Fusion Festival is an underground music festival and social experiment, that may be the most attended yet least publicized of its kind.
I did the research and have prepared a small guide for those who want to learn more about its unique background and hopefully take part.
What is Fusion Festival?
Fusion (stylized in Cyrillic as Фузион) is a counterculture music and arts festival on an old Soviet airfield in NE Germany taking place from 26-30 June 2024. It’s attended by over 70,000 people every year and is comparable in size to Burning Man. While some do refer to it as the “Burning Man of Europe,” we stop short with the taglines and offer an honest look into the details.
What’s unusual for a festival of this size, is that there is hardly anything written about it in mainstream English language press. Even more puzzling, there are no official social media accounts. What I can tell you is that Fusion Festival transcends beyond the definition of a party, into an eye-opening experiment of pure underground culture.
More underground music than you know what to do with
On a musical level you can confirm the festival’s musical nature by going to Soundcloud. In searching for “Fusion 2023” sets alone, I’ve unlocked over 600 hours of DJ sets, the majority of artists I’ve never heard of before. There are no short mixes. Some uploads even venture into three-hour deep dives.
There’s techno, tech house and their many derivatives, as well as interpretations and sounds that have no label. My instinct is to go deeper.
I’d first heard about Fusion Festival through artists I’d met at Earth Garden in Malta and it always remained an afterthought. Now, since I’m rediscovering this society of alternative culture and new music there is no turning back. Here’s our findings on this living, breathing institution from the German festival calendar.
“In a collective state of exceptionalism, a carnival of the senses unfolds on an old airfield in Lärz, reflecting the longing for a better world.” – Fusion Festival Website
Where does Fusion Festival take place?
The festival takes place at a former military airport called Müritz Airpark in Lärz, in northeastern Germany. Most people drive, bus or shuttle in from the nearest train station. The closest airport is Berlin Tegel.
A little history about the location
It is the original site of an airfield first used by the German Empire in 1916. During the Third Reich it was an experimental military airbase, until it was captured by the Soviet Army in 1945. The grass-covered concrete bunkers were then used as hangars for Soviet fighter aircraft until the location was reopened for civilian use in 1994.
A year later it was found barren by the organizers, trashed and looted. With its strange history, abandoned military buildings and overgrown fields from years of isolation, it was decided to give the location a new definition.
Who runs Fusion Festival?
Since 1999, the non-profit association Kulturkosmos is the host and organizer of the festival. The original crew of fusion was about ten people, five of which were organizing parties in the 90s. They came across Müritz Airpark in 1995 looking for a place to throw a party.
Today, over 10,000 people are involved to make the festival happen. Most of these are made of up of “Sympathizers” or volunteers. Interested in supporting? Click here to volunteer.
Grassroots to the core
These guys are grassroots to the core. Fusion Festival was a free party turned into a festival concept, the organizers eventually purchasing the land to be reinvested in the name of culture, art and community. A team was brought together with a similar philosophy on what an alternative society would look like.
Curious enough, this is the only music festival I have come across that has openly defines itself on the political spectrum as left wing.
If it’s a non-profit festival, who runs the bars?
According to Fusion’s website, the festival has a fresh approach to serving all attendees:
“Bars on the festival grounds are run by different groups and collectives with a subcultural, left-wing political or artistic background. There is no private profit from the sale of drinks. So, with every drink you buy, you support a solidarity story, a cultural initiative or a left-wing political project.”
What type of music is playing at Fusion Festival?
Societal dynamics aside, from most of the sets I’ve listened to, techno is king here. I found one 2019 review that mentioned 80% of the music was techno and the rest was psy-trance, DnB, reggae, breakbeat and hardcore.
However, judging from the size of the event and the number of artists, it’s quite hard for one person alone to get a general idea of what’s going on at a festival of this size.
What’s the lineup for 2024 look like?
Surprise! The lineup is never announced beforehand. According to Fusion website’s English version, over 3,000 artists take part to make Fusion a “melting pot of extremely diverse music, artistry, theatre and optics.”
The objective here is about random discovery, rather than experiencing half of the festival flooding to one area in an attempt to see a highly anticipated act. What we can do is list a few names of artists that have played at the festival in the past. You will notice a heavy German presence since Fusion is a beloved underground music festival in Germany.
Past artists that have played Fusion Festival
- Dillon Francis
- Acid Arab
- DJ Koze
- Parra for Cuva
- Ben Klock
- Acid Pauli
- Booka Shade
- Robert Babicz
- Stephan Bodzin
- Be Svendson
How did they come up with the name Fusion Festival?
In episode one of their three-part documentary series on the festival, the organizers wanted to move away from the typical trance & techno party scenes of the time. The idea was to move to something more open that would appeal to a broader variety of people.
The word fusion came to mind, as they were fusing everything and everyone together. The organizers weren’t 100% at first, but decided to experiment and have a go at the name. Twenty-five years later it appears to have stuck.
What do people think of Fusion Festival?
After all these years, what do people think of Fusion Festival? Here are a few things redditors have said about their experiences – just a note, do take comments on Reddit with a pinch of salt.
u/superlikemedaddy: “No ads, only veggie food sold by political groups. It’s not about wanting to see the most famous artists although lots play there. It’s more about seeing them coincidentally.”
u/_slightconfusion: “Despite its size Fusion always has been a bit of a DIY festival. Much of it is realized by hard working volunteers/supporters. So don’t expect everything to be perfect.”
u/Glittering-Ship1910: “Lineup only gets announced when you are there. Otherwise, it is not your standard electronic festival. There is a lot of performances to be found, be it theatrical, dance performances (by dance groups, there will probably be a circus, too. It really is more of a “go with the flow”-thing.”
u/atrike: “Really is like smaller festivals, but just more of it, with greater variety in genres and stuff to experience.”
Fusion is not a place for mobile phones
One of the reasons I found little, or no footage of Fusion Festival was likely due to the fact that the use of cell phones for filming is not welcome. Looking at their policy, it’s clear that respect is demanded of the organizers:
“Filming and photographing on the floors annoy us and many of our guests and is therefore not desired. Please respect the desire we all have for a protected and safe space where we can be as we want to be: free, uncontrolled, and above all, unphotographed. No one wants to be recognized on the Instagram pages of strangers.”
From what I can tell, most people stick to the policy.
Buying a ticket for Fusion Festival 2024
Like many festivals that have grown to massive proportions, there are not enough tickets for everyone. Thus, the 70,000 tickets available are raffled out by lottery in two stages, one this month and one in February. If you are still unlucky, Fusion Festival has their own ticket reselling platform called Ticket:Börse between May 2nd and June 28th.
There may be some speculation about the number of tickets available. For example, in 2022, the organizers announced via their newsletter that they were left with a financial deficit of 1.5 to 2 million USD (unsurprising after the COVID-19 years). In their November 2023 newsletter they addressed it with the following:
“To remain financially prudent after the difficult post Corona Fusion in 2022, we sold more tickets in 2023, so that around 10,000 more people were at Fusion than in 2022… our aspiration to enable as many people as possible to experience Fusion will probably play the most important role in our decision on the size of Fusion 2024 so a significant reduction in tickets is not to be expected.”
NB: Kulturkosmos e.V. is the only provider of Fusion festival tickets, so don’t be fooled buying your tickets elsewhere. You can find more information on tickets here.
How much are Fusion Festival tickets?
According to Fusion’s ticketing page, Fusion Festival 2024 tickets cost €220 including tax and €10 trash deposit. Compared with other festivals of this size, this is not a very expensive ticket. Have a look at the ticket prices for the 2024 festival season at the time of writing:
- Roskilde: kr2,400 = approx. €321
- Boomtown Fair: £290-350 + £10 booking fee = approx. €344-413
- Glastonbury: £355 + a £5 booking fee = approx. €413
- Burning Man (2023 price): $575 = approx. €517
Pro tip: Burning Man too damn expensive? Read about the Regional Burns here.
Didn’t make the raffle? Not all is lost.
Here is some positive advice from Fusion’s organizers for those who aren’t able to secure a ticket:
“Buy a ticket from another cool festival that is not sold out yet. Various small and beautiful festivals still have tickets left and have to sell them if they want to survive. And there are a few Fusion Sunday tickets too.”
Best of luck in the raffle!