Pukkelpop Experiences? (Belgian Alternative Music Festival).
May 30, 2006 1:35 AM   Subscribe

Pukkelpop Experiences? (Belgian Alternative Music Festival).

I'm a 27 year old Australian, heading to Europe in August. After trying to find some gigs or festivals to attend while i'm visiting, I've stumbled across the Belgian music festival, Pukkelpop.

The mostly complete line up for this year has been announced and it's a pretty incredible line up! Daft Punk live!!

I have plenty of questions I'd love to ask.. but I'll try to keep it concise. I'm mainly hoping for anything that people are willing to share. Experiences, tips for a foreigner in Belgium are all welcome!

  • Have you attended in the past? What was your experience? How was the crowd, the vibe? Is it packed and a massive crush? Can you take cameras? (SLRs too?)

  • Accomodation. The ticket includes camping and train travel as part of the ticket, is it a good idea? Are there good alternatives in Hasselt or Kiewit?

  • The venue... where exactly is it held? Is it easy to get to?

    Thankyou in advance for all your responses!
  • posted by snarkle to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
    I went last year for the first time, and had a brilliant time. You're right about this year's brilliant line-up, am thinking about going back!

    Here are some random thoughts..

    - crowd is very good natured and friendly, generally

    - you have to eat some waffles there, i'm still lusting after the ones I had :)

    - compared to some other euro festivals I've been too, it wasn't too big. It had enough space so that people didn't feel like rats in a cage (like at Reading), but wasn't so spread out that you were exhausted at the end (like at glastonbury)

    - campsite and festival site are separate, but very close - opposite sides of a main road. this means you can take alcohol into the campsite, but not the festival site (although my friends and I managed to snuggle some wine in, by buying boxes and taking in the foil pouches from the inside!)

    - don't expect to get much sleep. the french and flemish teenagers spend all night shouting at each other across the campsite! other than that the camping was much the same as at any other festival (ie, get there early if you want a decent pitch)

    - my only (very brief) bad experience was down the front for The Prodigy - the crowd management wasn't up to much and the squeeze was horrendous

    - i'd suggest driving. as i drove away, i was struck by how awful the scenes/queues at the stations were.

    - venue is fairly easy to get to, though we had to ask for exact directions to the campsite in a nearby village

    - the festival site isn't that close to the nearest town, so best to be prepared before you arrive

    will come back if i have any more thoughts..
    posted by ascullion at 1:57 AM on May 30, 2006

    Hi snarkle,

    Pukkelpop is one of the two biggest festivals in Belgium (the other being Rock Werchter). Pukkelpop is more 'alternative', and somewhat less commercial. (Don't let them fool you though, Pukkelpop is also run by ClearChannel entertainment, if such things are important to you.)

    The site is huge, meaning that usually it doesn't get too crowded, there's lots of free space between the different stages (about 7 or 6 if I'm not mistaken) where you can relax between the different performances.

    Some general tips/replies to your questions, on the top of my head:
    • Have you attended in the past? What was your experience? How was the crowd, the vibe? Is it packed and a massive crush? As said above, it usually isn't too packed in general, but of course during performances of headliners (like Daft Punk) don't expect to be able to get to the front row in 2 minutes. Belgian crowds are usually very relaxed, the atmosphere at Pukkelpop is usually quite laid back.
    • Can you take cameras? (SLRs too?) You can take 'non-professional' cameras on site. From my experience, SLRs are usually not permitted (unless you've got a press pass), though this can depend from entrance-person to entrance-person. SLRs are also maybe a bit dangerous to carry around in huge crowds like these. Point and shoot cameras are fine though.
    • Bring good shoes. As said, the terrain is quite big, and you'll do a lot of walking between different concerts. Also, if the weather is bad (not unusual in Belgium at the end of august), the terrain can be quite wet.
    • The venue... where exactly is it held? Is it easy to get to? It's in the town of Kievit, next to Hasselt. Getting there is very easy, especially by train. If you're in Hasselt before the festival you can take busses as well. Walking from the city centre is not recommended :).
    • Accomodation. The ticket includes camping and train travel as part of the ticket, is it a good idea? Are there good alternatives in Hasselt or Kiewit? Kiewit station is about 500 m from the festival site. Camping is at the opposite side of the road of the main festival site. As ascullion said the camping can be loud at night, especially the areas close to the festival. There are some quiter parts at the back though. Be prepared for some nasty smells (if it's hot) or to get wet (if it rains). If you're staying for more than 2 days, be prepared to smell; don't expect much from the shower and washing facilities. Maybe a youth hostel in Hasselt is a bit more comfortable, it all depends on how much comfort you want. If you're leaving on sunday, either leave very early, very late, or be prepared to wait *a lot*. Maybe you can hitch a ride to your next destination to avoid the long waits. (It's probably easiest to arrange this in advance via the forum on the festival website.)
    • You can bring food and drinks on the terrain, as long as it isn't in 'dangerous' packaging. This means that cans and bottles (glass or plastic) are a big none, but cartons are permitted. (They don't mind if theres orange juice or wine in it. Even the plastic wine-bags from the 5 liter boxes are fine.) When it's hot, bring some drinks of your own for your thirst (ie. orange juice), else the Belgian beer on the terrain will do just fine.
    • It can be economical to bring some food. 'French' fries (don't call them that in Belgium though - everybody knows we invented them :)), spaghetti and the likes are available on the terrain, but it can be a bit pricey.
    • Most neigbours on the road from the station to the festival site convert their driveway to a temporary restaurant/bar during the festival. Prepare to be ripped off, some of them are very expensive. Compare. If you've got anymore questions, don't hesitate to ask or send me an e-mail. And if you want to meet up for a beer when you're there, feel free to send me a mail as well.

    posted by lodev at 2:45 AM on May 30, 2006

    All ascullion said, there will be lots of shouting during the night; do take earplugs if you want to get some sleep. The most popular exclamation will most definitely be the trusty old "Hoeren!" again (hookers, that is). Don't worry, it's actually quite cute as it is some weird bonding ritual between campers.

    Do send me an email if you'd like to meet and have a beer. My address in is my profile.
    posted by koenie at 5:22 AM on May 30, 2006

    posted by koenie at 5:22 AM on May 30, 2006

    Wow, I just clicked on your Pukkelpop link and the same band is playing as when I went 14 years ago (Urban Dance Squad). My info is a bit dated but I had a phenomenal time. The people were amazing. The only thing I can suggest (if it's the same??) is to have a place to stay. The trains were a bit overwhelmed although that made it more exciting. I'd love to go again.
    posted by snez at 6:05 AM on May 30, 2006

    Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks for the fantastic responses! I really appreciate it!

    It's late here, so I'm off to bed. But I'll have a proper read and response tomorrow hopefully!

    posted by snarkle at 6:20 AM on May 30, 2006

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