Great Times At Graspop Metal Meeting 2019

After a month since to our visit to Graspop Metal Meeting 2019 it’s about time for a little throwback. We had three great days of screaming guitars and wrist-fracturing drumbeats… felt like heaven on earth!

Just to make things clear. I don’t see my event blog posts as reviews. I would describe them more as some kind of journal (diary-like post), in which I write about my actions, thoughts and feelings. Now you might picture me as a teen girl, laying on her bed with her feet waving lazily through the air and writing about her crush in her diary. But, what the hell… that’s fine by me.

Enough small talk! Let’s go back to our visit to one of the best metal festivals of Europe. For those who don’t know, Graspop Metal Meeting (often shortened to ‘Graspop’ or ‘GMM’) is a Belgian (three-days) heavy metal festival held in Dessel each year since 1996. It’s known the world over for putting on a very very very nice display of iconic metal acts, attracting thousands of international fans.

This years edition was completely sold out! But, the festival field “Stenehei” in Dessel, Belgium, offers Graspop’s approximately 200.000 visitors plenty of room to enjoy and dance on your favorite music in the sun. Or, like we did, to just sit, relax and enjoy the music.

Graspop offers plenty refreshments to take care of the inner metalhead. You can buy cold beer, soft drinks and a variety of snacks (read: junk food) at the stalls around the festival area. For those who are not eating animal meat, human or alien meat, there are also many vegetarian options. My personal favorites are churros and pancakes. But, don’t expect high food quality!

Why I love Graspop so much? Well, definitely not because of the food. It’s because of the unique atmosphere. For three days, thousands of metal fans communed in an atmosphere of friendship, understanding, tolerance and an unwavering love of heavy music. Numerous of visitors from different countries are partying together in peace. 

Again, it was one hell of a festival, with multiple highlights and, of course, some disappointments as well. It was also a weekend of goodbyes. A number of bands will bid farewell to the stage with the end of the 2019 (festival) season and performed at Graspop Metal Meeting as a part of their ‘final tour’.

With five stages (Main Stage 1 & 2, Marquee, Metal Dome, Jupiler Stage and Classic Rock Café) and so many bands performing, it’s almost impossible to see every single show, but here’s a short summary of what we did see:

Lynyrd Skynyrd (Friday, Main Stage 1, 19:15)
Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is in the midst of what they’re calling the Last of the ‘Street Survivors Farewell Tour’. It is intended to be the final tour cond
ucted by the band. It was my first time, and also last time, seeing this band perform live, and I have to say it was quite a good show.

Slayer (Friday, Main Stage 1, 23:30)
After the slightly disappointing show by the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation, it was time for Slayer, which was definitely the main headliner of this festival Friday. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the American thrash metal heroes are calling it a day in 2019. They played their final Benelux show, which is part of their ‘Final World Tour’, at Graspop.
And what a great show it was!

Amon Amarth (Friday, Main Stage 2, 20:40)
One of the bands that I really wanted to see. Amon Amarth is probably one of, if not the most famous viking themed band in the metal genre… and for good reason. And, they are definitely part of my top 10 favorite bands. Their show was really spectacular,
 filled with fireworks, viking battles and implacable guitar violence. Vocalist Johan Hegg definitely knows how to control a crowd and make them part of the show.

By the way, I recently bought tickets to the Amon Amarth concert next december in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m so excited!! 

HammerFall (Saturday, Main Stage 2, 13:50)
Another one of those pleasant Graspop surprises. This was my first acquaintance the Swedish band and I have to say I liked what I heard. Perhaps because some of the band members are also involved in other projects I like (Niklas Sundin & Mikael Stanne, both Dark Tranquillity). HammerFall is definitely a name to remember for the near future.

KISS (Sunday, Main Stage 1, 23:00)
Another band which is about ready to “throw the towel”. After a stellar career spanning four and a half decades, Detroit rockers KISS are calling it quits, but not before treating thei
r millions of loyal fans to one last scintillating tour aptly called ‘End of the Road’.  To be honest, KISS is not one of my all-time-favorite bands and the music hasn’t changed much over the years, but this was one of the last opportunities to see this the legendary hard rock band perform. And I must confess, it’s impressive to see these guys perform at their age.

In addition to the above, we also saw great shows of a.o. Halestorm, Trivium, Disturbed, Godsmack, Slipknot, Whitesnake, Rob Zombie, Def Leppard and Sabaton.

After three days partying in sunny Dessel I was quite exhausted but satisfied. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end and so, and so it was time to pack up and go home with nothing but great memories… and a mild sunburn. Note to self: never wear fishnet stockings on a hot summer day!

Final thoughts:
⊗ Was it worth the visit? Hell yeah!
Did we get to hear some great music? Hell yeah!
⊗ Do we want to visit next year’s edition? Once more, hell yeah!

 

BEARDsterdam 2019

My sweet bearded boyfriend Count vlAD and I went to BEARDsterdam 2019, which was held exactly four weeks ago today, on the 11th of may 2019, at Pakhuis West in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

This was my first time visiting the event BEARDsterdam and I really had a great time; good (and in the majority) bearded company to spend the day with, sunny weather, fine background music and some really cool performances. To cap it all, I had the honor to meet some of my sisters of The Villainettes Sisterhood (also for the first time)… how cool is that?

What is BEARDsterdam?
For those who don’t know, BEARDsterdam is Europe’s Biggest beard-event for beards and beard-lovers, hosted and powered by the Dutch Chapter of the Bearded Villains.
This year’s edition of BEARDsterdam was in the interest of doing good for the KiKa Foundation, the only charity in the Netherlands that raises funds for innovative research and other activities in the field of all forms of childhood cancer, aimed at less pain, more cure and a better quality of life. Furthermore, KiKa focuses on providing information. I think supporting the KiKa Foundation is a great initiative!

There were many fun things to do and see during this year’s edition of BEARDsterdam:

  • Beard care and barbering.
  • Tattooing. Some of the best tattoo artists of Europe were ready to to ink you up!
  • Merchandise stands with different unique products from all over the world, among with various Beard Villains Chapter merchandise. I managed to buy myself some nice new chapter patches to sew on my “patch corset”. 
  • Pin-up contests.
  • Live music.
  • And, of course, a beard competition. Because a beard event cannot be without a beard competition. Europe’s best beards took the challenge of becoming Best European Beard!

Bearded Villains, BV-supporters, beards and beard-lovers from all around the globe visited BEARDsterdam and I have seen and met a lot of interesting people this day.

Talking about meeting people, it was truly amazing meeting some of my beautiful sisters of The Villainette Sisterhood during BEARDsterdam 2019, including my scout and guide during my journey to become an official Villainettes Member. I have completely embraced all of these wonderful women in my heart, which is how deep the sisterhood goes. I hope to have the opportunity to meet them, and even more of my sisters, again someday. 

To conclude: BEARDsterdam 2019 was well worth the visit and is a great place to hang out with friends. I am already looking forward to next year’s edition!

More information about BEARDsterdam can be found on the website beardsterdam.com.

Keltfest 2017: An Awesome Celtic party!

Keltfest 2017 has just passed and what a great festival it was! The festival grounds were packed and filled with good vibes and smiles from ear to ear. Thousands came to the Dutch Biesbosch National Park in Dordrecht to enjoy Celtic music and food, browse vendor booths and hirtoric activities.

For those who don’t know, Keltfest, organised by Vana Events, is the biggest two-day Celtic event of the Netherlands, with lots of Celtic bands, entertainment, a market and Historic groups.

Keltfest is a fun and family-orientated festival for all ages. Kids enjoy a children’s area with a.o. crafting, face painting, archery and the traditional kiddybattle, when children have a chance to fight the adults. For the adults, a beer garden is available were they serve refreshing cider and three awesome draft beers: Murphys Red, Strongbow, Pimpelaer and Pimpelaer Gold (beer with a touch of honey). Of course, all drinks are served in special stone Keltfest cups.

Throughout the festival grounds, vendors offered a variety of wares, including kilts, toys, fairy costumes, jewelry, and swords and bow replicas. My sweet boyfriend Count vlAD bought himself an awesome new Viking drinking horn at Drachenheim’s stall. So, next time he can drink his beer in style.

Like most festivals, Keltfest also has many food vendors to satisfy your inner Celt. Going from simple fast food such as fries or pizza, to meat dishes like Highlander steak or Spareribs. But you can also find many vegetarian options. One of my favorite “old-timely snacks” is garlic bread (aka Knobibröt)… quite simple, but very tasty!

The festival field Dutch Biesbosch is a great location for an event like this. There is plenty of room to enjoy and dance on your favorite music in the sun. But, for those warm and sunny festival days (like we had), the location offers plenty of tree-shaded spots to just sit and relax for a bit.

To conclude: Keltfest is a brilliant and well-organized event. My boyfriend and I really had loads of fun. The sunny weather, good music, tasty food, and, above all, the fantastic atmosphere made it a wonderful day. I am already looking forward to the next edition!

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Festival TREK 2017: A Tasty Time!

This May the new season of (food truck) Festival TREK started, so my friends and I hopped into the car and attended this year’s edition in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. It was my first visit to this festival and I really had a great and tasty time; good bearded company to spend the day with, sunny summer weather, fine background music, refreshing drinks and, of course, tasty street food.

If you’re looking for mini gastronomic adventure with friends or family, the Festival TREK is good fun. For this festival, numerous food trucks travel through the entire country to provide city parks with delicacies and drinks, plus live music, theatre and other entertainment. How cool is that! Every edition lasts between two and four days, depending on the city.

Entrance is free, so there will be more cash for your delicacies. All you need to do is spot the best street food truck. You can find food ranges from the exotic such as Surinamese and Indie food, to the homely like pizza and Dutch mini pancakes. Each car has its own specialty. There’s a range of vegan and veggie options too, so everyone can join in on the street food action. With such a great selection, the only problem is going to be deciding what to tuck into.

I just love grilled food. My personal favorites were burgers by “STACKS”, pork belly sandwich by “Het Weeshuys” and flank steak sandwich by “Proeven = Geloven”.

Of course, good street food needs to be accompanied by an equally impressive drink. The festival also has a focus on craft beer, wine and cocktails. But, for those who do not drink alcohol (or, just like me, have to drive your friends home safely), there is also a variety of nonalcoholic drinks.

To conclude: Festival TREK was well worth the visit and is a great place to hang out with friends. I am sure I am going to be back next time. 

 

 

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A Magical Visit: Elfia Haarzuilens 2017

Last weekend I visited Europe’s biggest fantasy festivals: Elfia Haarzuilens 2017. And it was magical!

For those who don’t know, Elfia is an outdoor fantasy event in The Netherlands and from 2009 it has been held twice a year, in April at Castle de Haar (Haarzuilens) and in September at Castle Arcen (Arcen). The festival be described as a wonderful mixture of an open-air convention, Renaissance fair, concerts, and cosplay contest, spread over an entire weekend. Elfia is supposedly attended by around 30,000 guests. This year’s 25th edition of the event was held in the beautiful grounds of Castle de Haar and was celebrated with the theme “Good Faeries, Bad Faeries.”

Castle de Haar is really a great location for an event like this. You already have a great setting (for taking beautiful pictures) and a massive terrain to work with. Because of the large castle grounds, even with the crowds it was perfectly possible to find a quiet spot to just sit and relax for a bit, or to take photos unhindered of other visitors. Also the whole location is very pretty, even when you’re not looking at all the stands and cosplayers.

Elfia is quite possibly the most varied fantasy fair that the Netherlands has on offer. There is something for everyone: lectures, concerts, storytellers and themed areas (Steampunk, Medieval, Post-apocalyptic, …). There is also a huge market where you can buy almost everything from clothing to replica swords and just general toys and gadgets. I just could resist to buy myself an awesome new headpiece at the NoxAurum stall.

The food is very nice and there are plenty of stalls to get some tasty “old-timely snacks”, going from simple fast food such as fries or candy apples, to meat dishes like pork roast with sauerkraut. And all pretty reasonable in price. For those who are not eating animal meat, human or alien meat, there are also many vegetarian options. My personal favorites are garlic breads (aka Knobibröt) and, as you can see on the picture, meat on a stick.

To conclude: Elfia Haarzuilens was well worth the visit. We arrived fairly early and stayed for almost the whole day, so when we left we were quite exhausted. But we really had loads of fun. Good music, tasty food, nice market stalls, the fantastic atmosphere, meeting friends, admiring other people’s beautiful outfits (read: creations)… we just enjoyed everything and are already looking forward to the next edition!

 

              

           Pictures are made by Jan Brouwer (left and middle picture) and Joop Clavaux (right).

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