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Wave Gotik Treffen: Thoughts from a First Timer –

GERMANY | Thursday, 9 July 2015 | Views [613]

Wave Gotik Treffen, outside Absintherie Sixtina

Wave Gotik Treffen, outside Absintherie Sixtina

Wave Gotik Treffen is known as the biggest gothic music festival in the world. It takes place in late May (the weekend of Pentecost, also Memorial weekend for those of us hailing from America) in Leipzig, Germany. It has an incredibly huge lineup of musicians and acts that take place all over the city! Tickets run from 99€ in advance to 120€ day-of for the weekend including free transportation.

After wanting to go for YEARS I finally managed to make the trek in 2015 for their 24th year. Going to a huge music festival alone, especially in a foreign country, is a rather daunting experience! I managed to find myself a room to rent through Airbnb to save on costs and just sort of met people along the way as the weekend progressed… I’m not going to go in-depth on the activities that happen every year but use broad sweeping strokes of my experience throughout the weekend.

The People:
Overall I found most of the event-goers were repeat visitors and knew a number of people from prior years and were happy to stick with that group making it hard to try and approach people. The crowds seemed mostly Western European with a number of Brits thrown in the mix and, as mentioned, I had a hard time trying to make friends because the groups seemed a bit clique-y. I did manage to meet a couple of lovely people who took me under their wing and helped out which made the experience so much easier. Overall I’m not sure I found the experience to be super-friendly which makes me less inclined to go next year or another year down the road unless I brought my own group of friends.

The Venues:
…were very disparate. You literally run around the entire city to try and go to all the events going on and find yourself exhausted and missing out on a TON of things. I felt it would be best to take it easy and go with the flow. Apparently that just meant that I spent most of my time at the bigger venues – like the Agra – just hanging around or shopping at the Gothic Market and missing out on some of the smaller acts that were in less-than-easy-to-get-to venues. Still, the places I made it to were pretty awesome and I loved being able to hop on and hop off trams without paying. The best past is the black tram line that appears every year for WGT and disappears after the festival is over. Leipzig is cool like that.

The Bands:
Ohmygodthebands. So many bands! Everywhere! I was especially pleased to finally catch L’Ame Immortelle live. The band list appear on the website and by email as they are confirmed slowly though the year until rapidfire emails with all of the finalizing of the band list right before the event. So many bands it was overwhelming and I am sad that I missed out on so many small acts who were playing up against larger acts. You pick and choose your battles and unfortunately that means that you will never see all the bands that you want.

The Fashion:
There seems to be two generalized fashion camps at WGT: the Victorian-inspired fashion (Victorian, Lolita, Steampunk, military-inspired) and the more cyber-inspired fashion (raver-types, etc.). I didn’t know what to expect but I was honestly hoping for more variety in the scene. When I asked one of the gents I met there where I ended up on the fashion spectrum he wasn’t sure because I didn’t neatly fit into either of those two categories. Still, even so, there were some AMAAAAAZING costumes that were well worth taking photos of. I definitely had a great time people-viewing while sitting outside at a café. Come prepared to dress to impress because THIS is definitely the place to do it. If you have a high calibre outfit consider the Victorian picnic or one of the other fashion-related events that happen throughout the long weekend.

Accomodation:
Most hotels are booked solid really early on so start looking for accommodation as soon as you decide that you are going. Also, Airbnb has a number of locals that know the festival is coming through and expect price hikes for that weekend alone. I had to reach out to maybe 10 different places on Airbnb before I got an approval from someone. Also, go for a place closer to the city-center not closer to the Agra. You'll be heading out at night to some club venues that are in the city proper. I ended up by the TV tower which is quite close to Moritzbastei where you can dance your little heart out throughout the evening and into the early morning. I know I did at least once or twice - and the best part was being only a 10 minute walk away. Lucky!

The City:
Leipzig seemed a bit suburban as far as a city goes. It’s not as big as Berlin but not tiny either. I admit I only came for the festival so I didn’t do anything touristy outside of popping by the Medieval Marketplace so it is a bit hard for me to review the city itself. I found it charming, if a bit like an older variant of a concrete jungle with pretty architecture. Perhaps worth a visit if you’re already in Berlin. Due to train strikes I took a bus to Berlin from Leipzig and found it very reasonable… 

Anyway, it was a checkmark in my list of life events that I must do. I am very glad I had the option to go but I don’t know that enjoyed myself enough to go again – like a number of the Europeans I saw with a long list of WGT bracelets on their wrists. I’m thinking of maybe trying for Convergence in New Orleans next year instead and see what a gothic festival in America is like (even if it will definitely be on the smaller side compared to WGT - but then again pretty much everything is after that, haha).

If you want to go definitely book accomodation as soon as you can, stock up on your New Rock Boots or steel boned corsets, buy a ticket in advance if you can manage it (I couldn't - I didn't have a European bank account), get ready to walk around a lot (consider sunscreen or parasols), and bring enough euros to last the weekend as not all places take credt cards (which I found out the hard way and had to pull out cash from an ATM paying premium fees. Boo!). Also, check out where bands are so you can try to plan your day if you want to see specific bands considering how far away some venues are from each other. 

Happy festival stomping!

Tags: clubbing, fashion, germany, gothic, leipzig, music festival, wave gotik treffen

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