Music & Nightlife

Find the best clubs and nightlife in Croatia – and where to see the best live music shows, festivals and concerts

Zagreb nightlife guide

Vienna? Budapest? Ljubljana? Zagreb nightlife is matched by few places owing to the range of regular live music on offer – and for the sheer number of venues to stage it. Zagreb is also known for its music bars – places such as SPUNK transform into small clubs as the night wears on, with occasional live acts too. Read on for our list of the best places to dance the night away.

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Clubs

KSET • Zagreb

KSET is an excellent, adventurous venue for live music and DJs, with events taking place three or four nights a week. Well worth the hassle of finding, KSET has actively promoted new bands for decades, an oasis for underground, post-rock, Americana, avant-jazz, punk, rap, ethno and lots of other stylistically diverse artists. With a 400-person capacity this intimate and friendly space is the ideal venue in which to catch a band on the cusp of the big time. The choice of drinks is limited to beer, wine and fruit juices, but prices are rock-bottom.

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Bars and pubs

The best Dubrovnik bars

By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.

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Split nightlife guide

Split nightlife is going through a period of change. Surprisingly, most of the interesting new clubbing spots run mostly off-season. A row of late-opening bars along the Bačvice beachside also stay busy way past midnight over the summer. Read on for our pick of the best clubs and nightspots the city has to offer.

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Best nightlife and music events

Music

Croatia festival guide

The Croatia festival scene in 2015 is as exciting as ever. Here's where to make the most of a vintage season at the seaside...

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Music

Outlook Festival 2015

Now in its 8th year, Outlook is a firm favourite on the underground dance, garage, dub step, hip hop and reggae scene. Fort Punta Christo is brought alive with resounding bass, lasers, bars and live acts and the party spreads all the way to nearby camps. Set to astound again this year is a prestigious line-up the likes of which fans have come to expect from Outlook: Jurassic 5, Beenie Man, Roni Size and Madlib included. The nearby city of Pula is home also to an ancient Roman amphitheatre as well as numerous clubs, pubs, restaurants and attractions, so take some time off during the day to explore and you won't be disappointed.

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Music

Sonus Festival 2015

Renowned beach playground Zrce and its two most renowned clubs, Papaya and Kalypso, are home to Sonus Festival, a relatively new face on the ever-growing Croatian festival scene. Chris Liebing, Meat, Loco Dice and many more will be taking to the open-air stages this year to impress the young and excitable crowds hungry for all kinds of beats; partygoers dance on sand and in sea, and the atmosphere's an elated one. Those who want to make the absolute most of their festival will want to purchase boat party tickets, and there's always a pre- or post-party going on somewhere, so if you can't bear to waste a minute of your time just basking in the sun or playing in the sea, you can literally go all day and all night.

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Music festival features

Music

Interview with the organisers of The Garden Festival

This July sees the tenth – and last – Garden Festival at a former holiday camp for oil workers in Tisno. Over a decade, this seminal event has moved from its former base at an abandoned discothèque in Petrčane and helped changed the face of Croatia as a whole. Planeloads of foreigners have partied and come back for more. Some have even set up their own events along the coast and adventurous locals have done likewise. Now Croatia is a festival destination of choice. Time Out checks in with the organisers - Nick Colgan and Dave Harvey, to talk about The Garden, it's last outing in Tisno - and beyond. Nick: ‘It wasn’t an easy decision. When I told Dave and everyone, they all said, ‘You’re joking! We can’t finish it!’ But ten years is a long time to do anything. There are lots of projects in the pipeline. I’d like us to go out on a high. This year will definitely be one to remember.’ Dave: ‘I came to the first one in 2006. I’d been told that some Brummies were starting a rave in somewhere called Croatia. I blagged my way onto the line-up and I was in!’ Music producer and party supremo Nick Colgan founded The Garden club in Zadar in 2005. With years of experience on the road with UB40 and organising parties in Argentina and California, while on holiday Nick had found a lounge-bar location high up in Zadar’s Venetian city walls. Nick: ‘Wherever I go, I’m always looking out for a party venue. The Garden was a spontaneous idea. The owners gave us ten days to decide. I’d never run

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Music

Sergej Snooze talks festivals in Croatia

The man behind Sirup, and a professor at Zagreb University to boot, Sergej Snooze is involved in many aspects of the domestic music business. He gives us the lowdown on the history of dance music in Croatia and the scene's hottest festivals, including Sonus and Outlook How has the Croatian music scene changed in the last ten years? Summer festivals are booming. I think it’s amazing what is happening now but I have to admit that it’s been a long and hard path. We used to have to pay taxi drivers to be in front of clubs. Now they fight for a place there. Also promo – ten years ago, I used to take 100 tickets with me and sell them around town when I was having coffee with friends. Musically speaking, same tech house groove is consistent, with every few years a new summer trend. It’s great because it pushes you to be more delicate in your selection of techno and house. How do you think the festival scene has affected growth of electronic music in Croatia? It’s always a double-edged sword. On the one side, it’s great that there is so much to hear and dance to. Also Croats can meet different cultures by dancing shoulder to shoulder with people from other countries. On the other, I’ve heard locals complaining because these festivals are expensive for them to get in. But for sheer value for money, if you calculate the number of DJs you can hear and the money you spend… In a way, this is related to the very strong roots of electronic music scene in Croatia. We were always close to

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Music

Interview with DJ Mariano Mateljan

Mariano Mateljan is a talented producer from Split. Born in 1989, at the apex of dance music culture, an era fondly recalled as the 'second summer of love' by old time ravers and bass affaciandos alike. Now, DJs like Mariano are helping to reignite that scene, changing the face of Croatia - and, arguably, of European clubbing in general. With serious productions on the Infuse label and appearances at FUSE, Sankeys and Club der Visionäre, he's the top local knowledge on all things bass-related. How has the Croatian music scene changed in the last ten years? The electronic music scene in Croatia was pretty huge back in the 2000s. The era of faster tempo and harder beats. It slowly started to fall down around 2006 or so. Club promoters kept bringing over the same old names over years because it was surefire, money-wise. That’s probably why the majority of Croatian party clientele still like it bangin', because they never really had a chance to hear and explore new and different sounds. How do you think the festival scene has affected growth of electronic music in Croatia? I think the festival scene has affected our scene in so many ways, mainly because most of the names on those festival line-ups, you would hardly ever see booked at a club in Croatia. Another reason is that the amount of festivals during the summer season is incredible. You can basically party almost every day for three months. Do some festivals deal more with the local scene? Which ones? I’m not too sure

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Music

Sonus Festival: interview with organiser Robin Ebinger

Sonus festival has a rep for boundary-pushing, dance-music innovation, and has successfully earned it's place on the calendar of any self-respecting bass-music buff. Robin Ebinger, from Cosmopop, helped to launch this seminal festival back in 2013. He chats to Time Out about the inspiration, bringing in local talent, and what the future holds for Sonus. Why Croatia? For a long while we had planned to extend our festival roster to southern Europe, so started visiting locations in Croatia back in 2009. We always rated Croatia as an interesting market for festivals due to the beautiful landscape and immediate proximity to the sea. In January 2013, a friend contacted us with the idea to host a festival. He already had a venue and had done small shows there in 2012. We really liked the venues and the idea, so this was when Sonus was born back in 2013. Since then the Sonus community has grown and grown. We are proud to be a part of today’s strong Croatian festival scene. What were your thoughts before you went? I was familiar with several other festivals in Croatia before. But I had never felt the vibe down there. We knew that by combining beautiful weather, beaches and top-quality music, there was a chance we would have a successful festival. What are the pros and cons of holding a festival in Croatia? Since we can’t control the weather, outdoor events are always risky. That’s why we chose August, when sunshine is reliable. Our stunning beach spot is easily accessible from

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Music

Stop Making Sense: interview with director Chris Greenwood

Stop Making Sense enjoys a glowing reputation as a seriously good party, thanks to top boss and ex-Big Chill programmer Chris Greenwood. Time Out catches up with the director of this major festival to talk boat parties, alfresco raves and going it solo on the international stage. Why Croatia? Stop Making Sense rose out of the ashes of the Big Chill Festival dance-music tent that I programmed. I was looking to take the Big Chill to sunnier shores and we had already produced successful events in Goa and Prague. The opportunity came up to take the Big Chill there… but when the Big Chill went to Festival Republic, they had no desire to go international. I took the plunge solo and SMS was born. What were your thoughts before you went? The Garden and Electric Elephant were already up and running and tales abounded of instantly legendary boat parties and alfresco dawn raves with no sound restrictions… a very Balearic DIY ethic prevailed.’ How do these festivals interact with eachother? At the Tisno site, we share the costs of production, sound, lighting, friendly security and amenities, so we’re constantly in touch. We also share info regarding who we are booking, so we can all retain our specific musical identity. Tell us about your audience – and what they can look forward to in 2015 Our audience is made up of 25- to 35-year-old European dance-music lovers, with loads of repeat custom. Although predominantly from the UK, we are seeing a steady increase in Scandinavians, Du

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Music

Felver’s Sonus Festival Playlist

Marjan Felver lays out his essential summer tracks ahead of his performance at this year's Sonus in Time Out's exclusive playlist

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Recommended live music events and concert venues

Clubs

AKC Medika • Zagreb

Still going strong despite the municipal authorities' threat to dramatically raise the rent, this shrine to all things alternative grew out of Zagreb’s anarchist movement and is still run as a non-profit-making collective. A courtyard decorated by some of Zagreb’s best street artists has a café-bar on one side, and a concert venue-cum-club space on the other. Events range from anarcho-punk gigs to dub reggae DJs and cutting-edge dance music, with all kinds of other styles thrown in for good measure. Visual arts association Otomptom throw impromptu film evenings screening animation and shorts. Popular with a broad spectrum of Zagreb’s club-hungry youth, Medika is much more than just a gathering point for the grungey underground.

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Clubs

Club Nina 2 • Rijeka

This spacious docked boat has been converted into a popular dance spot in the heart of town. Live bands play and DJs spin a range of danceable music, from disco to Latin to electronica, for a mostly young crowd who boogie in a big room with a great bar on the middle floor of the boat. Get out on deck and into the fresh air for conversation and lounging. Three bars keep the drinks flowing.

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Clubs

Boogie Jungle • Korčula

Korčula has been crying out for a proper nightclub for years, and it has finally arrived in the form of Boogie Jungle, a ranch-style agglomeration of buildings on a terraced hillside 3km from town on the Žrnovo road. Opened in 2012 and enlarged in time for the opening of the 2013 season, the club comprises a largely al-fresco series of terraces and awnings with VIP areas, three bars, and plenty of room to circulate and mingle. Surrounded by dense Mediterranean greenery and with the capacity for 1,500 people, it's the ideal venue for a long night of revelry. Palms, cacti, drapes and coloured lights provide the atmosphere, and there's a long list of wines, long drinks and cocktails. International DJs, themed events and festivals provide the peaks to a full summer programme.

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Music

Arsenal • Zadar

Set in an expansive renovated 18th-century warehouse, Arsenal is unique in Croatia, in terms of size, ambience and the sheer variety of events and attractions. These include a gallery, cocktail bar and a popular à la carte restaurant upstairs. The spacious stage hosts world music, local klapa choral singing, name DJs and local bands. The sound is superb, thanks to installation by the Garden crew, and there’s a show of some kind most evenings. Tables between the stage and the bar allow for lounging, sipping and snacking from the extensive menu – the space is cleared for gigs and dancing.

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Clubs

KSET • Zagreb

KSET is an excellent, adventurous venue for live music and DJs, with events taking place three or four nights a week. Well worth the hassle of finding, KSET has actively promoted new bands for decades, an oasis for underground, post-rock, Americana, avant-jazz, punk, rap, ethno and lots of other stylistically diverse artists. With a 400-person capacity this intimate and friendly space is the ideal venue in which to catch a band on the cusp of the big time. The choice of drinks is limited to beer, wine and fruit juices, but prices are rock-bottom.

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