Exit Festival 2012, Serbia
When I think of Eastern Europe the first thing that used to come to my mind was the film ‘Hostel’ you know the one where they are hunting back packers instead of game animals. So when a friend suggested we go to Serbia last year to Exit festival, needless to say, I was a little wary.
Exit started life, in 2001, as student project to protest against the Milosevic regime. It’s grown a little bit since then and at the last count had over 1 billion visitors from around 60 countries. The festival is situated in the famous Petrovaradin fortress high on a hill overlooking the Danube River and the city of Nova Sad. You couldn’t dream up a more beautiful setting for a festival; literally translating as ‘castle on a rock’. As you wander over the huge bridge across the Danube and through the streets of tiny bars towards the festival the excitement starts to build. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a hike up to the fortress but there’s always plenty to keep you entertained.
You wouldn’t think that a venue like this would work but the levels and the acoustics means at music can be played on various stages across the site without the dreaded sound clash! The dance arena is something else; sitting low down in what must have been a huge moat it’s a raver’s acoustics dream. You wouldn’t even know the arena was there but once you are in there you are unlikely to leave till sunrise.
The festival doesn’t start till the late evening. I was a little surprised by this but it soon became apparent why – it was so damn hot during the day! The city of Novi Sad is the second biggest city in Serbia and is buzzing during the day with an array of cafes and bars to relax in. The locals all head down to the river and for a few euros you can go to the beach. Well I say beach, it’s man-made so basically sand next to the Danube with bars and restaurants. It’s still pretty cool to hang out there during the day though and very popular.
One top tip for festival goers, without sounding like a Grandma, is wear sturdy footwear. I’m not really one for trainers but I never had my Adidas high tops off. The ground underfoot is hard going in flip flops especially as the booze is so cheap.
This year’s line-up couldn’t be better with, my personal favourite, New Order headlining – ok it will be minus Hooky but I’m still genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing them in such an amazing setting. Along with this, Guns and Roses shouldn’t be too shabby… if Axel isn’t being a dramaqueen!
The dance arena has all the usual suspects, Brodinski, Richie Hawtin, Luciano, Laurent Garnier, Skream Feat Sgt Poker and Jacques Lu Cont the list goes on and on… you get the idea!
What I like most about Exit is the variation of music on such a small site. It caters for larger groups of friends with variant tastes in music, so they can all go to the festival listen to their genre of music but still meet up while they are there.
I can safely say that Exit has won my heart and now holds the place in my heart for favourite European festival.
Exit Festival 12-15 July
Novi Sad, Serbia