Melt Festival: An American’s First Music Festival Abroad

MELT FESTIVAL | LOCATION: Ferropolis ‘City of Iron’, Germany

After a travel day from hell consisting of three missed connecting flights sandwiched by a canceled flight and a wrong bus, I finally made it to Berlin. Besides an endless love affair for the city, I was here for one reason: to check attend a music festival abroad off the dusty bucketlist.

This wasn’t my first festival rodeo, music festivals and I go way back. To point I feel qualified to share my Ultimate Festival Survival Guide and Packing Checklist. On my desk sits a nice little mason jar stocked with retired festival wristbands from my jaunts across the U.S. attending festivals. But up until recently, my farthest festival trek was to Summer Camp, just south of Chicago. Granted it was a grueling 15 hour drive in a clunker of an old-school Pontiac from our home in Florida, it was still in the good ole U.S. of A.

Finally, my time had come to venture out into the festival lands of the unknown – Europe. Just two hours south of Berlin, Melt Festival marked the spot. How Melt of all festivals was chosen for this though, I wish I could say. Amongst a conversation with my friend, who’d hopped the pond to get her masters abroad, on which European festival we (along with her newly acquired band of Irish lads, plus one Canadian) should tackle, Melt was thrown into the mix.

The lineup was solid, the venue looked dope, and it was close to my favorite city in Europe (cough, Berlin, cough). So it was settled, to Melt we would go. I booked a ticket and off I went to the land of currywurst and techno. And it was magical.

Except one slight problem lingered ahead – I was underprepared. Actually, underprepared is a vast understatement. Who would have thought festivals abroad are in fact, nothing like festivals at home? Clearly, not me. Although it didn’t hinder the overall experience, I was naive in my preparations. Such as opting to pack three outfits a day when in reality, I wore the same five articles of clothing over the course of the entire three-day festival.

Glass Animal’s pineapple, for real

To prevent any of our lovely readers from making the same misguided choices, let’s briefly go over my rookie mistakes:

MISTAKE #1: I’m the dumbass who brought a heavy suitcase on wheels to a festival made of nothing but grass and dirt. I think you can figure out the problems that thus incurred.

MISTAKE #2: Since it was a camping festival, we thought we could rent all of our gear there. HA, wrong. Relying on a festival vendor’s English version website, our plan was to rent everything we’d need (tents, awnings, chairs) onsite. Turns out their translation of “book” meant “to purchase” and once we realized this, we were left scrambling a week before take off purchasing all the necessary camping gear.

MISTAKE #3: Thinking the awning that marked our campsite was white the entire weekend yet still somehow managing to get lost finding camp…Every. Single. Time. Turns out our awning was black. Know what your campsite looks like people.

MISTAKE #4: Underestimating the power of a German music festival.

What exactly does that mean? It means I have never in my life been to a music festival quite like Melt. Seeing as you’re reading this you probably know a thing or two about festivals and the atmosphere that follows. Most likely you also have certain friends who are your go-to party people. Whenever you feel like having a good time these are the first folks you hit up. Now take those friends, multiply them until you reach about 20,000, and you get Melt Festival.

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No matter what festival you attend in the U.S. you will see a myriad of teeny boppers in jeweled bras and boob glitter, security at every corner, passed out wooks who can’t handle themselves, and groups of frat bros with cut off jorts

Jorts |North American| noun: shorts made from cutting off and fraying the hem of jeans for a hillbilly-esque fashion statement.

Yes, yes this is an actual thing across U.S. college campuses.

And then you go to a place like Melt. In a far off land of ridiculously good looking Germans mostly all adhering to an effortlessly cool normcore style. A land where none of the aforementioned demographic exists. In fact, during my three nights at Melt I failed to see even just one of the above. No security, no frat bros, no jewel encrusted push-up bras. I could cry it was so beautifully refreshing.

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Besides a stellar festival audience, Melt decked out their already ridiculously awesome venue to heightened limits. To understand what it’s like to attend a festival set to the backdrop of an open-air industrial machine museum, you might imagine the set of Mad Max. But instead of brutal fighting, there’s people battling techno, indie, dance, pop-rock, alternative and more techno.

However, Melt didn’t stop there to ensure its venue was top notch. They set out additional stages along the lake that could only be accessed through haphazard entrances between trees and brush lit up by art installations. Like I said, the place was magical.

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Unlike many festivals stuffed with vendors trying to empty your wallet selling everything under the sun, Melt catered every aspect toward the overall music festival experience – emphasis on music. Besides a thrift store near the camping grounds, the only vendors were for the essentials: food and alcohol.

From being set inside a venue that included its own lake for swimming, amped up by incredible art installations and a stellar lineup geared towards keeping people on their feet, Melt was an experience unlike any other. Although it took me a solid week to recover, there are few places I’d go back to in a heartbeat and Melt Festival is one of them.

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Heading to your very first festival soon? Check out our Ultimate Music Festival Survival Guide and Essential (& printable) Packing List!

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  1. I’m off to Copenhagen for the weekend next month so this post is so helpful. As I’ll be travelling on a strict budget it sounds like art galleries are the place to go to get fed then!! Any other cheap (ish) options you’d recommend?

    • Definitely check out Tivoli and the Botanical Gardens, I heard so many good things about them from other travelers I had met. If you’re short on time I’d nix seeing the Little Mermaid statue unless you’re a diehard Disney fan, it’s very small and a tad lackluster. Also they have a serious good brunch game going on over there! Hope that helps a bit 🙂

  2. Love it!! I can’t wait to visit coppenhagen and so glad you had a good experience on Norweigan air. Sometimes i get a little nervous that these discount flight services are gonna be total crap. Thanks for the review. All the best!

    • I’ve flown on Norwegian Air twice now and each time has been absolutely spectacular! Highly recommend them 🙂

  3. Still struggle to think how expensive they are. Food at Standard looks good, ill take that lol. And the 10 rules state.. wow.

  4. I went to Denmark nearly a year ago and I just love so much this country. I would live in Copenhagen without thinking twice! It is a very cool city, and I didn’t even explore it to the fullest, I need to go back asap!

  5. Looks like a good time, especially if you ahve some extra $$$$. And I learned something new – the law of jante. I totally understand why they feel the need to have these rules.

    • It was super cool talking to the Danish locals about their customs and beliefs, definitely helps you understand a culture more!

  6. What a great article! You captured me right away and now I am trying to figure out how to get there. I love the interesting facts about Copenhagen, the 10 rules and their reaction to newcomers. I love that you did so much in such a short amount of time.

    • Thank you! It was my first European city so I tried to do as much as possible in the short amount of time that I had 🙂

  7. I haven’t been to København since I was a little girl (I remember Tivoli and Legoland fondly though). Definitely sounds like I need to head back to Denmark and rediscover the city!

    I think from memory, Denmark is the cheapest of the Scandinavia’s so on the bright side, it gives you a “taster” of the region!

    • Ah that’s awesome, had no idea it was the cheapest of all the Scandinavian countries! I focused mostly on Germany and Eastern Europe during this trip so out of all of those, it was by far the most expensive (but still ridiculously awesome) city I stayed in.

  8. I love Copenhagen! I have very close Danish friends that I lived with when we were all inCentral America together, and I went to visit them in Copenhagen while I lived in Italy. It’s such a beautiful city, I felt like I was in one of Christian Andersen’s fairytales 🙂 I was also fascinated by how many bike-riders there were in this city – there was more bike traffic than car traffic! Very interesting. Loved the food, as well. But dang, this city is extremely expensive… luckily I had locals to host me, or else I wouldn’t have been able to afford staying here long.

    • The food was by far some of the best I’ve had in Europe, so fresh and natural but ugh just so expensive. Having some friends who were local would have been primo!

    • I learned the Jante Laws from a local I had met and thought it was super helpful in understanding their culture, glad you liked it too 🙂

  9. Along the way you ll pass by the architecturally stunning Copenhagen Opera House and if you take a five to ten minute detour a block away, you ll also be able to stand on the grounds of the striking Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish royal family.

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