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Germany's music festivals

Julian Tompkin
January 5, 2015

Germany has festivals for every taste, but tickets are sold out long in advance. If you want to snag one, don't procrastinate. Here are our picks for Germany's best music festivals.

Fans sitting on their friends' shoulders at Rock am Ring (Copyright: Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur)
Image: Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur

Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (May 22-25)

Goths have dressed in period couture and congregated on the lawns of Leipzig's parks and open spaces since 1998.

Events during Pentecost weekend celebrate numerous "dark arts" and include Renaissance, Viking and pagan markets. With more than 150 artists and up to 30,000 visitors, this festival is one of the world's largest for the mysterious music genre.

A woman visiting a Victorian picnic at Wave Gotik in Leipzig (Copyright: dapd)
Victorian picnic at Wave Gotik in LeipzigImage: dapd

Rock am Ring and Rock im Park (June 5-7)

2015 will herald a new venue for the legendary Rock am Ring festival. After 29 years of rocking the legendary Nürburgring racetrack in the Eifel Mountains, the event is now moving to the airport grounds in nearby Mendig. Heading up a superb line-up are international stars like the Foo Fighters and Germany's Die Toten Hosen.

Meanwhile, sister festival Rock im Park marks its 20th anniversary at the “Zeppelinfeld" down south in Nuremberg. This festival also boasts an A-list of headliners, including Slipknot, Rise Against, Motörhead and German acts like Beatsteaks, Kraftklub and Broilers.

Ticket prices start at 170 euros ($204) for a three-day pass. Festival trivia: In 2007 Rock am Ring festival-goers were part of a scientific experiment to test the effects of massive numbers of people jumping simultaneously. Who ever said rock'n'roll wasn't rocket science?

The main stage at Rock am Ring 2014 (Copyright: Gülden Akyol)
Rock music's cult site: Rock am RingImage: Gülden Akyol

Hurricane and Southside (June 19-21)

These twin pop/rock festivals take place at the same time in two states: Hurricane in the northern-central state of Lower Saxony and Southside to the south in Baden-Württemberg. And the accolades speak for themselves: At the 2014 European Festival Awards they were nominated for "Best Major Festival" and "Best European Festival Line Up." Tickets, including a camping pass, cost 139 euros. The 2015 roll-call is comprised of Farin Urlaub Racing Team, Florence & the Machine, Paul Kalkbrenner, Marteria, Cro, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and many others including popular German newcomers Milky Chance.

Fusion Festival (June 25-28)

Described as the Burning Man of Europe, Fusion - staged in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania - does things a little differently. A fusion of theater, performance art and lots of electro, the festival's quirks include a surprise lineup, vegetarian-only food and relatively affordable tickets, starting at just 90 euros. No wonder Fusion has been going strong since 1997.

Audience in the rain at a stage at the Fusion Festival (Copyright: Anne-Sophie Brändlin/ DW)
Don't forget to bring your umbrella to FusionImage: DW/A.-S. Brändlin

Summerjam (July 3-5)

Established in 1985, this ska/reggae fiesta takes place on the outskirts of Cologne, on an island in the middle of Lake Fühlingen. Reggae and rasta fans make the pilgrimage for three days of music, camping and sublime celebration. Joining the punters this year will be Damian Marley (son of Bob), Protoje, Patrice, Samy Deluxe and loads of others.

For music fans down south that aren't up for a big trip, there's the Chiemsee Summer Festival on the northern edge of the Alps from August 19-23. Five days and over a hundred bands dish out a mixed bag of reggae, hip hop, rock and electro.

Splash! (July 10-12)

PRhymes, Marsimoto and Chefket have been the cornerstone of Splash since its inception in 1998 and are reporting back for duty this year. The musical ingredients of this legendary festival are simple: hip hop, reggae, drum 'n' bass, and dancehall. Throw in competitions in graffiti art and DJ-scratching and you've got yourself a memorable party in Gräfenhainichen.

Melt! (July 17-19)

A week later, Ferropolis - an open-air museum for huge industrial machines near Gräfenhainichen, known as the "City of Iron" - serves as the spectacular backdrop to Melt!. This pop, rock, indie, and electro beat bash has been going strong since 1997. The more off-beat, the better.

Audience in front of a strip mining shovel at the Melt! Festival 2014 (Copyright: DW/T. Elbern)
Melt! provides the soundtrack to an industrial backdropImage: DW/T. Elbern

Wacken Open Air (July 30 - August 1)

The village of Wacken in the state of Lower Saxony has hosted what has become the world's biggest metal festival since 1990. 2014 marked the event's 10th consecutive sold-out year. With upwards of 70,000 visitors, "Wacken Village" is a venue for people who not only enjoy the scene, but also create it. On the bill for 2015 are metal legends Judas Priest, Skiltron and Black Label Society.

Haldern Pop (August 13-15)

In 1981, a couple of 13-year-old altar boys organized a party for the youth of Haldern village. Three years later it morphed into Haldern Pop - one of Germany's premium pop fests and playgrounds for acts like Extrabreit, Element of Crime and Franz Ferdinand. The festival keeps a strict cap on attendance to maintain the intimate atmosphere. Confirmed for 2015 are Jack Garratt, Soak, The Districts and Bernd Begemann & die Befreiung.

c/o pop (August 19-23)

Kicking off in 2004, this electronic music party calls itself the "truffle pig festival." The name is a commentary on its sensitive nose for choice acts. The winning formula: a few big names (including Gentleman and Tim Bendzko in past years) interspersed with lots of up-and-coming acts in a multi-venue, low-cost, easy-access affair for music lovers.

Pop=Kultur (August 26-28)

Following on the heels of popkomm, which moved from Cologne to Berlin in 2004, was the Berlin Music Week - which has now again changed its name, location and dates. But Pop=Kultur remains, like its predecessors, part festival, part trade fair for industry insiders. The new setting is Berghain, the legendary night club in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain.

Musician in front of a building with the Berlin Music Week logo, 2014 (Copyright: Reiner Schild/ DW)
Berlin Music Week becomes Pop=Kultur this yearImage: DW/R.Schild

Lollapalooza (September 12-13)

What kicked off in 1991 as a farewell tour for US alt-rock doyens Jane's Addiction has since morphed into one of the giants of the US festival calendar. And now, following its international debuts in Santiago, São Paulo and Buenos Aires, the juggernaut finally comes to Europe - to Berlin's Tempelhof Airport. The line-up is yet to be announced, but having played host to everyone from Lady Gaga and Björk to Pearl Jam and the Beastie Boys (and everything in between) we can only expect the finest. Two-day passes start from 119 euros.

Reeperbahnfestival (September 23-26)

Another mix of trade fair and festival, the Reeperbahnfestival has been staged in Hamburg's red-light district since 2006 and is now Germany's biggest club festival. Media and urban art, literature, film, showcases and workshops all descend on what is colloquially known as the Kiez, Germany's densest network of pubs and taverns. All the Luck in the World, Audience Killers and Black Eyed Dog have signed on for 2015, with many more to come.

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