Forget flooded tents and muddy wellies, jump on a cheap flight to Croatia and experience some of Europe’s best music festivals under the glory of the Balkan sun.
As tourists continue to flock to the island’s coastline in search of the ultimate beach parties, the array of festivals on offer continues to grow as incredible line ups are matched with stunning locations. From ancient Roman forts and classic stadiums to all night raves on breathtaking islands and wild boat parties, we’ve selected some of the country’s hottest summer festivals that will see you swapping your soggy feet for sunblock.
INmusic Festival, Zagreb
Labelled as one of the top 12 music festivals in the world by NME, this three day festival in Croatia’s capital is one of the most popular rock fests in the region, offering a consistently impressive supply of big names from the mainstream and indie music scene. Located just outside the city beside a lake, getting to the festival site couldn’t be easier with a series of trams and buses delivering you directly from the city centre daily. Once the main stages closes, the party continues with plenty of DJs pumping out Balkan beats to carry you into the small hours.
As an urban event, most festival goers choose to sleep off-site with the live music programme kicking off at around 5pm each day, giving you plenty of time to explore the metropolis of Zagreb. Adorned with 18th and 19th-century Austro-Hungarian architecture, pedestrianised streets are lined with outdoor bars and cafes to get the party started and there are plenty of parks to relax in the sunshine throughout the day. Wander around the picturesque open-air market or one of the city’s world-class museums before spending the evening listening to your favourite bands under the stars.
Dimensions Festival, Pula
Hosted at the 2000-year-old Fort Punta Christo in Pula, this is perhaps one of the most impressive festival locations you’ll ever come across. Dance the night away inside the fort’s moat and dungeons surrounded by atmospheric lighting as the exceptional sound system introduces you to some of the world’s leading underground dance acts.
Although a relative newcomer to the Croatian Festival circuit, thousands of people flock to this vibrant port on the Istrian peninsula at the end of August each year to sample the finest in house, techno, world and electronica. The start of the festival sees a spectacular opening concert with a whole host of launch parties across the site, certain to get you in the festival spirit with plenty of chilled beach sessions during the day to rejuvenate. Camping is available onsite but for those that prefer their creature comforts, there’s plenty of off-site accommodation too like the Park Plaza Arena.
Outlook Festival, Pula
At the beginning of September, the abandoned Roman fort in Pula is injected with even more crowds as Outlook Festival brings together the best in dub, reggae, hip-hop, drum and bass, grime and electronica. Overlooking the glistening Adriatic, Fort Punta Christo is located right by the beach so you can expect plenty of beach and boat parties throughout the day as the world class sound system caresses your ears with some of the biggest names from the dance scene.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the 2017 line up is bigger and better than ever featuring hundreds of acts including the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Giggs, Wiley and DJ Shadow. This year’s opening ceremony will also see a performance from The Outlook Orchestra, a bespoke ensemble made of 20 of the UK’s finest musicians and MCs which includes Roots Manuva, Pharoahe Monch and Dawn Penn.
Ultra Europe, Split
Ultra Europe is a relative newcomer to Croatia’s thriving festival scene but as July arrives, 150,000 visitors from across the world will descend on the coastal city of Split for its line-up of celebrity DJs and electronic music. Located in the beautifully designed Poljud Stadium, impressive light shows and firework displays enhance the atmosphere with state-of-the-art sound systems guaranteeing an all encompassing journey. The festival’s after parties are said to be legendary with further parties taking place on the islands of Brac, Hvar and Vis after the weekend.
Just a short walk from the Riva promenade, Ultra’s central location means you can spend your days wandering around the historic landmarks or simply rejuvenating in one of the many buzzing bars and restaurants. There are plenty of places to stay in the atmospheric city including a number of luxury hotels boasting indulgent pool scenes, close to the stunning white pebbled beaches.
Soundwave Festival, Tisno
Set in the beautiful fishing village of Tisno, Soundwave Festival is one of the original Croatian music festivals with almost a decade of experience under its belt. Attracting big names across its three stages in The Garden, your ears will be treated to a diverse mixture of hip-hop, jazz and world, funk and disco, broken beat and electronica as you delight in your idyllic surroundings.
Take to the sea onboard The Argonaughty and join one of the daily boat parties around the coast, enjoy a showcase of independent and Croatian films in the open-air cinema or potter around the charming fishing town filled with beautiful architecture and cafes boasting local cuisine. If you’re still going when the music stops, after parties are held at the incredible open-air club Barbarella’s, where festival goers are invited to dance amid the pine trees by the ocean until dawn.
Fresh Island Festival, Pag Island
Located on the island charming party island of Pag, an hour’s drive from Zadar, Fresh Island is one of Europe’s leading hip-hop and urban music festivals set on the stunning Zrce Beach. Having seen the likes of Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown and Redman & Method Man take to the centre stage in previous years, catch some of your favourite international artists underneath the hot Croatian sun at what is sure to be the ultimate hip-hop party.
The three day, non-stop party includes lots of action away from the main stages from notorious boat parties around the coast to epic pool parties led by celebrity DJs.
Heading to a festival in Croatia this summer? Let us know in the comments below!