We’re pretty much spoiled in Europe when it comes down to gothic festivals, with nearly a dozen of events taking place during the summer months. There is the fabled Whitby festival in the UK, and a whole string of major German festivals: Blackfield, Amphi Festival and M’era Luna. Some of our customers might have met us there if they ever attended, as we frequently are present with our shop, providing festival goes with our latest gothic clothing.
But among all these awesome festivals, one sticks out: the famous Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig – which is more than just a festival, it’s a life-changing event, a gathering for goths from all over the world, and very much unique.
Wave Gotik Treffen : two decades of gothic music, fashion and celebration
Twenty years ago, shortly after the Berlin wall fell, there was not much going on in the dark scene in eastern Germany. Two goths from Leipzig wanted to change this, and came up with the idea of organizing a festival, one that would draw people from their region and beyond; a like-minded gathering for goths to meet, chat and enjoy each others company. The idea for the Wave Gotik Treffen was born.
When the festival took place for the first time in 1992, with only a handful of bands, it drew a crowd of approximately 2000 people; no one at that time would have imagined that two decades later, it would feature over 150-200 bands and attract between 20.000 and 25.000 people from all over the world, every year, at Pentecost.
Leipzig, a city turns black
The most unique feature of the Wave Gotik Treffen is that unlike other festivals, it is not limited to one specific site. Rather, it takes over the whole city of Leipzig, with 30 different venues spread all over town. The billing of this festivals accommodates a broad range of tastes and styles, from classic goth to EBM, Industrial, Deathrock and neo-folk. The bands also vary from famous top-headliners (like Fields of the Nephilim or Front 242) to newcomers, and the choice of 30 locations all very different in size and style is perfect for accommodating all these different bands. Small clubs (Werk II), open air stages (Parkbühne), large hall venues (Agra) or chamber music in the intimacy of an underground vault (Moritzbastei), it’s all there.
This spreading of the venues encourages visitors to explore the historic city of Leipzig, and the kind city council encourages this by opening otherwise inaccessible locations for gothic events, like the Volkspalast and it’s splendid cupola-hall, the awe-inspiring Völkerschlachten Denkmal that looks like a towering stone monument straight out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
This atypical organization of the event spreads the gothic crowd all over the city, so every shop, café or restaurant you’ll visit, there will be other goths. The whole city turns black with gothic clothing everywhere. Everywhere, really.
And no funny looks from the locals, who are friendly and accustomed to seeing the most extreme and unique looks. You can truly embrace your dark side for a couple of days without having to fear the reaction of non-gothic people.
More than just gothic music
As already hinted, the Wave Gotik Treffen caters to all kinds of tastes, and so it is no surprise it offers a range of activities that goes far beyond concerts and music performances: step back from modern life and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the medieval market place or the pagan village.
Partake in the opulent branch meal accompanied with chamber music at Leipzig’s most beautiful cafés, or rally the Victorian Picnic in the park. Join a session of live action role-playing (LARP), sit down to listen in on a reading by one of the many book authors present at the event, for example at the historic Auerbach’s Keller, a nearly six hundred years old wine bar and restaurant, which rose to fame through Goethe’s “Faust”.
Shop for gothic clothing, showcase your unique outfits, and party until you drop
But the Wave Gotik Treffen is not all about culture and music, there are plenty of modern, mundane things to do; during the WGT, the local cinemas will premiere the latest horror movies, goth DJ’s from all over the world will rock the dancefloors of the clubs, there is a major fetish-fashion-show with strict dresscode, and last but not least, there is the biggest gothic shopping marketplace in the world!
That’s right, the second main hall of the Agra will turn into a giant marketplace for all things gothic, clothing, jewelry, accessories,apparel by all the big names mixed with unique designer pieces. You could spend countless hours browsing the booths and stalls of the gothic shop that are present, and you’d still not have seen it all.
You’ll be able to showcase your new found beauties at the Moritzbastei, a popular place for photographers to gather and take pictures of the most eccentric outfits – and there are many of them. It’s nicknamed the “catwalk” by detractors who frown upon what they think is “prettier than thou” competition, but in all honesty, many of the outfits are mind-blowing and inspiring. We enjoy spending a couple of hours there every year, getting a cold drink at the bar and just watching the beautiful clothes and outfits, inspiring us on some new items to get for our shop.
Just sitting down and enjoying the unique atmosphere of the Wave Gotik Treffen is what motivates most visitors to come back year after year, meeting friends from all over the world, people you might usually not see very often due to distance. The WGT feels like home for many of us.
Wave Gotik Treffen 2012
This years WGT takes place from May25th to May 28th, and 4 day tickets are available starting at € 81 (including advance sale charges).
You can additionally buy an “Obsorge Karte” for € 25, which gives you access to the camping site at the Agra as well as the luxurious Pfingstbote booklet, the festival program.
Billing 2012 – confirmed bands include:
- Clan of Xymox
- Diary of Dreams
- Douglas J. McCarthy (world premiere)
- Dreadful Shadows
- Funker Vogt
- Lacuna Coil
- Mad Sin
- Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio
- Project Pitchfork
Official festival website: www.wave-gotik-treffen.de
Phone: (+49) 341-2120862
RJ Images (www.rjimagesphotography.com)
Mister Denial (www.mister-denial.com)