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Wacken to hold a 'mini' heavy metal festival

Silke Wünsch
June 16, 2021

Allowed to be loud again: with Bullhead City, Wacken organizers are planning a streamlined version of the heavy metal festival. Top names are on the bill.

Two fans covered in mud at the Wacken outdoor festival.
Wacken is known for its music — and its mud battles Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Heimken

After two years without the Wacken festival, live music will once again rock the "holy ground" — as the event's site is affectionately called by fans. 

From September 16 to 18, 2021, the Wacken Open Air (WOA) will welcome enthusiasts to Bullhead City, a mini edition of the world-famous heavy metal event.

Large and small festivals had to be canceled this year for the second time due to continued uncertainty regarding the COVID pandemic.

Now, a few courageous organizers are sticking to their vision: Wacken founders Thomas Jensen and Holger Hübner are staging their small replacement festival.

Bullhead City: Modest, but still loud

Bullhead City will host several stages. The main stage, and thus the heart of the small festival, will be on the Bullhead City Plaza. Wacken connoisseurs know that this is where the huge Bullhead City circus tent is usually located. The spacious area offers enough room for bands and the audience.

Of course, this year, the usual number of 80,000 visitors will not be filling up the space; it's presumably to be more like a metal family reunion.

How many people will actually be allowed to attend is now being clarified with the public authorities of Schleswig-Holstein, the northern German state home to Wacken. Currently, the number up for debate is some 20,000 visitors.

A strict hygiene plan is already in place, but will be continually modified depending on the pandemic situation. Since camping possibilities will be limited, fans will be able to buy single-day tickets. The full three-day drone of heavy metal will therefore be reserved for only a few.

A wide range of acts

Ten bands — including Wacken veterans and crowd favorites — have been signed on by the organizers so far.

Fans are already excited to hear that Finnish symphonic metal giants Nightwish, German heavyweights Blind Guardian and Powerwolf, as well as Wacken queen Doro Pesch are among the headliners.

German medieval rock will be provided by Saltatio Mortis, hardcore by Nasty and black metal by Gaahls Wyrd. Death metal fans will look out for Endseeker. Newcomers Slope promise a crossover style, while Burning Witches will heat things up with classic '80s metal.

Schleswig-Holstein state government helping out

"We can hardly wait to finally celebrate together with fans again," said a delighted Holger Hübner, managing director of the Wacken Festival.

Thomas Jensen wearing black leather jacket and sunglasses.
Wacken co-founder Thomas Jensen praised the support of the state of Schleswig-HolsteinImage: picture-alliance/abaca/J. Reynaud

With the recent positive development of declining COVID infections in Germany, bands, crews and fans had been impatiently wondering why they should be forced to wait until next year, said Hübner.

"We want Bullhead City to be a bright spot in this second year of cancellations," he added.

His partner Thomas Jensen praised the productive collaboration with the state of Schleswig-Holstein, and said it has revealed clear prospects for events that could be held based on a multi-phase concept of opening up venues. "This support allows us to plan while ensuring the safety of participants and the region," he said.

More news on the Bullhead City Festival will follow shortly. Pre-sales will begin in late June/early July.

This article has been adapted from German by Louisa Schaefer.