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My Experience at Wacken Open Air 2019

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I made my way to Wacken Open Air 2019 and I had an absolute blast. Here’s my story…

It’s the 28th of April. I’m at Rumours Rock City celebrating with Facing the Gallows as they have just won the South African heat of the W:O:A Metal Battle. I started making plans in my head to support them on their trip. What started as a joke quickly snowballed into one of the coolest things I’ll ever do.

Feeling quite unprepared I scoured the internet for useful tips from veterans of the legendary festival. I wanted to be ready for whatever Wacken could throw at me. My visa was sorted and after 3 months of planning I was ready to take on The Beast. Nothing however could prepare me for the sheer size of the festival. With over 80,000 people, 150 acts and 9 stages it made Oppikoppi feel like a house party.

Wacken Open Air is a well-oiled machine

It operates on the highest of levels. I was completely blown away by how organised and smoothly the festival was run. For starters, Wacken teamed up with Kaufland and provided festival goers with a Metal Market inside the festival itself. Anything you could possibly need at a festival was right there. Food, ice, tents, chairs, water, alcohol, toiletries and more.

Wacken Open Air 2019 Aerial Shot
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My biggest concern was the toilets. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been mentally scarred by having to go to the toilet at a festival… Providing a sanitary environment for 80,000 people is no easy feat.  But once again, Wacken delivered in style.

There were cleaners stationed at most, if not all toilets. Basins with mirrors, soap and clean drinkable water made going to the bathroom a breeze. They even had plugs where you could charge your phone.

Let’s get to the good part. The bands.

Wacken is one of the biggest metal festivals in the world for a reason. Their line-ups never disappoint. Some of the heavy hitters this year were Slayer, Anthrax, Sabaton, Within Temptation, Parkway Drive, Testament, Sisters of Mercy, Saxon, Cradle of Filth, Jinjer, Thy Art Is Murder, Opeth and Meshuggah.

Wacken Open Air 2019 Barry
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It’s hard to explain the visceral atmosphere at Wacken. It felt like losing my festival virginity all over again. Every stage ─ even the smaller ones ─ was top notch. Massive sound, great lighting and adoring fans screaming their hearts out. They even had a live sign language interpreter on the bigger stages.

Wacken Open Air 2019
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The highlight of my Wacken experience was the W:O:A Metal Battle. An international battle between 30 bands from all over the world. It was such an honour seeing Facing The Gallows do what they do best.

Facing The Gallows at Wacken
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They represented South Africa in true style and left lasting impressions. I was stopped (As I wore the SA flag on my back throughout the fest) so many times by people wanting to ask me about “That band they saw from South Africa”. Incredibly proud of them and what they’ve accomplished.

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