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Festival-goers after the opening of the gates in front of a stage on the site

Photo: Christian Charisius / dpa

Endless mud, delays and a lot of rain – the heavy metal festival in Wacken will be accompanied by chaotic scenes this summer. Interruption of arrival, no vehicles at first, shortly before the official start on Wednesday no more metal fans are allowed on the heavily muddy and rain-soaked area in Schleswig-Holstein. Visitors who have left are now to get their money back. This is the situation:

No more travel

85,000 tickets are sold every year for the internationally known major event, which is considered the world's largest metal festival and is famous for its exuberant and peaceful atmosphere. According to police estimates on Wednesday, there were about 50,000 fans on the festival grounds, who had already reached it before the announcement of the admission stop. About half of the completely soaked camping areas were occupied.

In view of the weather conditions, the "reasonable number of visitors" had been reached, the organizers announced during the night. Any further journey must be stopped and cancelled with immediate effect.« It was the first time in the history of the festival that such a decision had to be made. "We've tried all sorts of things, but unfortunately we can't let any more people into the Holy Ground."

Not on the premises – what about the ticket?

The organizers announced refunds on Wednesday for fans who were no longer allowed on the site. In addition to the Wacken Open Air, this also applies to camping areas, the organizers announced on their website. »Detailed information about the refund process – and also about when you fans can expect the refund – will be announced shortly.« The tickets cost just under 300 euros. The festival organizer has set up an e-mail address where Wacken fans can contact with questions about refunds: refund23@wacken.com .

In spite of everything: Start of the festival

Despite the pouring rain, the festival started in the afternoon with the planned stage program, after it was officially heralded in the morning by the traditional performance of the band of the Wacken Volunteer Fire Department. Organizer Jensen and Hübner emphasized in their video message that the event should take place despite adverse circumstances. All those involved would now "do everything" to achieve this, said Hübner.

What's next?

It remains to be seen how things will continue in Wacken in the coming days. The organizers want to publish the program of the festival, which ends on Sunday night, on a daily basis. Originally, a total of more than 200 bands were expected on the nine stages. With the delays to the start, the organizers justified the cancellation of six bands. These are, among others, bands that wanted to take part in the »Metal Battle« competition for young talent.

... And what was it like before?

The open-air has been held every August since 1990 in the rural area near Wacken in southwestern Schleswig-Holstein and has achieved cult status among metal fans and bands thanks to its size and atmosphere. The festival has had to deal with mud and rain before, but has never been so affected by it before. It was only cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the corona pandemic.