A large crowd of fans at the Wacken Open Air festival cheering in front of a stage with live band performance, large screens, and festival banners under a clear sky.

Wacken Open Air

Germany / July 31 - August 3, 2024








Festival Type









7: 5 Open-air, 2 tent


When Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen first had the idea of organizing an Open Air festival for fans of hard and heavy music in their home region of Wacken 30 years ago, they couldn’t have guessed that this idea would turn into the world’s biggest and most important Heavy Metal Festival. The first Wacken Open Air was visited by 800 fans, mostly from the region; six years later, 10,000 fans from all over northern Germany came to celebrate at the festival.

At the end of the 1990s, Wacken Open Air, as one of the first festivals, acknowledged the growing importance of the internet and learned how to use it effectively. Heavy Metal fans all over the world could be reached with this new medium. Bit by bit, Wacken Open Air became a meeting point for the international Heavy Metal scene. Together with the festival, the village Wacken became an example for tolerance and acceptance of hard and heavy music. The countrified County with 1800 inhabitants welcomes tens of thousands of Heavy Metal fans with a unique hospitality year after year. Every year the festival is an outstanding event for the village Wacken and the adjoined counties.

In 2003, for the first time, 30,000 visitors came to W:O:A. In the meantime, the festival had advanced to the most important date of the year, not only for fans from all over the world, but also to the artists of the genre, who made Wacken a fixed date on their schedules. Internationally known artists come to northern Germany every year. Whether it’s Motörhead, Saxon, Slayer or the British Heavy Metal legend Iron Maiden, who performed in 2008 – no artist wants to stand back when it comes to inspire 70,000 diehard festival visitors in a distinctively peaceful atmosphere.

The movie “Full Metal Village” by the Korean Sung Hyung Cho, which was honoured by the Max Ophüls price, impressively shows the atmosphere, village, fans and artists that make Wacken a unique experience every year.

Metal Battle supports newcomer bands

Furthermore, the organizers have constantly worked on the improvement of the infrastructure. Also, the advancement and support of newcomer bands are matters of importance for them. In 2005, the Metal Battle – a newcomer competition for Heavy Metal bands – was founded. After being a national competition in the first year; 24 countries take part in the Metal Battle nowadays. In 2008, an Israeli band won the Metal Battle final, which is performed at the festival itself. The band gets long-term support besides, of course, a label contract.

Finally, the idea to create a foundation, the Wacken Foundation, was created out of this commitment to newcomers. This foundation does not only support young musicians, but also families in need. One of the curators is, among others, the German singer Doro Pesch.

In 2009, Wacken Open Air celebrated its 20th anniversary. But the organizers do not rest on the laurels of their success story. They have invested in the infrastructure of the field over and over again to guarantee fans and musicians an unforgettable Heavy Metal experience each year.

In 2019, the festival was sold out for the 14th time in a row.

Genre & Program

Rock, Heavy Metal

Program References

Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Saxon, Avantasia, Blind Guardian, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Slayer, Twisted Sister and many, many more

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