If you’re in Wacken, Germany and looking for a music festival with calming music in the midst of a quiet and serene background, make friends with well-dressed people wearing nicely-ironed clothes and polished shoes, drink some expensive wine and stay in fancy hotel rooms, well—make sure you don’t go to Wacken in August 4 to 6, 2011.

It’s because it’s time once again for the Wacken Open Air Festival, one of the biggest metal festivals not just in Germany or in all of Europe, but in the world. The performances this year will be so loud, you won’t be able to hear yourself speak or think. One thing’s for sure, though: if you have passion, love, and devotion to everything metal, the bands’ performances will surely be sweet music to your ears.

The Wacken festival is an open-air summer celebration of everything metal. This used to be a small festival featuring local German bands, but because of the success in its first few years, it has grown to be one of the most important metal gatherings in the country. Today, it is a paradise of death metal, thrash metal, black metal, gothic metal, metalcore, power metal, and folk metal, and other different metal subgenres that will surely make one hell of an event.

Last year, during Wacken 2010, an estimate of 82,500 people attended, so expect the festival to have this number (or possibly more) this year. Some of the bands that have performed in the previous years are Opeth, Iron Maiden, Cannibal Corpse, Arch Enemy, Ill Nino, Caliban, Motorhead, Soulfly, Anthrax, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Death Angel, Children of Bodom, Slayer, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, and Wizzard.

This may seem very strange to happen in quiet village of a state that considers agriculture as one of its most important means of livelihood, but it’s actually that strangeness that makes things all the more exciting.

Being in Schleswig-Holstein is a treat, if you find yourself looking for something to do when the festival is over. It will surely be not as loud, but it will most definitely be amazing, entertaining, and relaxing. Visit the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest national park in Germany. You can also head over to Dithmarschen to relax in holiday apartments and visit the North Sea, the Wadden Sea National Park, and the amazing beaches at Busum.

This year, the Wacken 2011 stages will be ripped to shreds with the loudest sounds of As I Lay Dying, Bülent Ceylan, Children of Bodom, Ensiferum, Ghost, Golem, Jim Breuer, Judas Priest, Moonsorrow, Morgoth, Mortal Strike, Onslaught, Ozzy Osbourne, Primal Fear, Sepultura, Subway to Sally, Suicidal Tendencies, The Haunted, Trivium, Voltax, and so much more. There will be more than 120 bands, and apart from seeing them perform, you will also be able to do a Meet and Greet session with them (which happens on all the days of the festival).

Different kinds of preparation for this festival may involve activities such as choosing the shirt, getting the chains ready, gathering the accessories, buying face paint, buying cases of beer, and practicing how to headbang with grace, etc—but one of the best (and perhaps more relaxing) way of preparing for the shows is by watching the Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, a 2205 documentary made by Sam Dunn, Scot McFayden, and Sam Feldman. This film is about none other than the much-loved genres and subgenres of metal and the culture surrounding it. Some of the big names who were interviewed were Alice Cooper, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, Randy Blythe and Mark Morton of Lamb of God, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Joey Jordison and Corey Taylor of Slipknot, and Rob Zombie.

You must also watch Full Metal Village, a documentary directed and written by Sung-Hyung Cho, which will give you a background of the village of Wacken—how around 2,000 residents deal with 70,000 head-banging men, women, and kids. There are a lot of funny bits here, one involves running cows, a man talking about cows’ udders, and two old ladies claiming that “this metallic music…” is not really their thing. If it’s your first time to attend this festival, this is definitely one of the best forms of preparation that you can do.

Wacken Open Air is definitely one of the best metal festivals today, and if you’re up for some serious head-banging, devil horn-raising, and crowd-surfing, this will surely make you have one hell of a good time.

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