MS Dockville Festival: Your Ultimate Guide

If you’re thinking about going to this Hamburg music festival but want to know more, my guide to MS Dockville Festival has all the important info based on my time there.

What to do at MS Dockville Festival

I had an amazing time when I went to MS Dockville Festival in Hamburg. If I had to sum it up in one word: cool. It sounds like a cop out, maybe even a little bit lazy, but it was without a doubt one of the ‘coolest’ festivals I’ve been to.

Hipsters galore. Art installations. An awesome and eclectic line up as always – I’ve even been lucky enough to see my fave James Vincent McMorrow. A unique food line up. Excellent fodder for people watching. Unique spaces. Chilled atmosphere. Just, cool.

2023 has been the festival’s sweet 16th birthday. Since 2007 MS Dockville festival has been running in Wilhelmsburg – an area known for its industrial feel, with waterside warehouses and docklands architecture all around.

Over 25,000 attend each year, helping the festival to raise money for arts camps nearby. In such an arty city, you know this arty festival is bound to succeed. And it’s not just the main event. Before MS Dockville festival, MS Artsville runs in the city, helping artists to bring their work to the people. Some of the art installations and pieces are then shown off at Dockville festival, adding to the cool vibe.

MS Dockville festival backstage pass

I had a backstage pass to for MS Dockville, although we didn’t really make the most of it. Somehow, on the first night, we (Yaya and Lloyd from Hand Luggage Only) and I managed to blag ourselves into a VIP section which looked out over the main stage, and had a free beer tap. I know. We made friends with the other people up there, had a good old chinwag and just kept drinking the beers as they flowed. Brilliant night at MS Dockville festival.

MS Dockville Festival Main stage

The second night, I went with different friends, and they denied all knowledge of letting us in the night before. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

It was ok though, because instead we went backstage and stood about two metres away from the lead singer of Glass Animals, Dave Bayley. He was absolutely drenched, as was I. Not really the time to say hello, but I’m sure he would’ve otherwise.

I also went in the pit for a bit, while Flume was playing, until we got chucked out as you’re only meant to be in there for the first three songs. I totally knew that…

Your Guide to MS Dockville Festival

What’s on stage

The music was an eclectic line up of local and international bands. Unfortunately I only knew about 5 acts, but fortunately that meant that I was presented with a great opportunity to get to know some more bands on the scene.

Know to me: James Vincent McMorrow, Flume, Sohn, Moderat, Oh Wonder, Sohn and Glass Animals

MS Dockville Festival Line Up

I’m a bit out of practice with my minimal techno, electro, rad electro and hip hop but as I took myself on a little tour of the festival ground I could hear that there was all kinds of different music and artists playing. There were stages big enough for around 20 people, up the thousands at the main stage and everything in between. I love a good small stage at a festival – means you can get to know your fellow festival goers and get in the moment.

MS Dockville Festival

The Main Stage had a small enough crowd to not need screens at the side, but big enough to have a good atmosphere. After the effort of when I went to Glastonbury, I’m all about these smaller festivals. Although, as we’d arrived pretty late on the first day, and then got stuck at the free bar, it wasn’t until the next night that I realised quite how big the MS Dockville festival site was.

What to eat at MS Dockville festival

The cheeseburger I had at MS Dockville festival was absolutely sensational. Honestly, wanted to go back and get another one. Would’ve done if it was more socially acceptable. It had been chucking it down with rain, I was drenched, cold, and had lost my friends in the rush to seek cover. But that cheeseburger cheered me right up. I savoured every mouthful while watching the rainbow brighten, and eventually fade.

What to eat at MS Dockville festival

I also tried the Handbrot. I saw a queue, and joined it. How very British of me. I actually ended up queueing for 25 minutes for a slice of this. If I’d just had a dab of hot sauce, or maybe an anchovy, it would’ve been worth it. Apparently this is super popular festival food in Germany. If I had the energy I’d totally bring it to the UK. Cheesey, bready and with a few bites of ham, the oozing bread warmed me from the inside. Apparently it’s popular at Christmas Markets too so keep an eye out for it if you’re heading over to Germany this winter.

There were also fries stands, pies stands, pizza, Asian, vegan, and of course, those oh so German wursts.

What to drink at MS Dockville festival

I presume in an effort to combat the inevitable waste from festivals MS Dockville charged €1 for a cup, which you got back when you returned.

What to drink at MS Dockville festival

Trouble was you had to return it to the same kind of stand – so the beer glasses to the beer stalls, the cider to the ones serving cider, and the cocktail glasses to the cocktail stands. It was annoying at first, mainly because the mud made it difficult to get around, but it’s for the planet, so you got to do it.

What to take to MS Dockville festival

There were a lot of wellies around at MS Dockville when I was last there, it was a rainy muddy one. I had totally packed little sliders and only added my Vans trainers at the last minute. Thank God I did.

The ground was so slippy, some people had just got rid of their shoes all together – although I don’t know if it was on purpose or not.

Cool area at the MS Dockville Festival

It’s not my proudest moment but it was pretty funny when we realised we were stood at the bottom of a hill and our fellow festival goers were sliding down it, arse first, spilling their pints. It was only when an 8-year-old ish boy came out with a torch on his head and stood there that they could see where they were going. He did kind of spoil our fun to be honest, but at least we saw that girl in her white jeans face palm.

So yeah, bring sensible shoes.

It was a pretty chilled festival as far as the general uniform, although that could be because it was mostly jeans and raincoats.

And don’t forget the glitter! I’ve been to European festivals before and it was like everyone was too cool to get involved with a glitter face, but there were plenty of glitter cheeks running around here.

What else is there to do at MS Dockville festival?

In this guide to MS Dockville I’ve covered food, drink, what to take, the line up, and now – what else is there to do?

Guide to MS Dockville festival

There are lots of little shops selling jewellery, bags and clothes. Make sure you save some from your beers to splash on cool stuff. There was a poetry stage, an interview stage for new bands, sing songwriters and producers, and Chanel were randomly there giving out lollipops too, which was weird. You could wander round the art installations, relax on the picnic benches or check out the food area.

Where to stay for MS Dockville festival 

The great thing about city festivals, in my ageing opinion, is the fact that you can stay in a hotel, in the city, rather than lugging all your stuff for hours (Glastonbury-style) into the festival. I stayed at the Motel One Hotel on Steindhamm. This was about 30 minutes from the festival in a taxi or an hour’s walk and public transport.

Accommodation for MS Dockville festival

It was a really nice and comfortable hotel, with an incredible breakfast. I stayed in a Motel One Hotel in Edinburgh when I went to Hogmanay, and they’re definitely made to a blueprint. Literally. As the hotel is blue inside and out.

Anyway, it was well located for the city as well as the festival so I’d definitely recommend it.

Camping at Dockville festival

You can camp at the festival too. When buying your Dockville festival tickets you can either purchase ones that include camping or not. The tickets without the camping included are slightly cheaper but of course you will then need to find your own accommodation.

When I went to MS Dockville last, it was bit of a soggy one for camping so just bear that in mind! You may think it adds to the fun. It’s good to know that the festival is commutable by public transport of you decide to stay elsewhere though.

Top Tips for a festival checklist

Whether you’ve never been to a festival before or just like the ease of having some quick tips to glance at, here are some of the essentials to pack for a festival.

• Sunscreen (even in overcast weather you can get burned!)

• Sunglasses and sun hats (look great while making sure you don’t get sun stroke!)

• Waterproof clothing; lightweight and easily packable jackets or even a festival favourite – the poncho!

• Toilet paper, wet wipes, hand sanitiser. (Small and easy to pack yet they could prove to be a God send if you find yourself needing any of these whilst you’re there!)

• Medications you may need. You want to ensure you have stress-free fun at Dockville festival so don’t forget to bring any vital medications with you.

• Portable charger. It’s almost inevitable that you will run out of battery on your phone if you’re out all day and using it a lot. A portable charger can make sure that you can always capture the moments you want to save and share (and also make sure you can contact your friends if you lose them!)

• Have fun! You didn’t travel all that way to go to the festival to do anything but have the time of your life! In my exeprience festivals are generally well organised and filled with like-minded friendly, welcoming, helpful people.

Where is the Dockville festival?

MS Dockville festival is held in Wilhelmsberg, on Europe’s biggest river island, in Hamburg.

When is MS Dockville?

Dockville festival takes place every year in mid-to-late August with an eclectic line-up of famous international artists and local acts.

What genre of music is on offer at MS Dockville festival?

Dockville festival Hamburg is both a music and arts festival; thus it welcomes a wide variety of music. Indie, pop, electronic and hip-hop are the genres that are most represented.

Where can I get tickets for Dockville festival?

The best place to buy tickets to MS Dockville festival is from their official website’s ticket shop at . You can buy tickets that include camping or without camping. It is a little cheaper without camping however you then have to source your own place to stay remember!

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