Wacken: A North American Survival Guide

by Evan Lowry | metal music

There are a lot of festival survival guides out there on the vast interwebs already. However, after having just come back from the Wacken 25 year anniversery – there are a few things from a backpackers perspective I wish I had known going into it.


Bring a MP3 player, just for sleeping. There are a lot of non-metalheads at Wacken who just want to drink and party. They’ll be listening to schlager songs, techno, rap and other things at extremely loud volumes. I would recommend getting a set of in-ear isolation headphones to listen to while you’re trying to sleep. Maybe some -40db ear plugs just for nighttime would do the trick as well (I had just brought some earsonics, and they were not enough to drown out the noise at night).

Alternatively, be prepared to drink until you pass out. Repeat Monday -> Sunday.


Coming from Nova Scotia, Wacken felt like a desert. Bring something to setup to get yourself out of the sun. The tents will be too warm, and it’s vital to not be sitting under that sun all day. (Alternatively, rain).

#####Dust (Alternatively Mud)

A bandanda to breathe thru when it’s super dry out. I didn’t see this mentioned on any of the other writeups, but I think it’s very vital. There are a lot of smokers at Wacken as well, and the cigerattes they sell on site are equivilant to dirty bag smokes. Breathing in the fumes from other people is somewhat sickening, and a bandanda goes a long way to filtering that stuff out before it hits you.


Europian crowds are quite different from the ones I’ve experianced in North America. The people there really like their personal space, and it seems like a large majority of people at the festival are not really there for the band, but for the experiance itself. It was extremely easy to get to the front bars for bands such as Motorhead and Emperor.

The crowds are even spread out enough there are dudes with kegs on their backs walking around selling beer in the front rows… those dudes would be killed at a show here in Halifax.

Final Thoughts

One final protip: Clean your house and especially have clean sheets / a made bed ready for when you come home. You will be tired, jetlegged, and probably still dirty from Wacken. A shower into passing the hell out into clean sheets is just wonderful.