Metal on Metal: How Mystic Festival has grown to become one of Europe’s most essential events for metal fans

A photograph of a crowd at Mystic Festival
(Image credit: Mystic Festival)

Situated in one of the most unique settings of any European festival, Gdansk, Poland’s Mystic Festival is rapidly becoming one of the most essential dates in the summer festival calendar for any fan of heavy music.

Even before we explore the many musical delights of the event, the setting and surroundings of Mystic are enough to pique your interest. Rather than a faceless airstrip or a barren field, you can experience Mystic’s many musical delights in the rare and unusual environment of the Gdansk Shipyard, it gives the festival a feel and look all of its own, as you navigate the huge, steely frames and iron-clad habitat whilst some of the best bands in heavy music rattle the very foundations of the site.

It is, quite literally, a heavy metal festival surrounded by heavy metal. 

Not only do the fans and attendees of Mystic Festival adore the idiosyncratic backdrop, and the atmosphere it creates, but the many legendary metal bands that have stepped onto one of Mystics five stages clearly do too. This year the festival has been honored with iconic Quebec prog-metallers Voivod writing an official anthem specifically for the festival. The song, Chaotic Harmony, is classic Voivod, full of dizzying riffs and inescapable grooves, and will be released on a strictly limited-edition, never to be repressed, vinyl.

You can listen to it in its full glory here:

If that isn’t enough of a treat for fans, the band will be performing at the festival and their drummer, Michel “Away” Langevin, a man well known for his legendary visual art and graphic design, will be displaying his artwork at the festival as well.

It’s events such as these, in such distinctive conditions, that make Mystic Festival so much more than your average music festival, and it is far from the only happening in 2023 that you will only get at the festival. Another coup for the event this year is that the original goth-metal Godfather Glenn Danzig will be bringing his band Danzig to Mystic for one of only a pair of European festival appearances in 2023. Exciting enough on its own, but to add to the must-see nature of the show, Danzig will be celebrating the 35th birthday of their classic 1988 self-titled debut album by performing it in full. 

And this is only a pair of the amazing sets that will be taking place at Mystic this year, with over 90 bands confirmed, including the likes of Ghost, Behemoth, Sleep Token, Gojira, Meshuggah, Testament, Electric Wizard, Spiritbox and many, many more all appearing over the course of the weekend. 

It all takes place at the Gdansk Shipyard from June 7 to 10, with over 70 operating routes flying into the Polish city (13 in the UK and 16 across Scandanavia). If you have found yourself tiring of the same spaces, same bills and same atmosphere across festivals every summer, then Mystic Festival offers a truly singular festival experience with a lineup that would be a dream for any fan of heavy music.   

Don’t take our word for it though, tickets are available here. You can also check out the festival's Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

A poster for Mystic Festival

(Image credit: Mystic Festival)
Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.