random ramblings of an unconscious mind

Belgrade – Exit Festival review

So for the past week i took a trip to Belgrade, with friends and family, and visited the Exit Festival.

Having been to Belgrade a few times before, i was no stranger to the area, knew that there were good places to eat, or that the taxi drivers will try to convince you to pay double fares since you are a tourist and do not speak the language (this aspect is very disappointing). I have previously visited the beautiful castle, market streets, malls, bombed buildings, the river etc. Where i had not gone and was amazed by it, was Ada Ciganlija, a river island artificially created into a peninsula at Savas river, which provides  mass recreation, swimming, rowing, kayaking, water polo, diving, wind-surfing, golf course, cable-ski circuit. There are football pitches, tennis courts, handball, volleyball and basketball courts, as well as baseball, rugby and hockey pitches. There are also beach volleyball courts and inflatable water soccer pitches, and facilities for the extreme sports of bungee-jumping, wall-climbing and paintball. There are also numerous cafes, clubs and restaurants creating a maritime atmosphere in the summer months.

Mainly i felt like this was the Central Park of Belgrade, providing numerous activities for the public.

Besides this ideal location, we had a private boat trip down the Danube, during sunset, which was so relaxing, you could feel your worries dissolving during the ride.

Each day we travelled back and forth to Exit Festival, one of the greatest international music festivals, taking place in Novi Sad, an hour ride away from Belgrade. I must confess it would be wiser and cheaper if we had stayed in Novi Sad throughout the duration of the festival. We had free camping tickets, but decided to spend the days in Belgrade and our nights in Novi Sad. Next time we will not repeat this infraction.

The story goes thus: When i got the tickets for the festival there was a discount package offer for 4+1 people, which rounded up to approximately € 50 each for a four-day ticket, plus free tickets to the camping area. This was a great deal to pass over, since in 2011 i wanted to go to the festival which featured a line-up including Arcade Fire, Portishead, Santigold, Pulp, Jamiroquai, Editors, MIA, Underworld and Beirut. However, when the line-up was announced in 2012 i was not impressed. It is the story of my life, when i decide to go to something i have been wanting to for many years, it takes a turn to the worst. However, despite the fact that the headliners were not something i would normally pursue (Guns n Roses, Duran Duran, New Order, Gossip, Hercules and Love Affair etc) the festival on its own was a reward enough to compensate the initial let down.

It is held at the wonderful castle of Novi Sad, and it had anything any visitor could ask at festival of its size. Let me underline at this point, that you required an hour and a half to simply walk through the whole festival/castle, since it included about 20 stages, ranging from reggae to dance, to metal, silent disco, peep show cinema, latin etc. I believe that there it is where the success of the festival resides, it caters to the needs of everyone. If you do not like a stage you just move onto the next! The castles trenches were turned into stages. There was a wide variety of food from Souvlaki, to KFC, pizza and snacks, to crepes, pop corn and vegetarian food. I was amazed by the plurality of the bars and toilets, there were even water faucets where you could wash your hands and refill your bottle. I mean if someone was in the main stage and did not mind walking for a while, could avoid waiting in line and go to another location with no lines. Please note that besides the regular bars there were also cocktail bars if you looked more carefully, and drifted away from the main stage. There were also ample volunteers, security and ER units which impressed me. The gift shops had great products! (wish i had bought more than just a pin) There was also other kind of entertainment like arcades, pinballs and for the more adventurous types there was the Zip Line (you know the suspended cable which you mount and roll with great speed).

The attendees of the festival were also great to watch, since some of them wore fancy dresses (especially on Friday the 13th when i saw quite a few Scream masks in the audience, and the best ever Freddy Krueger). You can meet people from all over the world who have come to have a good time. About 40.000 people were at Exit Festival this year.

Some technical observations to potential festival goers, the sound was pretty awesome. The projectors were high enough for people to watch from a distance what is going on at the stage, even if you are 5.6 feet and the average Serbian is over 6 feet tall 😛

Tip: if you want to use, proper toilets (not chemical ones) with light, soap, paper, and über clean, there are available at the cafe located over the river, to which access is granted for a nominal fee of 30 RSD.

Oh and also there were two entrances into the festival area, which we had not considered at first and kept going to the main entrance. The entry was highly secured and your bracelet had a barcode, scanned on arrival (which, if you don’t mind my exaggeration, resembled a little bit of Auschwitz). Once you were inside the premises there was no re-admission. People were coming at all hours from 5pm to 3am, since the stages had acts up to 7am! At this point i should make a note that there were many rest areas, were you could sit and relax, gathering up your strength for the remaining of the night.

I forgot to mention that there were even tobacco kiosks, the price of which is relative lower than in most EU countries.

One thing that annoyed me was the fact that there was a lot of dust rising from the ground, which in some stages made it difficult to breathe. I know that this is a factor that the organizers have little control over, but it would be nice if something could be done about that. My friends were also irritated by the entrance bracelet they had to wore for four days on their left hand (normally reserved for watches) but i could not relate to that complaint.

Well i do not know what else could convince you that Exit Festival is a must try experience.

Tip: Better not buy plum Rakija from the beautiful ladies prior to the main entrance of the festival (advice provided from a local) because in Serbia it is still allowed to conjure up your own liquor at home and the quality is questionable. Oh and there is an amazing pizza place right on the outskirts of the old part of the town prior to the castle.

This in short is my review of the trip; below a brief photo report ensues:

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This entry was posted on July 19, 2012 by in Festivals, Music, Travel and tagged , , , , , .

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