Wacken Open Air

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Location: Wacken, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany Birth: 1990 Run: 24 times Status: active  
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© Rolf Klatt, Dirk Illing

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Wacken Open Air or (W:O:A) is literally the biggest annual open air metal festival in Germany and may be even in the world. It takes place in the small town of Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany, always on the first August week-end. The audience is usually huge (in 2011 it was attended by 80.000 fans – more than at Rock am Ring!), exactly as the style range: black metal, death metal, power metal, thrash metal, gothic metal, nu metal, folk metal and even metalcore and hard rock.

W:O:A was born in 1990 as a small 2-day event for just a few local German bands (SKYLINE, 5TH AVENUE, MOTOSLUG, SACRET SEASON, AXE ‘N SEX and WIZZARD), but by 1998 it had become the major festival on the European metal calendar and has included over 70 bands from all over Europe, North America and Australia. W:O:A is usually held at the beginning of August and lasts three days, during which the festival-goers camp on several large camping grounds surrounding the actual festival area. The bands perform on four separate stages over the course of the event.

Since 2002, the Wacken Firefighters, the local volunteer fire department band, traditionally opens the festival.

The 2009 edition set a sales record; it sold out on 30 December 2008, twice a year! All 70,000 tickets were sold over 200 days before the festival’s opening. However, the 2012 edition broke this record again; sold out on 29th November, a good 8 months before the opening of the festival all 75.000 tickets were sold. The W:O:A 2012 took place with 137 bands, performing on seven stages.

It’s useless to try menationing the bands who’ve played at Wacken Open Air for all these years, because it’s much easier to remember those who haven’t. Even the first names of metal music like SLAYER, BLIND GUARDIAN or IRON MAIDEN are proud to headline it. In 2008 W:O:A won the Live Entertainment Award for being the best festival of 2007. The event’s motto is “Faster, Harder, Louder”.

In 2005 Wacken Open Air was immortalized in the famous rock-documentary “Metal

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