I had attended Hellfest before in 2011 so was looking forward to seeing the extra stages and the new site layout.
There had been quite a few noticeable changes, some for me were better and some worse. However, that is always the way when festivals change things.
Line up –Definitely something there for everyone regardless of musical tastes. Choice of bands and the numerous amount of stages all set close enough together but far enough away to stop major noise bleed over helped to keep folk amused and rocking out.
Sound – was superb at all the stages apart from the ZZ Top set as it wasn’t as good as the other bands on the main stages. It’s not too loud, you can walk around without earplugs even in the tented stages, however I will recommend that you use suitable ear protection especially if you are there with children.
View and lighting – Both main stages mostly offer a clear view due to the natural rise in the ground. Even the tented stages were all well lit and bands easy to see.
Atmosphere* – fantastic, laid-back party atmosphere, families are there as well as groups of teens and the more adult metal heads. *Apart from Saturday night see below notes under Criticisms!
Stewards/Security/Staff – all well informed, courteous and helpful
Cleanliness – the site was always clean. Euro fests seem to be so much more litter free than their UK counterparts. Plenty of metal rubbish bins around and folk actually used them as well as the dedicated cleanup crews that were always going around.
I even saw one guy who had one too many drinks walk into/knock over one of the large metal bins. Once he got helped up by his pals, he picked up the bin and majority of rubbish from the ground and put it back into the bin before apologising to the bin then walk away!
Value for Money – good prices for a festival. The low exchange rate from GBP to Euros made it more expensive than previous years.
Food – averaged around €6 for a burger/meal but you got a lot of food for your money and all the stuff I tried was good! Crepes where priced from €1 with sugar, €2 with chocolate spread and upwards depending on filling so there was affordable food there.
Drink wise you swapped your Euros into drink tokens and you bought a re-usable plastic cup or jug, both costing just €1 each at the bar. Your basic beer, Magners, soft drinks cost €2.50 for the cup and €12 to fill the jug with beer. There was also a wine bar and a bar that specialised in different beers that cost slightly more.
Hot drinks such as a large coffee were bought with your drink tokens as well and cost €1.50 for small and €2.50 for large cup. These were served in disposable cups, not your Hellfest glass!
Lack of toilets including urinals. As always people tend to answer the call of nature at the fences and other places instead of going to the proper ones. This year the amount of facilities to the amount of people saw extra long queues and even as soon as the Friday early evening even the females where relieving themselves along with the guys at the fences, entrance to the photopit, woods and even in the crowd to save the long wait and trek to the proper loos! The smell in certain areas near the stages when it was sunny and hot was disgusting.
Food area/benches and choice – I prefer the old food area layout at Hellfest as there seemed to be more choice especially for people who want a vegetarian/vegan/gluten free option. There were definitely more benches for people to use in the old system. As there is nowhere else to sit the benches are rammed with people not eating, just relaxing. We definitely need more for next year.
Saturday crowd – Hellfest normally has a nice flow to it, so getting from stage to stage/food/toilets is normally quick and easy. It’s one of the things I love most about the fest. However, Saturday from about 4pm onwards the place was rammed and I mean rammed, leaving people pushing and shoving their way through the crowd so they could get to their destination and the food area was too busy to navigate and queues way too long at the stands/bars. Tempers started to fray due to this as more and more folk got bumped into/pushed/drinks knocked out of their hands so it had a negative impact on the atmosphere.
I fought my way onto VIP/Press area during the start of ZZ Top and stayed in there for the rest of the night instead of going out to watch KISS as it wasn’t worth the effort.
All in all we had a superb time and I am planning on going to Hellfest next year again, depending on the lineup. Hellfest is currently still my favourite European festival :)
I would recommend this festival for all types of festival goer’s.