Berlin might be known for its amazing club scene, but the rest of the country also offers up some fantastic musical experiences by way of festivals. As head of Germany-based online music magazine ‘Nothing But Hope and Passion’, Robert Helbig knows exactly what’s hot and what’s not. He’s shared with us his top ten German music festivals and we’re pretty confident that there’s something to please everyone - from metal heads to hip hop fans, and everything in between.
Immergut is a small indie festival that has been rocking Neustrelitz, just north of Berlin, for the past 15 years. This year’s event takes place from May 30th-31st, with 5,000 visitors expected. The full line-up is yet to be announced but acts including Future Islands, Slut, Mozes and the Firstborn, Justus Köhncke, Judith Holofernes and Sven Regener are already confirmed.
The festival’s 15th anniversary means that there will be an extra special atmosphere this year but the real draw is its location; Immergut takes place in the middle of the beautiful Mecklenburger Lake District, also known as ‘the land of a thousand lakes’.
Appletree Garden Festival
Anyone who likes their electro music or indie-pop should take a look at the Appletree Garden Festival. For three days in July (24th-26th), a line-up featuring the likes of Bilderbuch, Dan Croll, Findlay, FM Belfast, Lucy Rose, Scarlett O'Hanna, Son Lux, WhoMadeWho and Xul Zolar will entertain the crowds at Bürgerpark in Diepholz.
Appletree draws crowds of about 5,000 and is open-air. In July you can hope for good weather too!
Haldern Pop Festival
Haldern Pop Festival is a hugely popular festival for hardcore indie pop fans; it sold out in a couple of days this year, despite just a few acts being announced. Now in its 31st year, its popularity no-doubt has something to do with a traditionally strong line-up and the quirky locations at which gigs take place; the town’s church has even been used as a venue!
The festival takes place in Haldern-Rees, in western Germany, from August 7th - 9th. This year’s line-up includes Fink, Champs, Chet Faker and All The Luck In The World, with more acts to be announced soon.
Melt! festival recently won Best Medium Sized Festival 2013 at the European Festival Awards, so it’s definitely worth checking out. For 2014, it’ll be taking place from 18th-20th July at the stunning industrial grounds of Ferropolis, a former industrial area located close to Berlin and Leipzig.
So far, about seventy acts have been announced including Bombay Bicycle Club, Boys Boize, Chet Faker, Dillon, FM Belfast, Fritz Kalkbrenner, Fuck Buttons, Gesaffelstein, Haim, Jugwar Ma, John Talabot, Kid Simius, Kölsch, Lulu James, Metronomy, Mighty Oaks, Moderat, Modeselektor, Röyksopp & Robyn Do It Again, Portishead, Tensnake, The Notwist, Pantha du Prince, SOHN, SBTRKT, Skream, Son Lux, Tiga, and WhoMadeWho.
Hurricane Festival takes place from June 20th - 22nd at Eichenring, Scheeßel in northern Germany. This major festival has one of the strongest line-ups of all the German festivals, with acts including Bastille, Chvrches, Franz Ferdinand, Macklemore and Metronomy. It actually takes place on the same weekend as the Rock am Ring and the Rock im Park festivals, which are some of Germany’s most well-known, however its strong line-up means it still draws huge crowds.
Mera Luna Festival
Mera Luna is the festival for you if you’re into rock and metal. Taking place from August 9th - 10th in the city of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover, this year’s line-up features the likes of Marilyn Manson, And One, In Extremo, Deine Lakaien, Subway To Sally, Paradise Lost, Lacrimas Profundere, Combichrist, DE/VISION, Das Ich, Darkhaus, Solar Fake, and The Beauty Of Gemina. If you can’t make it to Leipzig’s Wave & Gotik Treffen (the largest gothic festival on the planet) then Mera Luna is no poor substitute!
Sonne Mond Sterne Festival
Electro-lovers should definitely head to Saalburg (also known as the green heart of Germany) this August for Sonne Mond Sterne. The festival’s name translates to ‘sun, moon, stars’ and if that doesn’t sell it to you then the line-up will; for 2014, the likes of Deadmau5, Fatboy Slim, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, The Bloody Beetroots, Netsky, Solomun, Mr. Oizo, Modestep, Klangkarussell, Lexy & K-Paul, Marek Hemmann, Oliver Koletzki, Kölsch and Dirty Doering will be playing.
Fusion Festival might be one of the most special festivals ever. With a background in the hippie movement, Fusion sells out every year and is known for its amazing atmosphere. The line-up gets announced at the festival, so you won’t find out which bands, acts and artists you can actually see at Fusion, but you can safely say it won’t be a disappointment, whether you’re into techno, pop, rock or metal; there’s something for everyone.
For 2014 the festival will take place from June 26th - 29th at the former military airport in Lärz, a small town north of Berlin.
MS Dockville Festival
MS Dockville Festival focuses on both music and art and will take place from August 15th - 17th in Hamburg. Now in its 8th year, it has a strong musical line-up, featuring acts such as Jake Bugg, Hercules & Love Affair, Kollektiv Turmstraße, Olafur Arnalds, SOHN, RY X, Nils Frahm, Bear’s Den, Young Dreams, Baths, Siriusmo, Pional, Say Yes Dog, Broken Twin, Xul Zolar, Carlos Cipa, and Pandreas. All this is nicely complimented by ‘Kunstcamp’; an art area where you can take a look at a huge number of exhibitions.
Germany even has a festival for fans of hip hop and rap; from July 11th - 13th Splash takes place at Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen (the same place where the Melt! Festival happens a week later).
Rumours suggest that 2014 might see Eminem, Cypress Hill, Jonwayne and Outkast play, but there have been no official announcements on these acts to-date. Even so, there line-up’s looking pretty strong with the likes of A$AP Ferg, Vic Mensa, Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf as well as German-speaking artists such as ERRdeKa and Fünf Sterne Deluxe.
If you liked this, check out these posts on Germany:
A music junkies guide to Germany
Why we love Germany
Best of the Wurst - a foodies guide to Germany