We're eagerly anticipating this years summer festival season, which will kick off next weekend with the world famous Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, and close with the popular Whitby Goth Weekend in November. We have compiled a list of festivals that will keep you busy throughout summer, with dates, locations, info and line-ups, as well as our personal recommendations and favorite activities.
Wave Gotik Treffen - June 6th - 9th (Leipzig, Germany)
(the entry about the WGT is a bit lengthy, but it is by far our favorite festival, so we hope you will forgive our enthusiasm)
The Wave Gotik Treffen is one of the oldest and longest running goth festivals in the world, taking place this year for the 23rd time. It is quite unique among music festivals because it is not limited to one location or music genre, there are over 200 bands of all caliber and reputation performing in venues as small as a pub to large headliner-type indoor halls. You can enjoy unplugged acoustic sets in the park, or a mean underground industrial beat in an old factory. As long as you like your sound dark, no matter what style of goth-era you prefer, you will find a lot of things to do. More than you actually can cope with, so you will need some extra-careful planning and prioritizing in order to see the bands you hold dearest.
Leipzig invaded by over 20.000 goths - and they like it!
This year the activities take place in nearly 20 different locations, spread all over the city of Leipzig, which can mean a lot of traveling back and forth to attend your preferred events. Fortunately Leipzig has a well-functioning bus and tramway network, and not-so-expensive taxis and cabs for those in a hurry. The positive side-effect of having the locations spread out all over the city is that wherever you go, there will be bats and goths strolling around, mingling with the friendly locals. Leipzig really turns into goth-town over those few days, and no matter how extravagant your clothes are, you will rarely get a funny look.
This is truly the place where you can be yourself and express your personality through aesthetics. You will see many gorgeous and unique outfits in Leipzig, especially at the Moritzbastei, which has become somewhat of a catwalk, with a crowd of photographers eager to catch the most beautiful gothic looks. It all happens very respectful though, most photographers ask for permission before taking a picture, so if you don't like being on photos, no need to worry.
The Moritzbastei is one of our favorite hang-outs in the inner city, there are tables to sit down and enjoy a drink while watching the come-and-go of people that attend the medieval market on top of the old bastion that houses the Moritzbastei. Inside you can also get a nice meal for little money, money that will go towards the upkeep of the Moritzbastei, a completely student-run place. And in the evening, it turns into THE party place for all goths who think that sleep is overrated.
More things to do at the WGT
Of course these is so much to do that you could spend the entire weekend at the WGT (the name by which most people know the Wave Gotik Treffen) without watching one single band: attend recitals at the famous Auerbach's Keller where Goethe wrote Faust, visit the Völkerschlachtendenkmal war memorial that would put many of the impressive Lord of the Rings settings to shame, enjoy a delicious glass of absinthe in the Sixtina, attend the Victorian brunch in the park, or simply enjoy meeting a bunch of new people from all over the world.
A glass of mead and a medieval fire show at the heathen village is of course also something you'd not want to miss, as is a trip to the Agra Halle for some headliner concerts or some serious shopping, because many shops and artisans are present to sell their goods (we're not there this year, sorry!).
Our personal favorite bands to see this year:
What is so great about the Wave Gotik Treffen is that they don't rely on the big names in this music genre to draw crowds. Instead, they have a lot of bands of all caliber, newcomers and established acts sharing stages, so it's a great opportunity to see bands you love live, and discover new acts at the same time. And of course there are exclusive performances or reunions, legends of the dark scene that you might not have had the opportunity to see live before. This year, we personally look forward to Christian Death, Rotersand, Mephisto Waltz, Front Line Assembly, Umbra et Imago, Anne Clark and Oomph.
For more information, tickets, full line-up and more, please visit the official WGT website here: http://www.wave-gotik-treffen.de/
Blackfield Festival - June 20th - 22nd (Gelsenkirchen, Germany)
The Blackfield Festival is a fairly new festival in Germany, taking place at amphitheater in Gelsenkirchen, ousting the Amphi Festival which had to relocate to Cologne. The Blackfield Festival usually draws a crowd of 12-15 thousand goths, mostly German, but with a good percentage of other nations attending too. The whole festival takes place in one location, the amphitheater of Gelsenkirchen; we love the location because you can either party in the crowd in front of the stage, or enjoy a more relaxed view of the whole affair from the stone stairs and seatings.
The whole vibe of this festival is very relaxed, it does not feel as commercial as some of the other big name festivals do. The festival site is mainly made of stone with little green areas to relax, but there is a nice selection of food and merchants if you need a break from the music. Speaking of which, this years favorite acts for us are ASP, VNV Nation and Fields of the Nephilim - we love Fields, they might not have the same eerie flair of the original line-up, but Carl McCoy is still a very charismatic shamanistic frontman. A must see if you have not yet.
Official website: www.blackfield-festival.de
Hellfest - June 20th - 22nd (France)
If you prefer harder and heavier music, or don't like traveling to Germany, the same weekend you can plan a trip to France, to the famous Hellfest festival, a more metallic music event, but with lots of nice acts we love to see live. This event takes place in the west of France in Clisson, near Nantes - it's about a 4-hour drive from Paris. If you're not scared by the notorious lack in the English-speaking-department most Frenchies display, you'll be in for a nice and very loud weekend! French crowds are among the wildest we know, so be ready for some serious headbanging, crowd surfing and war in the moshpit.
What we love about this festival is that they go beyond their black metal origins, and offer a nice variety of music genres and bands. We look very much forward to the fun antics of Norwegians Turbonegro, the most politically incorrect band in the world. We look forward to a bit of nostalgia with the Misfits (aka Jerry Only and some other dudes). We look forward to the gothic-rock of Paradise Lost, the dark metallic sounds of Iced Earth and some serious sonic beatings from Slayer. And last but not least, we look forward to Rob Zombie, who hopefully will bring as much of his show as possible to Europe, because we crave his visual extravaganza.
Official website: www.hellfest.fr
Amphi Festival - July 26/27 (Cologne, Germany)
This year is the10th anniversary edition of the Amphi Festival, now located in the city of Cologne, and taking place at the Tanzbrunnen. It's a nice small stage that offers a good view of all bands and performers, and the whole festival grounds are spacious with spots of green and a beach bar, great for relaxing between bands. The on-site food is usually better than most festivals, especially the pizza and the falafel. This years line-up is definitely more electronic and beat-oriented than previous years, with Blutengel, Die Krupps, Front 242, Project Pitchfork and Apoptygma Berzerk headlining. So you better get your dancing shoes on, the after-parties at the Amphi are legendary.
Official website: www.amphi-festival.de
M'era Luna - August 9/10 (Hildesheim, Germany)
The biggest and most commercial of all gothic summer festivals, the M'era Luna is the place to go if you want to see the big name bands. This annual event takes place on an abandoned airfield in the north of Germany, and is really an impressive sight - and site. The festival grounds offer spacious camping opportunities for the 20.000+ crowd that gathers here to celebrate acts like And One, Marilyn Manson, Within Temptation, In Extremo or Subway to Sally. And our personal favorite, Combichrist, they kick ass live.
The weather can be merciless in August, with extremes ranging from scorching sun that will turn the festival grounds into a dusty desert, or pouring rain that will turn the ground into a Woodstock-revival - we have experienced both. One year the rain was so bad that the large tent that housed our festival shop turned into some make-shift Noah's arch. Our staff-photographer Mister Denial almost lost his beloved New Rock boots to the mud while trying to wade to the front of the stage and shoot photos of the Sisters of Mercy gig. Anyways, be prepared for both extremes and hope for the best; because if the weather is nice, the M'era Luna is an awesome festival to attend.
Official website: www.meraluna.de
Whitby Goth Weekend - Oct. 31 - Nov. 2nd. (Whitby, UK)
The Whitby Goth Weekend takes place every year in the lovely coastal town of Whitby (what a surprise!), during the weekend of Halloween. It is one of the oldest gothic gatherings in Europe, founded in 1994 by Jo Hampshire. It brings thousands of people to the town every year, who come to enjoy the familiar atmosphere, take a tour of the Whitby Abbey, do some shopping at the alternative market and of course listen to live bands. And, if you want to do something very British while attending, go enjoy the mandatory fish-and-chips with a pint of ale - they're delicious! This year's line-up has not been confirmed yet, but rumor has it New Model Army might be on that list, and if that is so, no way we're going to miss out on that. See you all at Whitby, for the last festival of the year!
Official website: www.whitbygothweekend.co.uk