Hellfest is an annual music festival in the French town Clisson. It is held in the outdoor sports complex Val de Moine, about 400 km southwest of Paris. The festival hosts a variety of heavy metal, hard rock, hardcore and punk acts.
Our crew and editors could not resist to attend this extreme festival once again, so now we’d like to share our experience of this 12th edition of Hellfest with you!
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The main reason why we return every year (and choose Hellfest over Graspop) is because the overall atmosphere is just amazing. Every year we have a lot of random (and sometimes really drunk) encounters with interesting people with an extended and sophisticated taste in music. There is a lot of respect for the different (sub)genres in metal and often interesting discussions about them. There aren’t many posers and we’ve never seen a fight at Hellfest! Also, from the professional point of view from one of our editors (who is an audio engineer), the sound is (usually) really good.
Besides that, the festival site itself is great too. It’s stretched out with a few weird corners and a chill wood in the middle (the shadow was very welcome this year with the high temperatures!). So you never have a complete overview of the crowd and that gives the impression it’s not as busy as other festivals. It’s also filled with cool art objects like a Hellfest Metal Tree, a crashed helicopter, a Lemmy statue, burning bars,… The local wine also tastes good and last but not least, there’s a great line-up, every year again! A nice mix of big bands, obscure bands, cult bands and every now and then a band you wouldn’t expect at a metal festival. Which makes an interesting line-up to us!
#RoadToHell : Our journey started very early in the morning (5 a.m.) in Ghent and led us via Paris all the way to Clisson. Something that’s very important to know, is that on the road to Clisson there are multiple tollbooths (“Péage”). Be sure to either have enough cash or a credit card at hand, as Maestro, among others, isn’t accepted. Keep your toll ticket in a safe place, as you will have to insert it in the machine at the next tollbooth.
Hellfest is situated in between a massive amount of vineyards, which makes for a great surrounding of a French metal festival. This year, we could easily drive to the parking lot and didn’t have a lot of problems to get to our beloved Camp Orange. We arrived the day before the festival, quite early, and set up our camp in the back. Not that we don’t like camping parties but we found a spot with lots of shadow and not too crowded. A quiet spot helps for a good night of rest, which is necessary for the marathon Hellfest is!
CASHLESS (PREPAID CARD)
Just like last year, Hellfest used the system of Cashless prepaid cards. You can buy and recharge the card at the Hell City Square and at several locations on the festival infield. Both cash and bankcards are accepted to recharge your Cashless card.
You can use this card to pay for your drinks at the Hellfest-bars and for the food at the Hellfest-snack stalls. You can NOT use them at the other food stalls, nor at merchandise stands, there you have to use cash.
FOOD & DRINKS
First of all, you have to buy a Hellfest cup (28 cl cup) that costs you €1. This is not a deposit, you really buy the cup, so you can’t return it at the end of the festival to get your money back. When you go and get a new drink, you obviously hand in your old cup first, or they charge you another €1 extra. Sometimes you get a clean cup in return, but they can just as well refill your “dirty” cup.
Talking about filling the cups: a full cup of soda or beer (Kronenbourg) will cost you €2.80, which is more than last year, but still in line with other festivals. You pay €3 for a pitcher (1,5 l !) which you can fill up with all the drinks they have to offer (beer, soda, wine, …). Own drinks, cans and glass are prohibited on the festival site, but allowed on the campsite.
A really big advantage (especially for vegetarians or people with food allergies) is that you can bring your own food onto the festival site. This can seriously limit the amount of money you would spend at a festival, and also make it somewhat healthier, or you can bring snacks to fit into your busy time schedule. Between the entrance and the forest there are a lot of food stalls with a great range of food, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. One thing we only discovered at the end of last year’s festival were the Hellfest Burgers from the Hellfest Snack Stands. These beef, ham or fish burgers were not covered by bread but soggy, juicy, oily hashbrowns and it really looks terrible. But they taste so fucking amazing and we ended up getting those delicious bastards several times a day, they really became our Hellfest powerfood. We freaking miss them and are still looking for the recipe… This year they added bread buns to them, but we still prefer the juicy mess it was last year.
If you want to buy some food outside the festival, there is a supermarket in Clisson, on about a 5 minute walk from the campsite. This supermarket (E.Leclerc) is huge and we’re sure you can find almost anything you would need, so it’s really not necessary to bring your own food from home. You can also buy ice there, to keep your food/drinks cold. The beer in the supermarket is mainly sold in glass bottles, so you better watch your steps on the campsite!
The campsite at Hellfest is included in your ticket, and the area is located just next to the festival area. You could enter the campsite starting Thursday at 2PM if you had a combi-ticket.
There is NO free water at the campsite, you have to buy a €6 “water point” bracelet to get unlimited water and to shower. The water points at the infield however, are for free.
The toilets at the campsite and Metal Corner are no Dixi’s, but cardboard boxes that stay reasonably fresh during the hot summer days and they smell a lot less than Dixi’s, thanks to the sawdust that’s thrown into the toilets. A big thanks to the heroes who sit behind those boxes and keep them clean!
Most of the festival area is the same as last year, with the redesigned Warzone, including a big shrine dedicated to Lemmy Kilmister and the skate park next to the wine bar. And they managed to upgrade it again, this year! We were surprised to see a new building near the Warzone: Hell Fresh. Curious to see what this had in store for us, we entered and – to our great delight – felt a cool mist being spread around. It could have been more outspoken, but it was refreshing nontheless!
In the Metalcorner you can party all night with several (local) bands and DJ’s. The fun already starts on Wednesday evening with one hell of a pre-party, where you can bring your own booze and food, since it’s located at the campsite. For the people who have enough money there are also a few bars, a wine bar and some food stalls.
When you follow the road towards the festival site, you will arrive at the Hell City Square, which you will recognize as it is the first place you see when you pass the festival entrance. Here you can find cool building-like artwork inspired by Camden Street in London, toilets, an ATM, some of Hellfest’s partners, the info-point (like Dr. Martens), the Extreme market and early-bird tickets for Hellfest 2018. At the Extreme Market you can find labels and distro’s that sell the merch of some of your favorite bands.
The festival site itself contains a big infield with several bars, food stalls and merchandise stalls. There are 6 stages in total: 2 mainstages for the headliners, special acts and popular bands, and 4 smaller stages that are divided by (sub-)genre. We can chill out with stoner and doom at The Valley, The Warzone states the obvious chaos and intensity of punk and hardcore, and we can find i.a. thrash, death, black and folk at The Altar and The Temple. This way there’s something for everyone and you immediately know where to go.
Between The Temple and The Valley and all the way opposite the mainstages there are normal flushing toilets and taps where you can find drinking water for free. There’s a ferris wheel, the “Kingdom of Muscadet” forest where you can chill in the shadows of the trees, a skating ramp and next to the forest you can find several great food stalls.
And of course this wouldn’t be France if there weren’t any special wine bars, which you can find at the end of the Kingdom of Muscadet forest. Santé!
All the way opposite the mainstages, to the right side of the mainstages, and in between The Temple and The Valley there are normal flushing toilets and water points.
The VIP/PRESS area was well equipped, and this year it changed quite a bit! It was moved behind the Valley and they built an awesome new area. From inside the VIP bar you could still watch the concerts on big screen. There was more space than at the previous years, and it was not that crowded anymore.