When I first heard of Wacken Winter Nights, it was because my friends in Grimner had been announced to play, and when I saw the rest of the lineup at the time, I knew that I just had to go. I told some of my folk metal loving friends about it and they also decided to come along, so now we have a nice big group coming along. I really am passionate about this festival, it looks like my perfect festival, and I hope my first experience will truly be magical.
Buy Wacken Winter Nights III ticket packages (non-affiliate link)
Wacken Winter Nights III Official Website
Full Wacken Winter Nights III Line-Up and Running Order
Wacken Winter Nights III Winter Camping Information
Travel From the UK with Argon Events (non-affiliate link)
Wacken Winter Nights III UK Travellers Group (not officially affiliated with WWN or Argon Events)
Wacken Winter Nights 2019 will take place in Wacken from 22nd to the 24th February, with a warm up party on the 21st for those on 3 day and Friday day tickets.
There are a few accommodation options including hotels in surrounding towns and cities, and on-site camping (important information on winter camping is linked above).
Wacken Winter Nights looks like far more than a music festival, it looks like a musical experience.
The Ice Palace and Theatre of Grace
The two main stages are the Ice Palace and Theatre of Grace. This is where you’ll find the bigger bands of the weekend playing, and where you’ll find some much needed warmth as the stages are heated!
Both stages have a bar, and the Theatre of Grace is where you’ll find all the merch for the bands playing across the weekend. Each stage is appropriately decorated for their themed names, and they fit both the style of the music and the natural surroundings. For lots more information about the stages, click on the links above to the official Wacken Winter Nights festival website.
Mystic Woods and Old Village
The Mystic Woods and Old Village are where you will find not only the acoustic acts performing across the weekend, but also the many other activities available to you over the weekend. Not only will you find food and drink stalls, you will also find craft stalls, LARP stalls, and you will even get the chance to have a go at axe throwing and crossbow shooting (something I have tried before and loved), among other things. There will be also street performers and all manner of entertainment to keep you interested. So if for any reason you need some time out from the stages, there will be plenty more to see and do! I would suggest taking a decent amount of money with you, I for one will have to try very hard not to spend all of my money!
My Musical Recommendations
Ostara Metal’s Wacken Winter Nights Spotify Playlist (non-affiliated)
Before I begin my recommendations, I need to provide you with a warning. By the end of the festival walking will no longer be an option. You will only be able to move through the mediums of dancing and jigging. The lineup this year is absolutely incredible, and I couldn’t pick just a few bands to recommend you check out. Instead, I have more than 20 bands to share with you. If there are any clashes between the Ice Palace and Theatre of Grace, I am going to have some very, very difficult decisions to make! And if there are no clashes, there is going to be an awful lot of running to do!
All the set times are subject to change, so please keep an eye on the website for updates.
Now, I couldn’t start this large set of musical recommendations without talking about my favourite bunch of Swedes, Grimner! I first heard about these guys a little over a year ago through my friend Connor of Northern Extremity Promotions, and then in February 2018 they released what would become my album of the year, Vanadrottning. The composition of the music is just wonderful, with flute melodies, and a mix of clean and harsh vocals. Grimner bring Viking tales to life in their native language. They are so much fun to watch live and to top it all off they are a lovely bunch of guys. They’ll be playing the Theatre of Grace on the Saturday evening.
Vogelfrey are a new band for me as I only discovered them after putting together my Wacken Winter Nights III playlist (linked above). There is a good mix of more traditional heavy metal, as well as the themes of German medieval music I’m hearing in a lot of the German bands playing this festival such as Saltatio Mortis and Feuerschwanz (listed below). They have a heavy string element to the music, as well as heavier drums and musical elements that remind me a little of Ensiferum. Vogelfrey will be playing the Ice Palace on the Sunday.
Bringing their epic performance of amplified history to Wacken Winter Nights, this is a very welcome addition to the lineup for me. After seeing them play at the Islington Assembly Hall back in November, I knew that a Heilung performance in a forest in a cold and snowy Germany would be the perfect combination. Using traditional poems and tales with tribal beats, a Heilung performance is a ritual, and one you should definitely take part in. Heilung are performing at the Ice Palace on the Friday.
These red-and-black faced battle metallers from Finland are fantastic live. I finally saw them live in 2018 and I should have made the effort a lot sooner. As soon as they hit the stage the energy is electric and their performance is tight. Their catchy and punchy battle metal tracks are going to get the Ice Palace moving on the Friday. I am very much looking forward to losing my voice that night after singing and shouting along.
Bannkreis are another band I discovered while creating my Wacken Winter Nights playlist to explore the bands who are playing this year. They have a more stripped down take on the German folk metal sound, with both male and female vocals. There is a more epic sound to their music, and they definitely have a “lighters in the air” vibe. If you’re not a completely terrible ignorant English person like myself, a lot of these tracks are ones you can definitely sing along to. Bannkreis will be playing the Theatre of Grace on Friday.
TrollfesT are self-proclaimed True Norwegian Balkan Metal, and I can hear this through and through on the tracks I’ve managed to take a listen to. There is a lot of Eastern European influence in the melodies, and as you can tell from the video below, they don’t take themselves too seriously. TrollfesT are a band that you will be having a lot of fun with, and once again you’ll be dancing around for their set in the Ice Palace on the Friday.
The Dread Crew of Oddwood
An acoustic pirate-themed folk act, The Dread Crew of Oddwood fit right in at Wacken Winter Nights. With guitars and other traditional acoustic instruments, The Dread Crew of Oddwood will be a great addition to the Theatre of Grace on the Friday, with multiple performances across the weekend in the Mystic Woods and the Old Village. There will be plenty of chance for a singalong and a dance each time these guys perform, and of course a pint of beer or glass of mead would not be inappropriate for such pirate activities!
Perhaps the happiest Viking metal I’ve ever heard, Forgotten North are bringing catchy, folky Viking tracks to Wacken Winter Nights. There are a lot of folk themes in the music, and again you can hear the German style in their music. They will release an album in 2019 which I very much look forward to listening to and reviewing. Forgotten North will open up the Wacken Winter Nights experience on the Thursday night at the first warm-up party for Wacken Winter Nights.
Hailing from Russia, Arkona are bringing their unique pagan sound to the Ice Palace on the Friday. With a mix of dark, chaotic metal and more folk driven tracks, Masha’s unique harsh vocal style and clean singing really ring the band together. I was only able to see Arkona for a short amount of time the last (and first) opportunity I had to see them, so I am really looking forward to being able to enjoy a full set by them.
Ereb Altor are another bunch of Swedes who bring a much darker theme to Wacken Winter Nights. In a dark German forest, they will definitely be creating an ominous atmosphere. They have a mix of harsh and clean vocals in their music, and some epic atmospheric elements as well. Their music has definitely black and death metal influences, and is one of the few bands you probably will be pitting to rather than dancing to. Ereb Altor will play the Theatre of Grace on the Saturday.
MacCabe & Kanaka
MacCabe & Kanaka perform traditional folk tunes and covers. There is absolutely no metal involved in this act, so it may not fit in the strictest of sense with my mantra of “folk, power and pagan metal”, but I do enjoy traditional folk music as well as it brings me closer to the history of Europe through the medium of music. There’s not much else to say except that seeing MacCabe & Kanaka play these tunes in the Old Village and Mystic Woods over the woods, drinking a warming drink, and singing along to some folk tunes will be a great chilled out time to connect with people from around the world.
Faun only bring the German medieval element to their music, combining traditional instruments, choral vocals and drums. They have a mix of more chilled out tracks to just stand and appreciate, tracks to bop along to, and a couple of tracks to have a bit more of a dance to. The music takes you back in time to a medieval castle and grounds, and will be one of the bands who close the festival on Sunday afternoon. The forest surroundings will definitely be a fitting environment for my first Faun show.
I have been a fan of Moonsorrow for several years now and was lucky enough to see them play Jorvik Viking Festival a few years ago. They blend black metal themes with pagan and folk and what appears is something quite spectacular. They sing in their native Finnish and use Finnish mythology and folklore to create their vocals. I know several people going to Wacken Winter Nights who are very much looking forward to getting another opportunity to see Moonsorrow live, it will be a wonderful Saturday in the Ice Palace.
I have been a fan of Korpiklaani for many, many years now. Of course, everyone loves a good folk metal drinking song, and Korpiklaani have plenty of those, but their tracks based in more traditional Finnish music and folklore are definitely tracks I love to hear and listen to on a regular basis. I reviewed their latest album Kulkija back in September and I loved it. I’m hoping to hear a good mix of the drinking songs and more traditional folky tunes in the Ice Palace on Friday.
I reviewed the latest Salatio Mortis album Brot und Spiele a while ago here, and I have been listening to Saltatio Mortis on and off for a few years now, having first heard the track Hochzeitstanz. Saltatio Mortis combine traditional metal guitars and drums with medieval pipes and other instruments to create their sound. Another band with the “German medieval” sound, they still maintain a sound that is uniquely theirs. Saltatio Mortis will be playing the Ice Palace on the Saturday.
The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats
The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats are another band which don’t really have any “metal” in their music, but it is pretty much Irish folk music. There are lots of fiddles, guitars, banjo and choral vocals. They will be great with a couple of drinks in the Mystic Woods and Old Village over the weekend, ready for a jig and singalong. I can imagine lots of strangers getting together and dancing for these guys, it could be a wonderful experience.
There is definitely a theme with lots of German medieval metal bands (which is by no means a bad thing at all as it’s opened me to a new subgenre that I’m really enjoying). Haggefugg have a heavy use of bagpipes, and at times the music is heavy enough to want to headbang to as well as dance around. Personally I love jigging and dancing around, but I do also love a good headbang at times. I’m looking forward to having a jolly good time when Haggefugg hit the Theatre of Grace on the Saturday.
Huldre bring a more sombre folk metal to Wacken Winter Nights. I can hear a lot of similarities in the melodies and strings sounds with The Witcher 3 soundtrack, which for me is fantastic as The Witcher 3 is one of my favourite games! You can’t necessarily dance to this type of folk metal, but you can certainly bop and sway, which after all of the jigging you’re likely to be doing for the rest of the festival will be a welcome break, while still getting those folky vibes at the Theatre of Grace on the Sunday.
Eluveitie are another old favourite, but a band as of yet I have not been able to see. However, 2019 is the year this changes and I get to see them twice, the first of which is at the Ice Palace on the Saturday. Singing in a mix of languages including English and Gaulish, Eluveitie also combine fiddles, flutes and a hurdy gurdy to complete their unique and distinct folk metal sound.
Skiltron are another band that I have listened to for a long time but only recently seen live for the first time. I am looking forward to seeing them again on the Friday in the Theatre of Grace. Their celtic themed metal complete with bagpipes can take you on an epic journey through battles and clans. They have such energy on stage and if you’re not jumping and dancing around I think there might be something wrong with you.
I was recommended Feuerschwanz on my Spotify Discover Weekly a good while again. I’m only really familiar with the Methämmer album, but it is a jolly happy album which certainly gets me dancing around. They have what I think is a sound in German medieval style metal repeated in a lot of metal bands. So you can hear similar styles and sounds, but each band still has their unique sound. Feuerschwanz are a happy folky band that I will be jigging and dancing to at the Ice Palace on the Sunday.
Trollfaust are a more traditional folk band but with a darker edge. With multiple bagpipes, traditionally built drums, and bells on their boots, Trollfaust bring the acoustic element to the folk. I have only heard a little of what they perform on YouTube, but I like what I hear so far. It will be great to hear their music outside in the German winter with multiple performances across the weekend in the Mystic Woods, and also in the Theatre of Grace on the Saturday.
I would encourage you to take a look at the rest of the lineup as well, as not every band has been included here. The Wacken Winter Nights website has a lot of information about the festival and the bands, so there is a lot to take it. I hope to see some of you there!