Spain, Croatia, Germany; it’s safe to say I enjoy combining my passion for music with my love of travel. Last July, I made my way to Grafenhainchen in Germany with 4 friends to head to the indie and electro music festival, Melt. With around 20,000 festival-goers in attendance, the size of the festival was just right. It wasn’t so big that you could feel lost amongst hordes of people or too small to feel claustrophobic. So what made it so great? I’ve listed the three key ingredients that put Melt in the top spot.
An awesome festival has to have a great venue…
Stroll up to the metal and machine jungle where cranes tower over you and silver becomes your new favourite colour. When the sun goes down the machines come alive with bright lights, video installations and pyrotechnics; the atmosphere is electric and music from all corners of the site intertwine into a pulsating beat. What venue is this? Incredibly, Melt is set in an open-air museum for dormant mining machinery, Ferropolis. Moreover, it was built on a peninsular surrounded by a clear water lake with sandy shores – the view is something else!
A short walk from the campsite to the festival area, where pop-up restaurants of different cuisines greet you and quirky areas such as carpeted tents selling shisha and beer gardens are dotted around – not bad for a dusty old mining museum. One of the best things (which I’m aware will mean more to girls than guys reading this) the toilets aren’t portaloos, but there is an actual toilet block with stalls and the more luxurious mobile toilets which are regularly cleaned and replenished with toilet paper! Now that was special…
Have I mentioned the stages?
There is a multitude of stages each with their own character and twist. The main stage has one of the best layouts I’ve seen; it’s in the shape of an amphitheatre which means if you want to hang back, you can enjoy a clear view of the stage and even enjoy it sitting down on the stairs encircling it. There are also four other prominent stages, covered and outdoor so come rain or shine you can take shelter. Be sure to head to the Selektor Stage for the sunset as it overlooks the unbelievably stunning lake backdrop, and combined with the melodic grooves it gives a truly ethereal experience.
Then there’s the Sleepless Floor, as daunting as it sounds. It’s an area outside the entrance where you will find hard-core ravers – those that don’t want to call it a night at 7am(!) and want to party all day & all night just as Sak Noel put it in his banger ‘Loca People’. I only partied on the Sleepless Floor on Sunday night when the festival main acts finished at a rather early 2am. It was epic, so many festival-goers enjoying the surround sound of the booming speakers in what I can only describe as a dance pit.
And the music?
There was a plethora of different kind of acts playing at Melt Festival, which was a big part of the reason why the festival stood out so much for me. It had a rich mix of pop, synth, electro and indie acts from headliner pop sensation Kylie, to the experimental bass and beats of Bonobo. My personal highlights were Alt-J, Jamie XX, La Roux, London Grammar, Years and Years, Shura, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Jamie XX.
Melt Festival is cash free, and I loved that aspect. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and the process was pretty efficient. I was given my wrist band which had a chip built in. Then I made my way to the booths where you top up your wristband with euros – no chance of losing your money! Simples. Another concept I liked was Melt’s environmentally friendly approach to reducing litter by charging a deposit for cans and plastic cups so once you finish your drink, rather than throwing it on the floor as so many people seem to do, you’re incentivised to return it to the bar and get about 1 euro back on your wristband. Believe me, that amount of money racks up given the amount of alcohol purchased.
There are three campsites, Camping South (the closest to the bus drop off), Camping North where Green Camping is also situated (closest to the stages and festival site) and Camping Plus for pre-pitched tents and ‘glamping’. There are food stalls lined along the outskirts of the camping grounds with pop-up stages. I arrived on Thursday and spent the evening in the campsite because the atmosphere was incredible. A lot of people drove to Melt which meant they were well stocked with gazebos, fairy lights and booming sound systems. The first night was all about wandering into the homemade party gazebos and enjoying a night on the campsite! During the rest of the weekend there were also yoga classes and DJs on the decks on the campsite stages to get the party going. And during the day, there was the lake. It gets pretty hot in Grafenhainchen in July but thankfully the lake borders on the campsite so you will find happy campers splashing about on lilos in its refreshing waters. Nothing beats a cold beer by the lake in good company, let me tell you!
The festival goers
In terms of spirit, comradery and friendships born, Melt certainly delivered. Surprisingly, given the travel-loving nature of Brits there weren’t too many British accents to be heard but a lot of Dutch, so there was definitely a European vibe! I was in a group of five and we happened to pitch up next to a group of friendly Dutch festival goers a long with two English girls. The thing I find about festivals abroad is how open-minded and willing to meet new people everyone is – certainly beats getting blanked on the tube in London. We made fast friends bonding over our love of music, alcohol and all of the above, forming a 10 man strong squad!
Travel: Transport in Germany is very good, I flew to Berlin airport and then caught one of their regular train services to Grafenhainchen which was approx. 1 hour 30 mins. From there the festival puts on a shuttle bus service to drop you off at the campsite.
Hidden Gem Tip ❤: If you’re in a group you will be able to get a discount off your train fare– make sure to ask at the counters rather than go straight to the self-service ticket machine.
Sleeper Train: For the ultimate festival experience there is a Sleeper train which departs from Cologne and takes you directly to Ferroplois. Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s a party train with DJs on the carriage and heavy sound systems – the most sleep you will be getting is 40 winks if you’re lucky!
Hope you liked my Melt account and if you’re festival inspired make sure to head over to my other festival posts. x