Last weekend I attended my very first Graspop Metal Meeting and I thought I’d write up a quick review of the festival.
It was definitely the most organised festival that I have attended, and I was quite impressed at how easy everything was to navigate. In the lead up to the festival, GMM offered a special deal of €10 return train fares from anywhere in Belgium to Mol which was the closest train station to the festival.
The trains were hassle free departing Brussels and changing at Lier for the 2nd train to Mol. Festival announcements were made on the trains to make sure attendees knew where to change and get off.
Once we arrived at Mol, we followed the signs to the festival bus stop just outside the train station and waited around 10 minutes for the festival buses to arrive and take us to the festival site.
It was a 15 minute walk with heavy backpacks and camping gear to the entrance where we lined up to exchange our tickets for wristbands and enter the campsite. This was definitely the longest line of the festival, but still organised and not too chaotic.
As it had been raining in the lead up to the festival, certain areas of the campsite were already flooded and it started to pour as we put up our tent. The festival made every attempt to manage this by filling the mud puddles with bark and laying down platforms to walk on.
The main campsite was a short walk to the festival entrance where the lines were quick, even with extra security measures in place. Attendees had to walk through the metal detectors and were patted down by security before scanning their microchip wristband to enter the site.
While the food and drink was a little more expensive than other festivals I have attended, the token system was easy to use. You could line up to pay by cash or card and receive your tokens from an ATM like machine.
Lines were never too long for food or drinks, there were areas of the festival with free wifi and phone charging stations. There was wrestling, dodgem cars, a ferris wheel and even an indoor rock cafe where you could chill out between sets. Free earplugs were also provided to anyone who needed them.
The toilets were clean, flushable and always had toilet paper in them, both in the festival area and campsite. There was a stand where could buy camping equipment, gum boots and other essential items needed.
There were info desks, a lost and found and information available on the big screens in Dutch, French and English about shuttle buses and other important festival information.
There was a good mix of indoor and outdoor stages and all of the artists kept to the scheduled time slots.
Attendees could purchase GMM merchandise in both the festival area and in the campsite. Festival shirts were available in different designs, colours and even various choices for ladies shirts. You could also buy a variety of festival merchandise including towels, bags, cycling gear, headwear, sleeping bags, keychains and more.
Official band merchandise was available only in the festival area at reasonable prices. The headline bands had merchandise for sale for the duration of the festival, rather than only on the day they play. I was quite surprised to see that some bands didn’t have any merchandise for sale at all.
My only suggestion for the festival is to use a cup system like Wacken, Hellfest or Brutal Assault, where attendees have to pay for the cups they use to encourage festival goers to return them and not throw them on the ground. There were thousands of plastic cups and bottles littered throughout the festival site, squashed into the mud.
While the festival did have an incentive for attendees to collect 20 cups to have a go at the Ducks of Thrash (see below) where you would win merchandise or tokens for the rides, the site was still trashed with plastic.
We had a little more trouble leaving the festival than arriving as buses were going to multiple destinations and the stops weren’t marked clearly. We hopped on the wrong bus at first which just took us in a circle, even though the sign said it was headed for Mol. We got off where we started and tried again. The second bus did actually go to the station.
Weather aside, it was certainly one of the best run festivals I have attended. I’d give it an 8.5/10.
My top 10 items for camping at a European festival
- Earplugs (we had some very noisy neighbours)
- Sunscreen / sunnies / a hat
- Poncho / rain jacket / Gum boots / garbage bags
- Water for the campsite
- Duct tape
- Snacks for breakfast (too expensive to eat at festivals for all meals)
- A torch
- Toilet paper / wet wipes / hand sanitizer
- Summer and winter clothing (you never know in Europe)
- A slightly larger tent than you need especially if you have excess luggage with you.