative would be to take the local train service to Itzehoe (roughly 51km northwest of Hamburg) and take the festival charter bus service directly to Wacken. This is a great way to experience the countryside. Both methods are affordable and a great way to make new friends. Once you arrive at the festival you have many options. Where to camp, what to eat, who to see and when to stop drinking (if possible). The prime camping grounds do tend to fill up quite quickly so I would advise getting their early to set up. Once you’re there and settled in you pretty much have free reign to do what you feel. However, your senses may be in overload at times with the sheer amount of merchandise, attractions, drinking, music and general tomfoolery that goes on. Just be prepared to salivate.

This years lineup was utterly sensational. Getting to see Europe perform ‘The Final Countdown’ in front of some 80,000 people was amazing. Its one of those moments where you have to pinch yourself and hope it isn’t a dream. Over the course of the next three days, it’s pretty much that feeling on repeat.

I felt it again when I got to see one of my favourite bands, Grave Digger, perform their medieval trilogy (Excalibur, Knights of the Cross and Tunes of War), Ross The Boss performing early Manowar, and again when seeing Emperor, PowerwolfHeaven Shall Burn, AcceptStatus Quo, Trivium, Alice Cooper, Kreator and Avantasia. Unfortunately, time doesn’t always permit you to see every single band on the bill, but if you plan ahead you’ll always have a good time no matter who you get to see. Sadly, no Morbid Angel this year as they had some minor visa issues before arriving in the country. I would have liked to have seen Steve Tucker reunited and performing Morbid Angel, but with the imminent release of their new album, I have a feeling they’ll be in our neck of the woods pretty soon.

This year was my fifth year at Wacken Open Air. I don’t have much to complain about as the festival tends to my every need. However, in recent years the festival has gone a little overkill in terms of attendance. I remember my first Wacken Open Air in 2010. I went purely to see Grave Digger, Edguy, U.D.O, Amorphis and Immortal, and everyone else playing was just a massive bonus. Back then the festival felt big, but not to a point where you were walking in a constant zig-zag across an overcrowded field to dodge literally everyone to get to the next stage in time. Nowadays the festival brings in on average around 85,000 people (including staff and bands) per year. I guess this would be my only minor gripe of the festival if any. The sheer level of people concentrated in one location is mind-blowing at times but works more like controlled chaos. Just be prepared for waiting in queues to eat, drink and shit. But even as I say that the festival works tirelessly every year to resolve some of the issues other festivals lack the foresight to tackle. Blast kudos to Wacken for making us metalheads as comfortable and safe as possible each year.

And with that, the festival is over for another year. Writing about this festival does not give it enough justice. You literally have to experience it for yourself. I guess now is a better time than any to book your tickets with the recent announcement of some of the band performing at the festival in 2018. Amorphis, Nightwish, Epica, Vince Neil, Dimmu Borgir, Judas Priest, Running Wild and plenty more that will be announced in the following months.

Everyone is welcome to Wacken. There is no pregidous, intolerance or bullshit ego to contend with when you have a mass of people, both young and old who just want to celebrate all forms of metal with people from all around the globe.

To find out more and book your tickets, head to


Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook