We all know about the hallowed European festivals, and the epic line-ups they come out with. In particular, Wacken Open Air seems to be on just about every self-respecting Metalhead’s bucket list. Likewise, Download Festival has a massive profile, not least because it will be making its first appearance Down Under in Melbourne next year. And of course, Sonisphere was propelled into the worldwide consciousness with the cinematic release of the inaugural Big Four event featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.
But there’s more to the European festival world than these names. If Hellfest hasn’t come across your radar yet, then it should. With the highest turnover of any European festival (over 55,000 tickets per day in 2017), here’s why you should be there:

The Line-Up

It may be a no-brainer, but this one really is worth mentioning. Quality headliners have both classic and modern Metal covered, with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Avenged Sevenfold. But a deeper dive into the bands present shows an eclectic line-up to please a variety of tastes within Metal. Prog fans will be pleased to see Steven Wilson and Sons of Apollo (the new band from Dream Theater alumni Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian), while those with Blacker tastes will be able to indulge in some Dimmu Borgir or Satyricon. And if your inclinations are to catch the old stalwarts of rock, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts and Europe have you covered. But there are far too many bands to mention here on the line-up, and that’s because…

It’s A Three-Day Festival

2013 has generally been regarded as the strongest Soundwave line-up (with Metallica headlining), but 2015 saw the festival expanded to two days. While this may have proved to be an unfortunate decision financially speaking, it did add to the experience for punters for whom one day simply wasn’t enough. More time means more bands, but also a chance to get to know fellow headbangers better, get a drink, and enjoy the camaraderie of the festival camping “lifestyle.”

It’s Been Attacked By Conservatives As A Satanic Festival

Don’t like conservative politicians interfering in your business? Sick of having your lifestyle judged on religious grounds? Then give the finger to the Mouvement pour la France (Movement for France), the French conservative party who attacked Hellfest in 2010. In the same year the Associations Familiales Catholiques unsuccessfully attempted to sue the festival.

It’s Held In Clisson, France

Hellfest takes place outside the beautiful commune of Clisson, filled with 13th century ruins. Roughly half an hour away is the city of Nantes, which happens to be the green capital of France. It’s well served by local fishing ports, so be sure to check out the excellent seafood offerings; and if you’re a wine aficionado, Nantes is the largest producer of dry white wines in France, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accompanying your meal.

You’ll Never Get The Chance To See…

The line-up does bear mentioning twice, but this is for a different reason. It’s a sad fact of living in Australia that there are some bands we will just never get to see, and some of those are on the Hellfest line-up. If seeing Therion is something you need to do in your life, get thee to Europe – get to Hellfest. Probably don’t hold your breath for Akercocke to be here any time soon, either. Not to mention the wealth of bands you’ve probably never heard of – you’ll be guaranteed to come home with a whole bunch of obscure European names with which to impress your mates. Funnily enough, Electric Mary are also on the bill, so you can at least see some familiar faces!

OVERDRIVE readers, have you been to Hellfest? What’s your Hellfest story? Any tips for future visitors? Tell us in the comments!