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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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MUSIC

What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.

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