20 years of the lunatic festival: A seminar with a difference

2024-05-13 In 2004, students brought the Music, Art and Culture Open Air to campus for the first time. Now the countdown is on for the anniversary edition: on May 31 and June 1, 2024, there will once again be bands, performances and artists at Leuphana. Business Administration student Jorina Happke is part of the 20-strong preparatory team, which deals with sustainable event organization as part of the college's complementary studies.

lunatic Festival 2021 ©Leuphana/Pascal Heinrich
sunset during lunatic Festival ©Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Lüneburg University, 2003, shortly before the semester break: Thore Debor posts a notice on the notice board: "Who would like to organize a pop music festival on campus?" When the Applied Cultural Studies student looks at the list after the vacations, he reads over 25 names: "We wanted to bring more practical experience into the course. There was little on offer in the field of cultural organization related to pop music," he recalls.

The idea was not only well received by students. There was also support from the professors: "The student seminar started in 2003 and students were able to write their final theses on festival organization," recalls Thore Debor. On June 17, 2004, the lunatic festival celebrated its premiere on the former Vamos parking lot. "We taught ourselves everything and wanted to learn from practical experience," says the Hanover native.

Since then, around 20 students have organized the non-profit open-air festival every year. The lunatic festival has only been canceled a few times, for example due to the coronavirus pandemic. What makes it special: Different students organize the festival every year. They are supported in terms of content by a seminar in the complementary studies program at Leuphana College. Former Lunauts pass on their knowledge and experience to the new ones. Thore Debor was also a lecturer himself.

Booking bands, planning catering, creating a security concept

22-year-old Jorina Happke is part of the lunatic team this year. The business administration student sees the campus festival as a "unique opportunity": "It's not a traditional seminar. We meet every week for four hours for a team meeting. I also have meetings with our four-person PR team," she reports. The 20 or so seminar participants organize the festival entirely themselves. They book bands and artists, plan catering stands, the security concept and expenses. Jorina Happke is responsible for press relations and cooperations, among other things: "Everyone puts a lot of time into organizing lunatics."

Jorina Happke likes the work and the team spirit: "We learn a lot about non-violent communication and make decisions by consensus." Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are central building blocks of the festival.

In addition to art and culture, the two-week program also includes music acts such as the Mannheim unicorn rock band "ok.danke.tschüss" and German rapper Pöbel MC. The festival also gives FLINTA* people and local artists in particular a stage. Many bands and artists who have performed at lunatic in previous years have gone on to become even bigger, such as Madsen, Clueso & Band or MIA.

Tickets for this year's festival are still available as combined tickets for both days as well as day tickets. Thore Debor will also be celebrating again. He is one of the many Lunauts who later gained a professional foothold in the cultural scene thanks to their experiences at the lunatic festival and the accompanying seminar. The alumnus is the managing director of Clubkombinat Hamburg and an honorary spokesperson for the LiveKomm AG Kulturraumschutz. Twenty years ago, he could never have imagined the success of the lunatic festival. For him, the open-air festival is above all: "A cultural pearl on campus in and for the city and region of Lüneburg."

Tickets for the lunatic:

Combo tickets for 79 euros, day tickets on Friday for 39 and Saturday 49 euros plus ticket store fees and free children's tickets up to and including 12 years of age.


From left to right: Founder of lunatic: Thore Debor, Jorina Happke with her PR team, impressions from 2022

[Translate to Englisch:] Thore Debor ©Mike Schäfer
[Translate to Englisch:] lunatic 2024 PRteam ©Jorina Happke
Artist at the lunatic 2022 ©Leuphana/Felix Konerding