Wacken Open Air Turns 25

Fans at W.O.A. 2015 Enlarge image These fans don't let a little rainy weather dampen their fun at W.O.A. 2015. (© picture alliance / Fotostand) For one week each year at the height of summer, the sleepy, rural village of Wacken in western Schleswig-Holstein becomes the worldwide epicenter of heavy metal music. This year the Wacken Open Air, the world’s biggest heavy metal festival, turns 25. From a line-up of just six bands and a few hundred fans at the first W.O.A. in 1990 to the now over 100 acts and an expected attendance of some 75,000, the festival has more than grown into its own. But some things about the gathering haven’t changed.

  • It’s still held on farm land in the open air, which means attendees contend with whatever the weather brings, from pouring rain and epic mud to sunny skies and summer temperatures.
  • The anything-goes atmosphere makes for amazing people watching.
  • The festival lineup is all about heavy metal music, though each year the event is opened by the local fire departments brass band. This year’s headliner is the US band Savatage whose members haven’t played together in that constellation since 2006. They are now better known as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the two bands will do a simultaneous show on two stages at this year’s Wacken. Also taking the W.O.A. stage this year will be Judas Priest. 
  • The residents of Wacken still warmly welcome the annual pilgrimage of metal fans.

Click through our gallery for more on this year's festival.

W.O.A. at 25

Wacken Open Air

Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra

In the largest production ever at W.O.A., headliners Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra rocked two stages simultaneously.

Locals welcome heavy metal pilgrims

Locals welcome heavy metal pilgrims

Locals in Wacken, population 1,800, are welcoming of the heavy metal pilgrims that descend on their village every year.