Why Croatia is our Music Festival Holiday Destination of choice

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Croatia has some of the best summer festivals on offer anywhere in the world… Fact. From late May to September you can’t see for ridiculous line ups, chilled out crowds, well organised shindigs and locations that will make you clutch your heart, gasp for breath and swoon like a 14 year old at a One Direction concert.

The country of Croatia nestles along the coast of the beautiful Adriatic Sea, famous for its azure crystal-clear waters, deserted islands, pine-filled forests, sun-kissed beaches and miles of unblemished coastline. The sun always shines (on a visit there myself I recall my partner joking that the one cloud he’d seen in the sky the whole week, ruined his holiday), the food is amazing, accommodation is varied and the ultimate pull in these grey financial times, its extremely cheap when compared to Ibiza or Miami – and that goes for flights too… There are numerous budget airlines flying to several airport locations.


At the risk of starting on an Ibiza bashing (oh go on then…) compare the cheap booze joy of Croatia to the €15/20 a beer squeaky bum horrors of Ibiza, and its not hard to do the maths! These days expense isn’t the only reason to think about having your “clubbing” holiday somewhere else other than Ibiza. Paris Hilton hosting a residence at Amnesia, kids gurning off their faces to EDM. The White Isle has long been slipping down the commercial slide and is making no signs of coming back. Croatia on the other hand, is a destination that works with much smaller promoters – this means they can react to movements in the underground and move quickly when there are changes in the scene. Its not hard to see why the Croatia is becoming the number one choice for the true fans of underground music.

“You don’t get outdoor music any more after 11pm in Ibiza,” says Mark Newton, founder of the Hideout and Unknown festivals. “The terraces at Space and Amnesia now have roofs, whereas you can party under the stars in Croatia.” events such as The Garden Festival, meanwhile, preserve the original spirit of Ibiza, where DJs would play Phil Collins and Fleetwood Mac alongside new house records. “You think: How are they getting away with Thin Lizzy?” says Eddie (ones of the founders of Garden), “but it’s absolutely perfect.”.

IMG_6973        Stop Making Sense @ The Garden, Tisno, Croatia 2-6 Aug 2012

The other difference with Croatia compared to other holiday destinations is the authorities WANT you there. Too often we spend our gold dust like annual leave to go to places where, let’s face it. We are treated like lepers… On the flipside Croatian authorities have welcomed these tourism-boosting events and Croatian people embrace promoters which makes it easier to create something sustainable. “We have very good relations with all current promoters,” affirms Ivan Dabo, mayor of Novalja, whose jurisdiction takes in Hideout and Barrakud. “The young people who come are excellent guests, money made largely remains in the cities and villages, and we truly believe visitors will recognise what we have to offer and return one day with their families.” If you take a trip for a festival there is so much else to see in the rest of the country… We strongly advise going for a festival but them spending the rest of your holiday flitting round different parts of the country (recovering on a deserted white beach has got to be better than the post festival blues at home no?) its such a beautiful un-touched place that it a shame to be a bit “egg and chips” tourist about it and not go exploring.  Quiet medieval villages, bustling towns, beautiful Split and its Roman fortress (and good shopping!), National parks with sights you never thought possible to see in Europe… Don’t even get us started on the restaurants!!

croatia_beach_414681     Bol_Ivo-Pervan

There is such vast choice when it comes to festivals on this almost Utopian location, that the only problem we can see is which one to choose?! There are festivals on beaches, desert islands, in old forts, this is before we even get to the boat parties and after-parties! I guess this “summer” in the UK you can spend your time and money squelching your way through an overpriced 2 day welly wearing experience (whilst also wading your way through the influx of tango-ed TOWIE-alike attendees) or read our rundown of the main electronic based players from now until September and get those suitcases packed!

*photo credits to: Anomalous Visuals

We also have a pairs of tickets for Sonus, Stop Making Sense and Dimensions Festival to give away to a lucky few… To enter click the links for more info:

Sonus Festival Competition

Dimensions Festival Competition

SMS Festival Competition


Our rundown of the best Croatian Festivals of 2013 (in date order):

Hideout Festival

Novalja, island of Pag, 3rd – 5th July 2013

Hideout Festival is now in its third glorious year and takes place on the picturesque beachside location of the Island of Pag, surrounded by a stunning mountainous backdrop. Hideout regulars are from around the World and return year after year for their electronic festival experience (the festival sold out in 2011, 2012 and they have just put the “sold out” signs on their site this year too!)

Four outdoor venues, views directly over the sea, pool parties (in their 2 outdoor swimming pools), events on the beach, numerous daily boat parties, art installations and artists performing from sunrise to sunset.. This is before we even get to the line-up that feature names such as: Chase & Status, Four Tet, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Marco Carola, Rudimental, Seth Troxler, Skream & Benga, Ben Ufo, Cassy, Claude Von Stroke, Simian Mobile Disco, Soul Clap and Tensnake.

More info: www.hideoutfestival.com


Garden Festival

Tisno, 3rd – 10th July 2013

Garden Festival is the Grandaddy of Croatian music festivals and in its very much deserved eighth year. The organisers of Garden are the sole reason that this beautiful country is now a mecca for underground clubbers today. In 2005 UK Promoter Nick Colgan went on holiday to the Dalmatian coast and fell in love with it. Within 10 days he’d bought nightclub “The Garden” in Zadar and began moving his family out there. They started Garden Festival, held in the coastal village of Petrcane. In 2006 – beginning with about 300 people, they now cap the event at 2,500 to preserve its intimacy. This “word of mouth” style promotion is the reason this festival will run on and on, and the reason the crowd at Garden remains some of the best on the festival scene. The festival moved from Petrcane to a new space in Tisno last year – its a dramatic natural amphitheatre; which overlooks a beautiful sandy bay with crystal clear water and islands on the horizon.

Music wise there is something for everyone.. Live bands and DJs from all aspects of dance music culture have been to play and party. They have 3 main arenas: The terrace hosting the main live stage, Tiki Bar (also with its own dance floor terrace overlooking the sea) and then there is Barbarella’s Discotheque for the after-parties – this one a reason to go to the festival in itself! As a special treat the legendary Argonaughty Boat Parties set sail twice daily for more fun and frolics on the open sea. Everyone gets a chance to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings and, without the usual hordes, it’s easy to find old friends and to make new ones.

The Garden Festival 2012 from Chris Leete on Vimeo.

More info: www.thegardenfestival.eu


Electric Elephant

Tisno, 11th – 15th July 2013

Following on from Garden – quite a few revellers choose to book a couple of weeks off and do both festivals by attending the Garden Festival and then Electric Elephant directly afterwards! More than just a festival, people treat a trip to Electric Elephant as a holiday or a getaway.

Like Garden, Electric Elephant Festival takes place in the stunning surroundings of The Garden Tisno. An undiscovered, secluded paradise with private sandy bay, just a short walk from the beautiful town of Tisno. The Garden Tisno has its very own on-site accommodation, featuring apartments, as well as Indian Shikar tents and pitches for people bringing their own tents. Revellers come to laze the day away on the beach or swim in the sun-sparkled Adriatic sea whilst the DJ’s provide the perfect Balearic soundtrack in the daytime. Then as the sun sets, the tempo rises and the dancefloors of the Main Stage & Beach Bar come alive. DJs this year include: Carl Craig, Frankie Knuckles, Mr Scruff, Horse Meat Disco, Miguel Campbell, Unabombers and many more.

More info: www.electricelephant.co.uk


Soundwave Festival Croatia

Tisno, 18th – 22nd July 2013

Heading into its fifth year which is set to be the best yet, this 3 day live music event (that also includes 5 days of side parties – including the infamous boat parties this year featuring a full-on brass band on board!) also resides at the beautiful Garden Tisno.

Soundwave has curated an amazing lineup yet again (seeing the likes of: Bonobo, DOOM, DJ Shadow, Robert Glasper Experiment, Quantic’s Ondatropica, DJ Yoda, Lapalux, Hiatus Kaiyote, DJ Yoda, Ninja Tune, Tru Thoughts, DOP and many many MANY more on the roster) and is a popular choice for those who enjoy Electronica, jazz, dub, and reggae with a bit of hiphop on the side. The atmosphere and crowd at Soundwave is renowned for being electric and the surroundings many describe as magical – with the the trees all light up at night on a wooden peninsula you can only imagine! But don’t take our word for it Roots Manuva says “Soundwave Festival – one of the greatest festivals in the world” and from the Guardian “All the quirks of Bestival but in a far more beautiful and sunny setting”. All this for a price that only just pushes past the £100 mark.

Soundwave follows on from Electric Elephant (which follows Garden) so why not take a weeks off and do all 3?! (we’re only half joking)

SOUNDWAVE CROATIA 2012 from Jack Whiteley on Vimeo.

Website: www.soundwavecroatia.com



Tisno, 24th – 30th July 2013

Curated by the people behind the Southport Weekender. This year the fourth edition of SunceBeat has been extended into a prime, week-long event. All happening at this shimmering, secluded bay the artists come to share their sounds on a beach terrace armed with a heavy-hitting Funktion One sound system and a nearby outdoor nightclub where you can dance under the stars until dawn. Suncebeat also takes advantage of the brilliant Argonaughty sailing boat, bringing you sunset trips close to the wonderful Kornati Islands.

This summer, they’ve once again invited some of the world’s finest DJs including Moodyman, Mark Farina, Derrick Carter, Giles Peterson, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Osunlade, Kerri Chandler, Kenny Dope and many more

More info: www.suncebeat.com


Stop Making Sense Festival

Tisno, 1st – 4th August 2013

Stop Making Sense once again closes the famous ‘Garden’ site in Tisno. Ending the season in this location in they way only they know how. The Garden is set in a gently hilly area which overlooks a private bay with a shimmering sandy beach and crystal clear waters. Its a location which Time Out called “The summers most beautiful site”. This year Stop Making Sense brings its biggest lineup yet. Showcasing many types of electronic music from Techno to Jazz and African infused disco.

Although placed in the same location as its similar festival counterparts Stop Making Sense has a more Independent feel (SMS maintains a capacity limit of only 2,000) it feels somehow very different to the rest of the Croatian festival circuit . The crowd are “proper” music lovers as it were, and all this helps to create a relaxed but exciting vibe. People come here not just for the festival but to treat it as a getaway in its own right. All the music takes place on the beach venue, but there is of course after-partes at Barbarella’s open-air club. And the obligatory famous boat parties. This year the lineup sees acts such as Âme & Dixon, Steve Bug, Lindstrøm, Radio Slave and brands such as: Electric minds, Trouble Vision, Warm, Love Feverr, CRACK Magazine and FACT all getting in on the action.

We have a pair of tickets to give away to you lucky people.. Follow the link HERE for more info

Stop Making Sense 2013 Promo from Anomalous Visuals on Vimeo.

More info: stopmakingsense.eu


Sonus Festival

Novalja, island of Pag, 21st – 25th August 2013

There’s a brand new kid in town! This year sees new Festival Brand “SONUS” in Croatia. Exciting news enough – but more excitingly it will be brought to you by the same people who brought the world ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Love Family Park’. This stroke of brilliance will be held on the island of Pag – the same location as the famous Hideout festival. Set on the infamous Zrce Beach right in the heart of the Island. Festival lovers will be treated to 5 days and 4 nights of non-stop, pure class electronic music, in all its glorious forms and surroundings.

There will be dynamic shows from some of the most celebrated DJs and labels, Sonus Festival sets itself across two clubs – Papaya & Kalypso, as well as numerous beautiful beach locations and boat parties. Now, down to the lineups..! The likes of Nick Curly, Chris Liebing, Joseph Capriati, Pan-Pot, Loco Dice, DJ Sneak, Guti, Cassy, Davide Squillace, Magda, Dorian Paic, Seth Troxler, Matthias Tanzmann appear on this dream beach location! And wait.. We haven’t finished – there is also Luciano, Onur Oezer, Dorian Paic and Ricardo Villalobos –  this is to name just a few! (we’d be here all night if we carried on!)

On top of all this, are the infamous Croatian boat parties, which will run all week, featuring parties from Time Warp & Sonus, Fuse UK, Wet Yourself Ibiza and Cadenza. The last night’s antics are being kept under wraps for now, but with the after party being the chance for all visitors to bid farewell to new found friends and conclude together the best long weekend of their lives, be sure it will be nothing short of special.
We have a pair of tickets to give away to you lucky people.. Follow the link HERE for more info

More info: www.sonus-festival.com

Outlook Festival

Pula, 29th August – 2nd September 2013

Ever been to a festival in a beautiful old fort? No? Here’s your chance! Located in an abandoned 18th century castle this four day Bass focused festival includes beach and boat parties as well as an extensive line up of Dub, Hip Hop, Reggae, Drum & Bass, Grime and Electronica acts.

Outlook is a unique experience with a dedicated cult following of Bass lovers and a strong line up. This year there will also be a Festival Opening Concert prior to the event at the Roman Amphitheatre. The Original Wailers will be performing music from the legendary album “Exodus”, and festival guest DJ’s will be performing “the roots of Soundsystem Culture”.

Outlook has been described as ‘the freshest, most musically progressive festival on the circuit.’ It’s a party in a fort right on the sea, a place where hurling yourself into waves of dancehall anthems can be followed by waves of warm sea as you jump from its vibrating rocks. It’s also an event inspired by and fueled by humans deep love of bass.

Website: www.outlookfestival.com


Dimensions Festival

Pula, 5­th – 9th September 2013 ­

Dimensions is a relative new comer on Croatia’s festival scene. Now its second year, it gathered critical acclaim in 2012 for having the most forward thinking underground electronic music line-up around. The little sister of Outlook (see above), its is held in the same ridiculously awe inspiring Fort Punta Christo venue. Set against a backdrop of the stunning region of Istria in Croatia, Fort Punta Christo is a 19th Century Fort which for the duration of the festival, possesses an artillery of sound systems (the best out of any other festival of its size) in the multiple arenas, plus 30 Degree beaches and boat parties.

Whilst Outlook has been (in)famous for its exuberant, young British crowd; Dimensions, has more of an older and European feel and that is testament to the “crate-digger esq” lineups which this year include: Model 500 (pseudonym of Techno pioneer Juan Atkins), Cuban sounds with Tony Allen, and Mala, Detroit House and Techno stalwart Moodymann, Theo Parrish, Omar S., Benji B, liquid drum ‘n’ bass purveyor Marcus Intalex, Swamp 81 chief Loefah and Nonplus record label boss Boddika. To name but a few.

Daytime is all about chilled beats on the beach or partaking in the daily boat parties and then come night-time its time to get your skank on to the finest in techno, house, deep dubstep, drum & bass and all that goes in between.

We have a pair of tickets to give away to you lucky people.. Follow the link HERE for more info

More info: www.dimensionsfestival.com/


Unknown Festival

Rovinj, 10th – 14th September 2013

Unknown sees off the 2013 season in Croatia in style this year. A brand spanking new festival for 2013, this one’s got some big names on the bill…and behind it. The promoters behind Hideout Festival, The Warehouse Project and Field Day join forces to being you something very special. Happening in another beautiful sun-kissed coastline – Rovinj in North Croatia.

The debut event celebrates the last days of summer in the hedonistic and immersive party paradise Croatia has gained a reputation for. “It’s a beautiful place – you can swim, lie in the sun and see your favourite bands and DJs in a delightful holiday environment,” say the organisers “It’s not far from the UK or other European cities… The music policy is very different to everything, our event has a really good balance of band and DJ-based talent, with both electronic and live acts performing.” Label partners involved with the festival range from Berlin-based house connoisseurs Innervisions, Michael Mayer and his Kompact label from Cologne and Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label, There will be live shows from Actress, Clean Bandit, Disclosure and Django Django to DJ sets from prominent DJs such as DJ Koze, Floating Points, Jamie XX and Richie Hawtin. If this wasn;t enough brands such as Secretsundaze, Bugged Out, Drop the Mustard, Mono Cult and Zutekh are also joining in on proceedings. We watch this newbie with interest.

Website: www.unknowncroatia.com