PLANNING - BEFORE YOU GO
So you want to go to the next WGT, then there are a few things you need to think about before you go, you need a plan. Depending on how close it is to the next WGT will depend on what you really need to do and how quickly you need to do it by. However a general rule would be to first book accommodation then arrange your travel details. This will ensure you have a place to stay when you get to Leipzig.
Planning your Trip will largely depend on your starting location / country of origin and your available budget...give yourself an upper limit for what you want to spend and try to stick to it, else the total cost can quickly spiral out of control.
PLANNING STEPS - THE BASICS
Do your research via this and other websites / forums.
Decide on how much you want or can spend on your WGT trip.
Decide on what type of accommodation you want to stay in (Hotel, Hostel, Pension or camping).
Reserve or book a room.
Think about what you want to take to WGT and how much it will weigh.
Decide how you will get to Leipzig (Plane, Train or Automobile).
If you are flying, decide where to (Direct to Leipzig or via Berlin).
Book an airline with the correct luggage allowance.
If you are flying into Berlin, pre book your train ticket to get you to Leipzig
1. RESEARCH - THIS AND OTHER WEBSITES
The first thing to do is to research Leipzig and the WGT Festival, as you are reading this I will presume you have thought about this and have found one of the best guides to WGT...there are others including the official WGT website forum.
2. SPEND - HOW MUCH WILL IT ALL COST YOU
Work out how much you want to spend, its is so very easy to overspend and then ruin your trip (normally once you get the bill when you are back home). Set your budget and try to stick to it. Of course the further you have to travel the more you will probably have to spend, are you just coming for WGT or are you going to travel about Europe before / after the festival?
3. ACCOMMODATION - INSIDE OR OUT
Now for the doing, sorting out your accommodation. You have a number of choices you can stay in a Hotel, an Apartment, a Pension* (B&B), a Hostel, AirBnB or you can Camp. I have no experience of camping in Leipzig, I’m far too old for that, but I know others that have camped and I will quote from their experiences, see the page on Camping for more details.
* Pensions (guest rooms) are accommodations of private landlords, particularly in tourism regions. A pension is usually a private house, by which some rooms are rented regularly for overnight accommodation. Since pensions usually have no own kitchen, there is usually only breakfast. They are equipped usually lower-priced than hotels and substantially more simple. Services of all kinds are reduced to room cleaning only. The prices for an overnight accommodation generally are 50% lower than a hotel for a room (although the actual cost will be dependent on the location and room size/grade).
4. HOTEL, APARTMENT, PENSION OR CAMPING - MORE ADVICE
If you decide to stay in a hotel then you have two things to consider before you book, location and cost, although the location will drive the cost, central Leipzig will be the most expensive and the best place to stay. I have listed a number of Hotels on the Hotels page (although more are opened each year).
If you decide to stay in a Hotel I advise you to book early, up to a year in advance (it’s free to reserve a room (in most cases) and you can always cancel a week or two before the event if you can’t actually make it). The best place to book your hotel is on the Internet. There are a multitude of websites where you can book hotels, however Hotel comparisons sites will provide you with the best deals normally such as Trivago. Apartments are a way of getting a little more freedom for a lower cost you can also stay with friends and cook for yourself should you wish. Most apartments tend to be a little further away from the centre of the city in residential parts of the city, Airbnb is probably the best site to use to book an apartment (just watch out for the scams). As for Pensions, these can be located via Google and by a number of Hotel booking websites like Booking.com, they are dotted across the city and tend to be cheaper (note the owners will probably not speak English and there maybe restrictions on when you can come and go)
My personal advice is to stay at the Pentahotel Leipzig because this is where the majority of the bands will stay and it’s interesting to hang around downstairs in the lobby bar and people (band) watch, however it can be very expensive. Alternative Hotels that I have used are the Seaside Park Hotel (4 star) or the Westin (4 star) if you have less budget then I would go with Motel One (3 star) or even the Ibis (2 star). There are loads of Hotels in Leipzig primary because Leipzig is a conference city and holds many events each year. The best location for hotels is around the Train Station / Hauptbahnhof and the city centre; this is the most central location for all the WGT venues and also the best place to jump on board the Trams. If you have the money then the only place to stay is the Steigenberger the best hotel in the City, but expect to pay over £1000 for your stay.
Hotel Prices vary from year to year; in 2006 Leipzig was one of the Host Cities for the World Cup and prices went up, and seem to have risen year by year. There can be a number of other festivals taking place in Leipzig over the same weekend, these inflate the cost of hotel rooms esp as they tend to cater to wider more affluent customer (if WGT clashes with the Bach Fest, Wagner Fest or even the Leipzig Fest then prices will be high and rooms will sell out very quickly). If you are reading this after January then I would suggest that you need to book very quickly, and then you may struggle to find an affordable room in the centre of Leipzig. If its later than January I would suggest that you will be staying in a hotel outside of the City Centre, or paying a premium price (or you can gamble, the official WGT forum and the sadgoth.com Facebook page will have offers of accommodation quite late in the year as people who have previously booked hand back their rooms, these can be transferred to you for no cost, and they are often at the lower rate as they were booked early, however I would also book a room you can hand back, just in case none of these present themselves or you are unlucky transferring them).
If you decide to Camp then you will need to get yourself down to the Agra Messepark. This is the main location of the Festival and also the location of the camp site. I advise getting to the camp site as early as you can on the Thursday, it’s going to fill up very quickly and all the prime sites will go very quickly. There is enough room for thousands of tents so the later you turn up the further you will have to walk across fields. If it rains you’re going to get muddy, the campsite is known to flood (in places). Security seems to be present around the camp site and you must have a different colour wristband to enter the campsite. Toilets are portaloo/dixie style and are scattered around the site. There are also some showers that cost a few Euro's to use, however you will need to get there early to get hot water and avoid the long queues. If you are camping you are permitted to take food and drink on to the Agra site, however NO Glass is allowed on site, and it will be removed from you. It is also advisable to ensure that your tent pegs are firmly buried as people will be wandering around late at night in the dark, drunk and the last thing you want is for somebody to fall over on your tent (especially if you are asleep), take ear plugs too if you actually want some sleep.
If you decide to stay in a Hotel, simply book one that does not require a deposit. Its free to book most hotels (although you normally need to confirm your identity with a credit card) and so long as you inform the hotel within a few days of WGT that you cannot make it you wont get charged. NOTE: You can opt to book and pay for a Hotel now if you are 100% sure that you are going, this may save you quite a bit of money (personally I have saved just under £200 in by booking and paying 6 months before WGT).
If you decide to camp then you simply have to wait till tickets go on sale (via the official WGT website) and then purchase the 'Obsorge' ticket, this is the camping WGT ticket and it gives you the same access to the festival but also allows you access to the camping site.
5. WHAT TO TAKE - LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE
So you have decided where you’re going to stay, the next thing to do is decide is what you are going to take with you (it may seem stupidly early, however you need to seriously think about this, it could cost you lots of money if you take too much. Plan well). Decide on what you want to take to Leipzig before you book your flight. If you have heavy stuff to take over then don’t book a budget airline, Ryan Air has a limit of 15kg whilst Easyjet and Eurowings both have limits of 20/23kgs (if you are flying from the UK). It may seem silly but if you pack a pair of New Rocks then you have just lost up to 6kgs of your allowance, added with the actual weight of your suitcase (normally about 6kgs) it can all add up to your total baggage allowance. We have heard stories of people being charged €100s for extra baggage, and that’s one way (and only adds up to a few extra kilograms). Also remember that if you go shopping you will need some space to pack the added weight. I have also noted that many airlines now have a maximum suitcase weight of 23kgs (due to health and safety concerns of those that have to load the aircraft), so another option is to have a carry on suitcase that fit in the overhead lockers, you might want to keep it empty too as this can be your shopping space on the return flight.
Also for those travelling long distance with connecting flights on a different airline you should note that many of Europes carriers have a max weight of suitcase normally set at 23kg, therefore you might get stung for fees / have to re-pack if you bring too much (probably best to fly straight into Berlin).
I advise taking a suitable suitcase (preferably an upright one with a decent handle that extends. You may need to haul it from the airport to the train station if you go via Berlin, and then from the train station to your hotel. Can it handle cobble stones?). Think about what you want to take, outfits, boots, toiletries etc, don’t take ten outfits when you may only need five (you will find that most people go out at lunch time all dressed up and don't come back to the hotel). If you can get away with one pair of boots don’t take any more (its common sense really, but some of the things we have seen proves that not everybody thinks about this important factor). Wear all your heaviest clothes; you can always take them off once you have checked in at the airport.
I also advise taking a different pair of shoes or boots, 'Treffen Foot' sets in after a few days and your feet will ache like mad (after standing, dancing on concrete for a few days)...Its quite common for a variety of non goth boots/shoes to appear on feet on the Monday of WGT (apart from providing some comedy value its vital to remember to have additional shoes to wear when you don't need your biggest meanest goth boots, its that or end up with very sore feet, blisters and a longing to sit down whenever you can).
If you want to attend the Victorian Picnic or wear ball gowns then you are going to need extra space, it therefore may make more sense to book a non budget airline such as British Airways or to drive and take as much clothes as you want. Personally at WGT I go for comfort, the days are long and I want to be able to sit down anywhere so its leather trousers and some form of long sleeve t-shirt for me, normally with an extra layer in my rucksack for the evening when it can get a bit chilly.
6. GETTING TO LEIPZIG
For many of us flying is the only way to get to Germany / Leipzig, there are many routes (depending on where you are starting your journey and if you are doing anything before or after the festival. From the UK the flight to Berlin is only an hour and twenty minutes, slightly longer if you are flying into Leipzig Halle from Stanstead on Ryan Air.
You can of course take the Train, its quite a long journey (esp. from London) and it is recommended that you break the trip up with a stop over somewhere along the route, trains are bookable 180 days prior to WGT (this is when Deutsche Bahn put their tickets on sale)
And of course you can drive to Leipzig, again the length of trip will depend on your starting location, if you are going from the UK you should consider stopping over somewhere or having at least two drivers, expect the journey to take 8 to 10 hours (depending on route / traffic) from Calais to Leipzig.
7. ROUTES TO LEIPZIG
Berlin is where most of us that are flying will land, there are two airports Tegal and Schonefeld, both are regional airports in size and easy enough to navigate around and into central Berlin where you can get public transport down to Leipzig. If you land at Tegal you will need to take the bus to the central train station in Berlin (about 20 minute), if you land at Schonefeld you can take the local train into town (about 30 minutes). There are flights from all over the world to Berlin, its quite easy to get down to Leipzig, you have a few choices, you can take the train, the bus or drive there in a hire car (more details on subsequent pages)
You also have the option of flying from Stanstead to Leipzig Halle (if you live in the UK), the flight times are not brilliant, and I personally dont really like flying with Ryanair (as I tend to travel heavy), that said, many will take that flight and therefore not have to navigate Berlin. You can of course also change at Berlin and get an internal flight down to Leipzig (however that probably takes longer than taking the train).
8. AIRLINES AND LUGGAGE
You probably wont have many options once you have decided on a route, price will probably dictate who you book with, but do check the baggage allowances before you book, goth gear is heavy and a number of budget airlines are quite restrictive on what weight your suitcase can be (esp. Ryanair), personally I fly with Easyjet and book extra baggage weight up to 26kgs, then I dont have to worry about what I take, you can of course take quite large hand luggage on to a flight, but my personal preference is to travel light and not be burdened by two suitcases.
9. TRAIN TICKETS
If you have flown into Berlin then the easiest way down to Leipzig is by ICE train, it takes an hour and twenty minutes, tickets go on sale 180 days prior to WGT (and the cheapest tickets), its worth checking routes and class type as sometimes its cheaper to go 1st Class. If you are flying into Schonefeld then the easiest station to get too is Berlin Südkreuz, its easier to navigate too as Berlin Hauptbahnhof is huge (its really nice, full of shops and restaurants, but its on multiple levels and always a pain in my opinion to find out where to stand when the train arrives, see subsequent pages for more info)
I AM TRAVELLING ALONE, LIVE IN THE UK AND HAVE A TOTAL BUDGET
OF ABOUT £1000 - WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
First, I would read this site well and join the various WGT related forums and message boards.
Second, I would book a hotel in central Leipzig, with this budget I would go for the Seaside Park Hotel, the Novotel, The Leipzig Marriott or the Ibis...varying prices but they are all in the central area close to the Hauptbahnhof.
Third, I would book my flight with a budget airline (and then manage my baggage weight) with either Easyjet or Air Berlin from Gatwick or Stanstead (depending on the lowest price). I would book the car park at the airport at the same time.
Fourth, I would book the train from Berlin to Leipzig so I knew I had a seat
Fifth, I would read as much as I could on the various sites, print out various details and make myself aware of how to get the most out of my trip. I would also post questions if I had any on one of the various forums.
Sixth, I would purchase my WGT ticket when they go on sale.
Seventh, I would sit back and wait for one of the best weekends of the year
WHEN DO I NEED TO BOOK?
Book a year in advance if you can (although you may end up paying more) I normally book about 9/10 months in advance of the next WGT as this is a period when prices are generally at their lowest, if not then book/reserve your room as soon a possible.
AHHH ITS ONLY 6 WEEKS TILL WGT
Don't panic!...and don't worry, even the people that book late can get Hotel rooms, you have two choices, watch all the WGT forums and get yourself a room that is handed back, or be prepared to stay in a Hotel that is located outside of the city centre (Leipzig has loads of hotels, if you don't mind the distance you will always find one, even at this late stage).
If you are flying via Berlin then I strongly recommend that you purchase your Train Tickets to and from Leipzig, yes it is a gamble (as you will probably book a ticket on a specific train, if your flight is delayed you may loose the ticket), however if you want a seat on the train then you need to book in advance, just like most German rail passengers do. If you don't then be prepared to stand for an hour and a half. Train Tickets go on sale approximately 180 days before you need to travel.