Friday, 28 March 2014

Wave Gotik Treffen is Coming!

Wave Gotik Treffen, or WGT for short, is an annual goth festival in Leipzig, Germany. I've been there on three previous years, and this year is no different. The hotel and flights are booked so my other half and I get to enjoy the festival once again!

Here's my guide to the festival: how to get there, places to see and general hints & tips on things I've learned while there.



When to start planning

WGT is very popular, which means hotels are often fully booked months in advance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're booked in a hotel, you're probably only going to have a tiny minibar, so you have to choose carefully if you want to have things that need to be kept cold. If you're in an apartment hotel, you'll probably have a full size fridge, which will naturally allow for more food. Apartment hotels typically don't serve breakfast, but then again they have kitchen areas where you can make your own whenever you do feel like getting out of bed ;P

You can occasionally find a great hotel deal in the last minute, but to be on the safe side, you should be looking for a suitable hotel already around Christmas the previous year. Most hotels can be cancelled at a very late date, so if for some reason you were not able to go, no money is lost. Some hotels charge the amount when you book, others only when you check in. There's also a camping area for the frugal visitors; it costs 25 euros in addition to the normal ticket.

Flights are best reserved either at the same time as your lodgings or a few months later. Once again there can be great offers, but to be sure to get a flight, book early. Flights usually cannot be cancelled without an extra fee, so if you are unsure, book the hotel and get the flights only when you are sure you are going. My other half and I usually arrive to Leipzig on Wednesday (the festival starts on Thursday) and leave on Tuesday (the festival ends on Monday).

Festival tickets can be bought either in advance or at Leipzig. Even if you get the tickets by mail, you need to change them for the festival wristband at Leipzig, so you might need to stand in a queue anyway. You can order tickets here. A four day ticket is 99 euros and the shipping fee is 8 euros (both for Germany and internationally), you can order many tickets with the same shipping fee.

My pre-festival planning ritual typically involves checking out all the announced bands on Youtube and marking down the ones are interesting. This makes choosing where to go during the festival much easier!

How to get there

I travel from Finland, and the easiest way has usually been to fly to Berlin and then take the train to Leipzig. From Berlin Tegel airport the taxi to the railway station costs around 15 euros, so if you have two or three people sharing the cost, it's quite cheap. There's also a bus to the railway station but it's VERY packed. Riding on it on a hot day is not fun, I must say.

Buy the train tickets in advance from the DB website! It's cheaper by far. They also have good group discounts if you are traveling with more people. I've paid between 92 euros and 49 euros for two people traveling between Leipzig and Berlin. Check the train schedule so you can choose a cheap option. There are lots of shops and restaurants in the station building, so you can easily spend a few hours there. There's also an option of storing your luggage at the station and take a walk to see some sights, like the holocaust memorial and Brandenburger gate that are only a few minutes away. If you booked your train ride in advance online, it is required that you show the conductor the credit card with which the tickets were paid. One time I actually ran into a situation where I had paid the tickets with a card that had since expired and was no longer on me, but it all ended up fine after I was able to present my passport to prove my identity.

If you find flights to Leipzig, it might be a cheaper option than going through Berlin. This year we are going straight to Leipzig.

How to prepare in Leipzig

Get groceries and other vital things! I like to buy a six pack of Apfelschorle and keep a bottle or two cool so I can always have a nice, cool drink when needed. Shops like DM and Rossman sell shampoo, shower gel and conditioner in small bottles, so you don't have to bring your own. Invest in sunscreen, it's usually sunny and you are going to be spending time outside, so you're better off protected!

Eating & Drinking

In the centre of Leipzig there are plenty of restaurants. For vegetarians the Indian restaurants are great, but most places offer a few vegetarian options as well. During the festival, Moritzbastei is a great place to eat, since there's always plenty of other festival visitors there and it's quite centrally placed. Compared to Finnish prices, the restaurant are really cheap. During concerts you can almost always find places that sell food right outside the venue. For a late meal, Moritzbastei offers food well into the night. My usual routine has been to head there after the last performance of the evening to eat and meet up with friends who went to other venues. Their spinach lasagna is to die for, even for a person who also eats meat!

If beer is not your thing, some concert venues sell cider for an alternative alcoholic beverage. There's also cola-beer, wine, cola-wine and a small selection of drinks. And then there's apfelschorle (non alcoholic, a mix of sparkling water and apple juice). And met. I love met! More on that in the sights section!

Music

The festival is HUGE. There's music for every taste, ranging from classical to medieval folk to gothic rock to punk to EBM. Make sure to plan ahead and choose the bands that you absolute need to see, then go ahead and try a few new ones that you might like. My problem has always been that there's too much to see and do! You can find the currently confirmed bands here.

A bit lower there's a section on how to move around the city, but if two performances are very close together, take a taxi cab so you don't get stuck waiting for the tram that's going to be packed.

After the performances are over for the evening, there's still a party going on in Mortizbastei in the centre of the city. There are many dance floors so you can choose the music style you like, or find a table and drink and eat. It's a great place to meet with friends that have gone to other venues during the day.

Shopping

The Agra Hall offers a heaven for a gothic shopper. There're booths that sell all kinds of clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories. Be sure to reserve some time to walk the hall back and forth in order to compare prices to find the best deals! X-tra-X usually has great discount items in very small and very large sizes. Many stalls carry the same items but the prices may differ. Many times the big labels also have their own discount stores in the centre of Leipzig. Last year, Queen of Darkness and X-tra-X both had shops. X-tra-X also has a permanent shop in the city with three floors of gorgeous clothing. I like to also visit Rossman, DM and Claire's at the Leipzig railway station, since Finland doesn't have these stores and I'm a sucker for cheap cosmetics and jewellery. Rossman and DM carry reasonably priced organic cosmetics among other things, and I always stay in forever looking at the essence nail polishes and make-up. Claire's obviously knows their audience, and usually puts the black frilly stuff out front during the festival!

There's also a Saturn shop in the railway station where you can get all kinds of electronics. Compared to Finland the prices are very nice, so if I need things like headphones, memory cards or similar, I'll head there.

Sights and things to do other than music

Heidnisches dorf (literally Pagans' village) is a place you might want to visit even if no bands that interest you play there. It's a faux medieval village, very pretty! They serve beer and other drinks in clay mugs and you can sit on long benches by a bonfire. Volkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) is a memorial to a huge battle fought in Leipzig; a massive, towering stone building with a great view from the top. It's right next to the Südfriedhof, an old cemetary with beautiful stone angels and lovely park-like atmosphere. The Egyptian museum of Leipzig usually offers free entry with the festival wristband on a certain  day. It's a fairly small museum, but very nice. On top of Moritzbastei, there's a medieval fair where the stalls sell food, jewellery, clothing and other things, and my favourite, met! It's a honey wine that comes in many variations and can be served either hot or cold. They also serve met at the Agra Messe Hall where bands play, and while delicious, they only sell one one variety, Wikinger Blut.

Getting around

The festival wristband allows you to freely use public transportation, so that is the cheapest way to go places. The tram rides can be long some times, so reserve plenty of time for travelling if a band you really want to see is playing. Taxi cabs are easy to use and the drivers often speak English. If not, you can always write down the address of your destination and show it to them. When leaving a hotel, you can ask the reception to call a taxi for you. When a performance ends, there are usually huge queues for taxis, but if you don't want to wait start walking in the direction where most taxis are coming from and wave one of them down. Use a seatbelt, they often drive like crazy ;P

Clothing and what to wear

One thing is for sure: No matter how crazy or over the top your outfit is, someone is going to be sporting something even weirder ;D In general, Germans are very relaxed about nudity, there are people wearing only a thong and you are bound to see some boobies with pasties. This also means that you can dress very freely, no one will mind. There are usually photographers around town and the festival locations taking pictures of outfits they like. They usually ask for permission ("to make a picture" is a perfectly valid way to ask in Germany ;P) and many professional ones give out business cards so you can check out your picture in their online gallery later. I have a theory that the locals compare who has the craziest goth pictures after the festival, since all the middle aged gentlemen and kind old ladies like to snap pictures of goths.

My tactic is to bring sensible but nice looking shoes for walking around the city in day time, and less sensible shoes for evening events. Many venues don't have too many seats, so prepare to stand a lot. Note! DM sells cheap and good silicone insoles that make tired feet happy.

I don't bring much clothing, only the necessities, because I know I'm going to shop for some new gorgeous items any way and I want to wear them instantly.

Taking photos

Large cameras are not allowed on venues if you don't have a photo permit. I'm not sure how large the camera can be, but they mainly want to avoid having professional cameras. Small pocket cameras and phone cameras are fine. I carry my big camera with me in the day to take pics of the city, but leave it at the hotel in the evening.

In a nutshell

- Drink plenty (of water too)
- Eat well
- Wear sunscreen while outside
- Take a taxi if you are in a hurry
- Plan ahead on what to see and when
- Have fun!

So welcome to the festival! It's the high point of my summer and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much!

7 comments:

  1. Nice guide for WGT newbies! Maybe this year I will meet you there...

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    1. Thanks! It would be lovely to meet you!

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  2. You're lucky! I live far from Leipzig, unfortunately, so i haven't seen what WGT looks like with my own eyes.. Hope you enjoy it anyway :)

    P.S: i could't follow your blog, i don't have any idea why

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    1. Thanks! I hope you get to go some day :) I'll have a look at the follower gadget, there might be something wrong with it. Thank you for notifying me!

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  3. I would love to go to this one day. It will also be a great excuse to go visit the boy's German family. Unfortunately plane tickets from the US cost an insane amount.

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  4. Someday I will also go to WGT. :)

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  5. I've wanted to go to WGT for so long but I don't have the money :( One day I will be there but I don't know how long it will take. :/

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