Those of us who went to Wacken Open Air this year will remember the torrential conditions that graced the ‘Holy Wacken Land’. Wacken has always been a bit of a hot spot for unpredictable weather, hence the tagline that punters coined “Rain or Shine”, and the festival goes off without a hitch. The argument could be that the spirit of metal makes the conditions bearable to a degree, and all the struggle is worth it.
I did not attend this year, but last year’s festival was also pretty sopping as far as it goes. It was on par with Download Festival 2012 conditions but thankfully Wacken had a much more structured plan of action to tackle the mud and rain. It wasn’t perfect but it was thankfully infinitely more bearable once water had been drained and punters were able to walk semi-securely between sites, thanks to a plethora of woodchip, straw or planks.
Obviously weather cannot be predicted and anticipated to be exactly as forecast. However, those who went to Wacken the previous two years can attest that the conditions have been significantly more intense than prior years. This year, organiser Holger Hübner has invested in more comprehensive construction measures as he proclaims; “Over the last few years, we have reached the limits of what we can expect from our ‘Holy Wacken Land’ and the visitors.”
The first construction plan of action is to conduct more thorough excavations. For those of you who don’t know, all the accumulated water that soaks into the grounds gathers into water ‘sinks’. The sinks themselves have a depth that, for most of the accumulated liquid (I am unsure of the exact measurements), rarely risks overflowing. Those sinks, we understand, have been removed and replaced to account for much greater depths of rainfall.
The drainage has also significantly expanded and improved structurally. In simple terms, a ‘canal’ that acts as a buffer storage spot for rain water has been built close to the ground in order to soak up surface water much quicker and easier than in previous years. There is a larger water storage in support of this in case this ‘canal’ fills up, so the surface water should prove much less of an issue.
I’m no plant expert, but also the plantation of clover and mustard seed alongside field grass acts as a more natural drainer for rain water. It’s supposedly engrained into the aerated soil and compaction, which acts quicker than normal grass to alleviate surface water. More importantly though, other areas of the infield site have been laden with gravel to secure the grounds and the channels of supply.
In short terms, Wacken 2017 looks to be a much more environmentally and aesthetically pleasing experience, so that should the rain be on the severe side, a much stronger action plan is in place.