BERLIN (AP) — The Wacken Open Air heavy metal festival in northern Germany is opening on Wednesday with a reduced audience after persistent rain turned the grounds to mud and forced organizers to order a halt to all new arrivals.

Organizers of the famed music festival in the village of Wacken, in a rural area northwest of Hamburg, had already told fans on Tuesday that no more cars and trucks could be admitted to the site because camping areas, the grounds and access roads were in poor condition because of heavy rain in recent days, and more was expected.

Early Wednesday, they announced a “total admission stop.” In a statement on the festival’s website, they said that “considering the weather conditions, the reasonable visitor capacity for Wacken Open Air 2023 has now been reached.”

It was, they said, the first time since the event was first held in 1990 that they had had to stop admissions — adding that “we are very sad, but the continuing difficult weather situation unfortunately leaves us no other choice.”

A crowd of 85,000 originally was expected at the sold-out event. Police estimated that about 50,000 people made it to the site before admissions were halted and about half of the rain-soaked camping site was occupied, German news agency dpa reported. Traffic jams in the area had largely dissolved by Wednesday morning after many fans turned back or sought alternative camping sites.

Bands expected to perform at the event running through Saturday include Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Helloween.