Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Ultimate Wave Gotik Treffen Guide


Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) is the biggest goth festival in the world with over 20 000 visitors every year. It takes place in Leipzig, Germany around the middle of may or beginning of june. The whole city participates in it. There are over 200 bands in many venues scattered all over the city, lots of different cultural events, and stores even put up a goth display in their windows! In this guide I will write about everything there is to know about the festival, with some help from others. This festival is probably the greatest joy in my life, at least the highlight of the year, since I live in Bergen, Norway where there is no goth scene. This year's festival is a few months away, so I will contain my excitement by writing this up for you!

At Christopher's: ''WGT - We Go Drinking!''

PLANNING
Some people book their hotel rooms for the next year as they leave the festival. Unless you are 100% sure you will be going, I don't really recommend this (unless the hotel doesn't require a deposit upfront or has a good cancellation policy).
I do recommend booking as soon as you are able though. For the last years I have been staying with friends, so I've booked a few months in advance. For 2017 I will be staying in a hostel for the first time (and bring four WGT virgins), so I started to look at things already around autumn, I think. Remember to use incognito window when you look at prices, so the prices don't go up! For me the thing I was waiting for was the bus from Berlin to Leipzig. When those tickets were available, I booked flight and hostel. Those things depend on each other a lot, so I recommend ''synchronizing'' them before you book.

Keep an eye out on the WGT website (you can sign up for email alerts) and facebook page for announcements of bands, events and ticket sales. There are also some social facebook groups you can join! I'm a member of Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) and Sadgoth.com - It's a great way to share excitement and meet other people!

Personally, I find planning to be almost half the fun (especially when the festival is months away). My friends are grateful that I'm the one who takes responsibility for booking and planning.
One personal tip I have for planning your schedule (and coordinating an outfit to match) is that when most of the program is out (the finished program is released VERY shortly prior to the festival), go to the artist page on the WGT website, open a word document and write down the dates of the festival. Fill it in with bands you want to see, time and location (if you're new, they also provide how to get there with public transport). See what you can make, and prioritize the bands most important to you. Then fill in with all other events you want to go to (some of the cultural ones last for longer periods or repeat for a couple of days).
Then the fun part: Plan outfits! I usually do this a while before the schedule, but pick the days I'll wear them when I finish my schedule. I like to look my best, and preferably to match the events I go to that day. That might be just me, but that's just a tip!

The best store display we found in 2016; a gothic wedding night dream!

TRAVEL
I'll repeat what I said earlier: Remember to use incognito window when you look at prices, so the prices don't go up! Very important thing people don't know. Companies are sneaky that way.

Now how you get there will of course depend on where you're from. What I do recommend for everyone, is getting to Berlin (usually by plane, some in Europe drive), and taking the bus to Leipzig from there. That's a tip I got from my friends from Leipzig that brought me to WGT for the first time (thank you Roland and Hanna, you changed my life!). My airline of choice is usually Norwegian. Leipzig does have their own airport, and at least for me it's much more expensive to fly direct, but see how much it costs for you. If it is cheap, do it! It'll be much easier.

Flixbus / Meinfernbus is a super cheap bus company that will take you from Berlin to Leipzig comfortably in just under 2 hours. It leaves from either Südkreuz train station or Berlin central bus station. The first one is the easiest to get to from Schönefeld airport (about 30 minutes by train), while the other takes about an hour and is a little annoying to get to. Sadly there was no bus from Südkreuz this time, so the annoying route it is this year. If you land at Tegel airport though, I believe the Berlin central bus station is only about 20 minutes away.

Most people take the train from Berlin to Leipzig. I have never done that, I don't really see the benefit. It's usually more expensive, and I don't think the comfort is any better than the bus. Both methods will take you to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station and mall) in the very center of Leipzig. The train is a little faster, and best for groups and if you have more than 1 suitcase and 1 carry-on. The tickets are released 3 months in advance.

A tip I can mention for flying is that always check the low price / economy calendar (you can usually check a box when you search). You never know if it turns out to be cheaper if you stay a little longer! It usually is for me, as certain days of the week can make the ticket price double up many times.

Entrance to Agra, the main festival area

WHERE TO STAY
Hotel - They can usually be booked 1 year in advance, so you might get a good deal. Like I mentioned earlier, be sure that you can make it, or make sure that they don't need a deposit or have a good cancellation policy. If you have budget for it, this is good for a couple of people.

Hostel - There are several cheap hostels in the city center, as well as a little outside. You can book a bed in a room with several others, or you can do like we are this year and rent an entire room if you are a group. This way you can leave the room a mess, and coming in in the middle of the night might not be a problem. Though most likely the other people in the hostel are also there for the festival.

Apartment / Room / Couchsurfing - Many locals rent out for the festival. Check out Couchsurfing and AirBNB for listings. There are probably some forums and groups on facebook, but be prepared that it might be in german. If you know some locals, even better! I've stayed with friends up until now, and it's been great not to spend money on accommodation, especially since I tend to stay a few extra days before and after the festival.

Camping - WGT has official camping, right between Agra and Heidnisches Dorf (the main festival area and pagan village). You need to buy a special ticket for this, called Obsorgeticket. You get this special wristband only at Agra, but luckily the queues are pretty short there.
  • Bring a camping chair, a table and a mirror. It makes everything easier; breakfast, chilling and styling.
  • Bring a pavilion and a kiddie pool. The pavilion will provide shade and protection from rain. The tents tend to get really hot, so you want to spend as little time in it as possible. The pool will keep your drinks and feet cool and hey - it's a pool!
  • Put your ticket in a safe place while searching for the best place for your tent. A see-through case around your neck is a good idea.
  • Talk to your neighbors! You'll have great conversations and make friends. They will help you out if anything goes missing or anything like that, and do the same with them.
  • Bring hearing protection. The camp site can get noisy at night and the Bunker (the night club at Agra) isn't far away.
  • Bring good tent pegs and a hammer. The ground at Agra is quite tricky. Don't use the pegs that come with your tent.
There are three camp sites at Agra and one for caravans. The biggest is the loudest, since that's where most of the action takes place. You can walk across this from Agra to Heidnisches Dorf. There will always be parties, though you won't be able to get much sleep.
The site near the caravans is pretty quiet, and it isn't far from the Agra concert hall. Many want to camp there, but it isn't big, so try to get there early to secure your spot.
The last one is the quietest, but it's also the one that's furthest away. You'll get plenty of sleep here.
So choose wisely!

On hoop skirts:
Put on the hoop skirt AFTER you get out of your tent.
Make your friends hold your hoop skirts, heavy clothing and accessories when you use the toilet.
Bring a rope so you can tie your hoop skirt to the inside of your tent. This way you won't tumble over it and it will stay dry.

Thank you to CoraCorbeau for the camping tips!
Remember to check the weather forecast and be prepared. Happy camping!

Professionals at the victorian picnic!

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE
So, aside from getting to your place of accommodation and leaving your luggage there, what do you do when you arrive in this beautiful city? If you have some time to spare, here are some ideas.
  • Go grocery shopping for quick snacks / foods, alcohol and other essentials (like hairspray).
  • Sit at a restaurant and play ''spot the goth'' - Me and Christopher do this every year! The day before the festival is when you really notice all the black-clad people. It's really fun! Makes me happy.
  • Sadgoth usually has a meeting the day before the festival starts, aimed for english-speaking people.
  • Warm-up parties! My favorite one is Moritzbastei, but other venues and clubs have them too.
  • And remember, don't be afraid to ask other people in black for help! Everyone is really friendly, and most people speak english. If you REALLY don't want to, just follow the stream of black, hahah.


They have a special tram that goes to the Agra!

FOOD & DRINK
Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, try to grocery shop for your entire stay before sunday. I believe it's closed on sunday, and that monday is a holiday. It's the cheapest option.
For me who's norwegian everything in Germany is cheap, but a lot of people consider the food and drink at venues very expensive. So if you want to avoid this, buy food at the grocery store.
They also have this ''pfant'' thing where you pay one euro extra for your drink (and often get a chip), and when you return it you get it back. Probably so people won't litter, but it's something to keep in mind.
For food during the night, Moritzbastei serves food, and there are some fast food joints open at the Hauptbahnhof (the train station). I usually go for mcdonalds or subway, and a lot of people hang out inside there while waiting for the first trams in the morning to start running.
My biggest recommendation is Absintherie Sixtina, who have over 250 types of absinthe, and breakfast included in the morning! They are open 24/7 during the festival.
The alcohol age limit in Germany is 16 for beer and such, and 18 for liquor. So if you're over these ages but underage where you live, this is a great opportunity!

Absinthe breakfast at Sixtina

MUSIC
There are over 200 bands of different genres playing all over the city during the festival. Follow my tips in the PLANNING section (the last paragraph) for how to easily make a schedule for your festival experience! You will never be able to see all the bands you want to, just keep that in mind. Even if you plan it out carefully, things will always happen, and something else happens instead. But that has never ruined my experience!
After the concerts are over for the night, you still want more music, right? Time to go clubbing! Every night the clubs have different themed parties, often with several dancefloors of different genres. I personally like dancing to EBM and those kind of genres, but some might like more traditional music, so pick your clubs / dancefloors based on that. Consult the program you get with your wristband to see what genres / dj's are playing what and where.
Clubs during the festival tend to have something called ''open end'', which means that they will stay open as long as there are people there. I've been kicked out of clubs with a few others at 11 AM!

Shitfaced back in 2014

SHOPPING
Usually, pretty things aren't easily available for us goths - We usually have to order online or make our own stuff. But during this festival, you will see more beautiful things you've never even dreamed of. Remember to carry cash (but not too much, for safety), as Germany doesn't always take card. Places / booths that sell expensive items probably do, but the smaller ones usually don't, as well as food and drink vendors.
  • Agra, the main festival area, has the biggest black market you will ever see. Try not to get TOO overwhelmed if you are new, but you will probably spend some hours wandering in there. By now I know where all the booths are and what they sell, so I can easily skip them / find what I'm looking for.
  • EMP is probably my favorite store. They used to be called XtraX, for those of you that have been around for a few years. They have a 3-floor store filled with goodies! They also usually have an outlet nearby where they sell TONS of things for really cheap.
  • Darxity is a fantastic store. There is so much I want in there! This year we'll be staying across the street from there, and I NEED to buy their patchouli perfume. You have to go there!
  • Wonderland13 is a store that I now think is permanent. They had a pop-up store in 2015 or 2016 and they had 2 floors, but now they have moved further down the same street, so it's smaller. They sell some really nice things!
  • Queen Of Darkness the store is now sadly closed, but they have the biggest booth in the Agra hall. Check them out for lots of great deals!

A booth in Heidnisches Dorf selling clothes for kids - and tiny me!

EVENTS
Since goth is a culture, there is not just music events and shopping going on. There's lots of cultural stuff to partake in as well! I'll try to list all of the options there are. Keep in mind that most of these will be in german, so if you don't understand it, you probably won't have a good time.

Victorian picnic - One of the most important events for many, and not just us who love period clothing. It takes place in the huge Clara-Zetkin park, and they also sell food and refreshments there, so you don't ACTUALLY have to picnic. I tend to just walk around, people-watch, talk to people, take photos and relax even though I'm boiling.

Obsession Bizarre - For those who are in the fetish scene as well, join us at this great party! I myself have been a walking act for a few years now, and I love it! I recommend wearing warm enough clothes, cause the line is really long. There's a wardrobe and you can change inside! There are some amazing performances and fashion shows, great dance floors (one for smokers), photo shoots and a private area for private activities for those who want to. One of the best things at the festival!

Cemetery - The big cemetery (Südfriedhof) is amazing just by itself, but they also have a couple of events there! In the past they've had bat tours, lecture-type stuff by historians...

Book readings - If you are a german speaker, these are probably very fun!

Opera - Maybe I should have put this in the music section, but I guess this is more of a cultural special interest. I've seen classical music / opera performances in the program, but never been.

Theater - You also have the opportunity to see some theater performances!

Cinema - They show movies relevant to gothic, but it's before noon and with limited seating.

Museum - Several of the Leipzig museums provide free entrance with a WGT wristband, usually throughout the entire duration of the festival. Check the program for specific museums, times and exhibitions. Other places might have exhibitions as well.

Musical - They actually also put up a couple of musicals!

Kids - They have a small kindergarden at the Agra! If you need a little time off from your babybats, you can leave your children over 3 years old for up to 3 hours.

Nail art - Also in Agra, you can get your nails done by professionals! Cool, right?

Pagan village - I guess I should mention Heidnisches Dorf! Right by Agra, you can visit the pagan village, where they have concerts, food & drink, shops and activities for those who want to travel back in time to the medieval period! There is also a small medieval market on top of Moritzbastei.

Band meet & greets - At Agra bands will usually have short meet and greets where you can get their autographs! I've never found the time to go myself, hahah.

Pogo party - A separate event from WGT, so you have to buy a ticket for it. You can buy entrace for the entire duration or one day for fairly cheap (about 30€ for the entire festival, one night might be 5€). If you like the old school stuff you'll enjoy it! I've never been myself, but I hear the parties are good. Though if you are attending WGT, checking it out for one day is probably the best. The gothic pogo is kind of like a mini WGT for those who can't afford WGT.

The Agra pond. I'm pretty sure that's Lady Amaranth to the right!

TRANSPORT
Public transportation is free with the wristband during the festival! Isn't that awesome?
Keep in mind that if you live away from the city center, look at the schedules to know when the last one leaves for the night, and plan accordingly if you don't want to party all night. Most of us do, so it's no problem, but you know yourself best! There's also taxis, for me they're cheap, and they are a life-saver if there are no more trams and your feet are dying.
The WGT website and program provides you with which trams / buses to take and when to get off, which is very useful if you're not familiar with the city or you're going to a venue you haven't been to before. And again: Follow the black-clad people!
Trams leave all the time by the way, so there's not really a need to run if you see one. Save your feet, there will be another tram within the next few minutes. Keep in mind a lot of them will be packed.

The big map of the trams in Leipzig!

CLOTHING
This festival takes place in early summer, so if you're european, you will be hot. Check the weather forecast before you go to pack accordingly. Everyone wants to wear their finest clothing, but prepare to deal with it (especially during the victorian picnic). I've heard some people put ice packs down their corsets and dampen their fishnets, so that might be an idea. A fan also works with any victorian outfit! Footspray is also a good idea, considering most of us will wear boots all day and night.
Bring extra outfits or mix them up to create new ones. You'll want to leave your huge victorian outfit at the hotel if you want to go to crowded and tiny clubs at night. Remember that there are warm-up parties the night before the first day of the festival, so consider that when you pack outfits.
Now I'm really stubborn (and usually have overweight luggage TO Leipzig), so I don't bring flat and light shoes. You should. Cause trust me, by day 2 your feet will be dying, and you'll look for every opportunity to sit down. This doesn't only happen to ''old'' people! So consider bringing extra shoes.

Example of a simple, but great outfit for hot days
(Ironically this was worn on the coldest WGT day ever)
(I'm a viking, ok)

One last thing I have to add! There's an app called WGT-Guide you can download (it used to cost some € cents, but now it's free), which lists the schedule, artists, venues and shopping, complete with directions for public transport, opening times and more! It has some social features as well. I'm gonna try it out during this year and see how helpful it is to me! So that might be an idea for on the go and you're wondering about how long shops are open for, if you spontaneously decide to see a band and need to know all that information, etc.

Thank you so much for reading my guide! Hope you learned some tips and infomation about the festival. Most people I talk to on Gothic Amino have either no idea what WGT is, or think of it as a far away dream. Now you know, and have tips on how to get there and what to do! If you see me at the festival, please say hi! I'm not hard to recognize, I'm 146 cm / 4'9'' without boots and I usually wear glasses. It's a goth meetup, so let's meet! I've been going alone for most years, and I'm sure most others do too, so don't be afraid to talk to other people. WGT is great, cause it has so many venues and stuff, so there won't be a big crowd in one place like other festivals. Good for us introverts. Personally I feel so at home that my whole introvert thing goes straight out the window! I'm just so happy.

I want to thank Cathrine Wendt AKA The Fairy Gothmother and CoraCorbeau for giving me their tips to make this guide! I've only been 4 times, and my perspective is probably different than others'. Can't wait to meet you all!

If you feel there's something missing or you've experienced something else, please add your input in the comments! The festival is different for everyone, so I want to know.

Have you been to WGT? Will you be going in the future?

10 comments:

  1. It's sounds like an amazing experiance I've been wanting to go for years but it's just never been the right time or money has been an issue. I have couple of friends who have been before it became huge and they loved every moment of it.

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  2. Shameless self-plug for the WGT planning:

    https://treffenplaner.mbober.de/

    We write short articles for every officially announced artist to help you plan the festival. And we also have an annually updated Android App.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi!
    I cannot thank you enough for this guide! I'm going to the WGT for the first time, alone, and I'm terrified out of my mind! It will be the first time I ever leave my native country and I speak almost no German. Can you tell me, or make a post regarding how to navigate the festival if you're going alone? I'm seriously terrified, any help would be life saver. Thank you so so so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I can be of help!
      There really is no difference when going alone, I have gone alone myself most years and have had the time of my life!

      Delete
    2. There is nothing to worry. Leipzig is a very safe city and goths fantastic people. In 5 years of coming only one time i encountered a minor quarrel. The only bad thing is that you must be prepared to see only 50-60% of the bands originally planned due to transport times and the vastness of event. Have a great time!

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    3. Thank you both ♥ So excited!

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  4. thank you for making this! this year will be my first time attending the festival all the way from Australia!

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  5. Love the hoop skirt tips - they made me chuckle!
    Also, I'm the same with outfits, I like them to match the theme of the day.
    As for trains from Berlin to Leipzig, you're right, they're a bit better for large groups, and definitely recommended if you suffer from motion sickness.
    As for shopping, I'm a bit spoiled, living in London, where it's easy to get your hands on gothy stuff, but I still love the Black Market. This year, my friends and I are planning a little game of Pimp My Goth. The rules are simple: wear your plainest clothes to the Agra shopping hall, set a budget and buy a complete outfit :D
    Also, a tip for anyone who isn't in Germany and is planning to buy a ticket ahead of time: if you're just buying one, you might as well get it when you get to the festival. It's a bit more expensive, but you're spared the hassle of transferring money and the cost of international transfer and shipping. Tickets never sell out, so you'll be fine.

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  6. Vil aller først seie tusen takk for eit flott innlegg om WGT! For ei som aldri har vore på WGT - men som endeleg skal få oppleve det i 2018 (!) - var dette inspirerande og informativ lesing :)

    Elles var det veldig kjekt å finne ein interessant goth-orientert blogg, som attpåtil er skriven av ein felles bergenser! Er altfor sjeldan ein møter på andre med slike interesser her i området, føler heile goth-miljøet i Bergen fordufta i perioden etter Dominion vart lagt ned (men no bur eg ikkje inne i byen, så kan vere at miljøet der berre gjekk lengre under bakken?). Gler meg ihvertfall til å lese meir på bloggen og følgje deg framover :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Det var hyggelig å høre! Vi må ta og møtes da, kan gjerne vise deg rundt!

      Ja, det er ikke noe som skjer i Bergen i forhold til goth, dessverre.. Heldigvis er jeg glad i svartmetall! Ministry spilte jo her nettopp, det var veldig overraskende. Det var en fantastisk konsert!

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