Got festival fever? Here are Germany’s best picks

Whether you're an indie kid, a pop lover or a metalhead, there's a festival for you in Germany this summer.

Got festival fever? Here are Germany's best picks
Wacken Open Air festival in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Wacken Open Air (August 4th-6th)

Wacken, Schleswig-Holstein

Front-row fans at Wacken Open Air 2015. Photo: DPA

This hard rock and metal festival is a European must. This year Wacken Open Air will be attracting hardcore Scandinavian metal bands such as Arch Enemy and Marduk as well as huge international hard rock and metal names like Foreigner, Iron Maiden, Blue Öyster Cult and Whitesnake.

International heavy metal magazine Metal Blast called Wacken “the most important metal festival in the world”. If you arrive a day early, the stages will already be full of battle of the bands tournaments featuring upcoming metal bands from all over the world.

Tickets to the festival are sold out, but if you're a metalhead, it's imperative you go. You'll be sure to find some tickets floating around online.

Melt! Festival (July 15th-17th)

Ferropolis, Saxony-Anhalt

Around 20,000 people at Melt! Festival 2013. Photo: DPA

Looking for something more mainstream, but still not quite pop, and also a bit edgy? Melt is perfect, featuring a line-up mainly of indie rock artists with a few rogue choices here and there. If you decide to pay the festival a visit this year, you'll be treated to performances by M83, Skepta, Tame Impala, Jamie xx, Two Door Cinema Club and Chvrches.

Melt's clinch is its entirely unique location. Around two hours south of Berlin, the festival takes place on a small peninsula called Ferropolis (city of steel), surrounded by a beautiful lake. The peninsula itself is littered with old machinery up to 30 metres in height, as the area used to be a mining site and is now an open-air industrial machine museum for the rest of the year.

If you think a whole weekend would be too much of a good thing, you have the option to buy a ticket for a single day out of the three. 

Tollwood Summerfestival  (June 26th-July 24th)

Munich Olympiapark, Bavaria

Giraffes carved out of wood at Tollwood Summerfestival. Photo: DPA

Tollwood is less of a strictly-organised weekend festival and more of a four-week extravaganza, attracting on average 1.5 million visitors. Individual concerts from one artist will take place on a certain night, and you pay to see whichever you want. Upcoming performances include Beirut on July 10th, Anastacia on the 11th, Deep Purple on the 19th and Rea Garvey on the 24th.

The festival is not just music-based. There will also be comedy and cabaret going on around the festival area, and three quarters of all acts at Tollwood are free to see.

Lollapalooza Berlin (September 10th-11th)

Treptower Park, Berlin

Lollapalooza Festival 2015. Photo: DPA

This two-day festival is a branch of the American Lollapalooza held in Chicago's Grant Park, and is the first in Europe. Despite only being in its second year, Melvin Benn, one of the festival's promoters, claimed: “I don’t know if there’s a more visually attractive festival in Germany.”

This year's line-up is full of worldwide rock and dance sensations such as Radiohead, Kings of Leon, New Order, Major Lazer and the Kaiser Chiefs.

There is a special area called Der Grüne Kiez, where you can take a break from the music and enjoy some calm time with a glass of wine in the gardens with some vegan or vegetarian food. There will also be art installations made from recycled materials along with workshops and street theatre.

A Summer's Tale (August 10th-13th)

Eventpark Luhmühlen, Lower Saxony

Sick of hustle and bustle? Want to tone it down? This relaxed festival might be right up your street. This year the weekend incorporates acts like Sigur Rós, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Garbage.

But A Summer's Tale is more of an all-rounder than a festival specifically geared towards music. There are a monumental number of workshops on offer, and you can spend the weekend learning yoga, finger knitting, or practising slam poetry. If you explore the park, you might also find movies on show, art performances and authors giving readings of their books.

Chiemsee Summer (August 24th-27th)

Chiemsee, Bavaria

A sailboat on Bavaria's Chiemsee. Photo: DPA

This four-day festival at one of Bavaria's most popular holiday spots, the Chiemsee, is an unusual mix of fresh, lively music. The line-up consists of rock, electro and reggae artists including Limp Bizkit, Sum 41, The Prodigy, Steve Aoki and Damian Marley.

The Chiemsee is the biggest lake in Bavaria, and you can go for a swim to freshen up in the morning after a big night of partying. You can also hire a kayak or a boat and explore the waters with the mellifluous sound of The Prodigy giving you a peaceful soundtrack.

By Ali Butt

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Dancing like there’s no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig

For techno enthusiast Philipp Koegler, it almost felt like a normal Saturday night again as he joined 200 fellow revellers at "Distillery", the first German nightclub to reopen since the start of the pandemic.

Dancing like there's no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig
A file photo of a disco ball in a night club. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Britta Pedersen

“Tonight, there are no rules,” the almost 30-year-old told AFP, whipping off his mask on his way to the dance floor.

Despite more than a year of closures forced by the coronavirus, it didn’t take long for the thumping beats, low lights and buzzing crowds to reawaken the much-missed club atmosphere.

“It feels like I’ve come back after being away on vacation for a week,” Koegler beamed.

But of course there are some rules to restarting the party, even in Germany where coronavirus infections have declined steadily in recent weeks as the pace of vaccinations has picked up.

The Distillery club in the eastern city of Leipzig, which bills itself as the oldest techno venue in Germany’s former Communist east, is taking part in a pilot project supported by scientists from the Max Planck institute and the local university hospital.

Just 200 club-goers are allowed in instead of the usual 600 and each person must take two different kinds of coronavirus tests earlier in the day, with entry granted only if they test negative both times.

Once inside, the masks can come off and revellers don’t have to socially distance.

Each participant also agrees to being re-tested a week later, to uncover potential infections despite the precautions taken.


Organisers hope the project can serve as a blueprint for further club re-openings to help the hard-hit sector back on its feet after a devastating year.

Although several venues in Germany experimented with open-air parties, club-goer Konny said it “just isn’t the same”.

“In the club, you’re in a different world,” she said.

Growing influence

Distillery manager Steffen Kache expressed pride at being the first club in the country to reopen indoors.

“Everyone is jealous,” he told AFP.

Kache said that if there has been an upside to the pandemic closures, it was that politicians had woken up to the social and economic importance of Germany’s vibrant club culture.

Lawmakers last month agreed to reclassify nightclubs as cultural institutions rather than entertainment venues, putting them on a par with
theatres and museums to provide more protection and tax benefits.

Germany’s nightlife capital Berlin alone – home to iconic clubs Berghain, KitKat and Tresor – usually attracts tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year who generate over a billion euros in revenues.   

Many observers fear that when the pandemic dust has settled, not all of Germany’s clubs will have survived the lengthy shutdowns.

The collaboration with local authorities that made Distillery’s pilot project possible was “unthinkable before the crisis”, Kache said, and evidence of a “reconciliation” between underground club culture and the political establishment.

He said he hoped the next step would be “the nationwide reopening of cultural spots and clubs, without Covid restrictions”.