With this year’s edition of Whole Festival, the 3 day event showed its strength in unifying queer communities across Europe. As around 8,000 attendees made their way to the famed Ferropolis festival site, different individuals intermingled in an envisioned utopia. This number is significant due to the event being so focused in its mission. By comparison, Melt Festival, with a broader scope, estimates around 20,000 festival goers, and saw roughly 14,000 people this year.
Making this more impressive is that Whole Festival is independently organized, and prioritizes its community. With this, the fact that the festival continues to grow is a huge success. In a 2019 article, Andy of iheartberlin wrote, “As I walk over the festival grounds, surrounded by an energetic feeling of liberation and acceptance, I can see and feel this difference.” This magic is still embodied, four years later.
Whole Festival experience
Since the festival started, it’s grown to take over the entire Ferropolis site. That said, many amenities could be found including food stands from local restaurants, camping options, and easy shuttle access to Berlin. In addition, space was made for different members of the queer community, including a FLINTA stage and Pillow Palace, BIPOC hangout, and Chillout area. Adding to an inclusive culture is openness to community feedback.
The performance stage hosted a diverse lineup including Cakes da Killa, House of Living Colors, Dornika, Bushwig, Berlin Strippers Collective, and Black Sex Workers Collective. There was also unique programming at the FLINTA stage, like Alizée. If a recharge was necessary, massages, yoga sessions, and care-driven workshops took place. Of course, the main event was the outdoor rave parties happening at the Beach, Crane, Arena, and Antenna stages – giving the freedom to dance all weekend.
In an environment where everything is on the table, Whole Festival confronts its audience to make their own queer experience. It provides an open setting where individuals can choose what experience they’d like. As a contrast to the “real world,” where there’s limitations, the spirit of Whole Festival forces the queer community to find new comfort zones. It’s a reminder of the sense of belonging that’s not always found, and how that’s a fundamental right for everyone. The organizers make this possible through careful planning and reminders that consent is key.