These days, UK festivals just never seem to quite cut it, do they? The prices of tickets are significantly increasing each year, not to mention the cost of food and alcohol when you’re there! So there’s no wonder many of us are travelling to European cities for a more unique festival experience for almost the same amount of money.
For myself, Exit Festival was high on my bucket list, and I was ecstatic that the combined ticket (£89) and flight price came to the same amount as one Leeds Festival ticket (in 2011).
Exit Festival is like no other. Held annually for four days in Novi Sad, in the unique Petrovaradin Fortress by the banks of the River Danube, it plays host to an eclectic mix of people from party-goers to rockers within a fairytale setting. What began in 2000 as a student protest against the government following the war in Yugoslavia, Exit Festival has since grown and developed into a favourite European music festival.
Beginning at 7pm, the party begins as the Balkan sun lowers its head, offering incredible sunsets over the Danube. The crowds are large and the weather, even during the night, is hot! So no matter how drunk you want to be, it is important to stay hydrated. If not, you may pass out, as I did during Jamiroquai’s performance, and wake up in one of the medical tents. (Yep, that was me).
Featuring over 20 stages all connected by a number of cobbled streets, bridges and tunnels within the fortress, it provides music and entertainment to suit every type of visitor. The dance stage, considered to be the best dance stage in the whole of Europe, is set within a moat of the fortress and the energy here is insane! Truly one of the biggest adrenaline rushes of my life. The main stage, with a capacity of over 30,000 is set against the beautiful natural backdrop. As the sun rises, the people spill out in their thousands heading back to their hostels or wherever it is they’re staying. There are a number of restaurants and bars, which are open on the streets by then so if you fancy an early morning post-festival pizza, you’re in luck.
We stayed in a hostel named Brankovo Kolo, which was only a ten-minute walk from the entrance of the fortress, and it was pretty cheap, nicely-located near the beach and shops, and featured a large sociable courtyard where we met a number of people for pre-festival drinking activities. However, there are a number of other reasonably-priced hostels which don’t always get booked up. If you can handle it, you can also camp in Exit Village, which is supposed to be a lively party area where thousands of people stay. You can camp here for ten days for a really cheap price, but due to the heat and wanting to be able to sleep in an actual bed, we opted for the hostel.
If you’re looking for a unique, affordable festival experience within a beautiful setting, offering cheap drink and food, and an incredibly high energy, then Exit Festival is perfect! I cannot recommend this festival more highly. A truly magical experience.
A few of my favourite acts that year included Portishead, Pulp, Editors, Digitalism, Arcade Fire and Santigold.
– Food & Drink in the fortress work on a coupon-coin basis; you have to exchange your money for coins. For example, 2 silver coins buys one beer.
– Go and swap your ticket for a wristband EARLY. Try and go in the morning. We went in the afternoon, and due to the long, slow-moving queue we were out in the hot sun, burning for a couple of hours.
The walk home:
Apologies for attrocious photos – I lost the bag with my camera and hard drive in so all my beloved photos were gone except for a few facebook uploads.