Being a Goth isn’t an easy business. For a start, there’s the leather repair bills. Add that to the constant chime of being told to “cheer up” by normies and the agony of white foundation melting off on a summer’s day, and you’ve got yourself quite the recipe for a life of gloom and darkness. But is that life a lonely one, you may wonder? Absolutely not, thanks to the biggest event in the Goth calendar: Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) festival.

Even if you already consider yourself to be a expert on the independent summer festival scene, we guarantee you won’t find many other gatherings quite as unique as this one. The question is, are you ready for alt heaven? If so, here’s our overview of the ultimate goth gathering on the planet...

What is Wave Gotik Treffen?

Every summer, a 20,000-strong crowd of revellers from all over the world, wearing enough black to merit comparison to a murder of crows, cast their dark shadows upon the humble city of Leipzig in eastern Germany for WGT. This year, attendees gathered to sway and mosh along to the musical stylings of Caberet Voltaire, Skinny Puppy and US-Belgian industrial-rock darlings, Revolting Cocks. Suspiciously, the event, takes place every Whitsuntide – the medievally-observed Christian celebration of yore… almost as if to be in direct defiance of The Lord, and therefore offering some sort of heathenistic respite for Dark Ones.

Congregants at the festival spend their long weekend eating, drinking, merry-making and generally wearing remarkable outfits. Among them are a dazzling array of steampunks with their confusing wooden adaptations of modern-day electrical heroes, well-heeled anachronists in (black) 18th century garb and Marie Antoinette wigs. Last but not least there are also, of course, classic ‘high school goths’ – the “hanging out behind the gym hall” variety – except now 25 years older.

Food & Drink

If you’re partial to a bit of blood Type O, you would be best advised to bring your own, because the Goths of WGT are so over the Dracula stereotypes and come armed with sophisticated palettes. Every year, as Leipzig is transformed with its colourful visitors (metaphorically speaking), local business owners get fully into the spirit by proffering a delicious selection of German cuisine for the occasion. More so than other parts of Germany, Leipzigers are known for their love of coffee, thanks to late 17th century Arabic influence, and of course you can expect to find the usual fare of beers and bratwurst. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes and the belly. And the soul. (The lost soul.)


Musically speaking, the festival is a get together for all genres and sub-genres of metal, industrial, and 80s goth, with a lot of niche bands known chiefly within those genres. However, don’t be fooled into thinking WGT is primarily a music festival – the event (which is thrown across the entire city) is equally centred around a variety of different performances in multiple venues and local landmarks - exhibitions, galleries, film, theatre, literature and, perhaps most wonderfully clichéd of all, tours of the city’s churches and cemeteries. The goth heart wants what it wants, after all.


Goth, naturally. Any other time of year, goths spend their days feeling like a rare gem among a sea of bland stones, but at WGT, it’s the Goth’s turn to play ‘ordinary’. Getting in the spirit with appropriate attire is recommended – if only to get in on the fun and earn some kudos from fellow festival goers. If you haven’t already done so, organise some black hair colour now (check out Schwarzkopf’s guide for going dark for some inspiration), SPF 50 and a hard-working eyeliner.

And try not to smile.