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...
Who would’ve thought that a decade ago, Nick Colgan and Garden co-founder Eddie O’Callaghan and their families would not only start a festival but practically and geographically redefine summer raving in Europe as we know it? Anyone who’s into electronic music would have likely been to Croatia in the last ten years. There are now approximately 20 festivals and countless other businesses – from budget airlines to festival tour packages – that sprouted from the little festival that could – and did – kick off a cultural revolution.
An epic swan song calls for the big guns to be called in and the Garden – known for its always-stellar line-up thanks to the mastermind Dave Harvey of booking agency and record label Futureboogie – sees near-mythical figure himself DJ Harvey (not related) playing the festival’s last ever set at Barbarella’s Discotheque. The open-air afterhours club was named one of the 25 best in the world by the Guardian in December.
The rest of the line-up looks like a who’s who of today’s top sonic tastemakers: Jackmaster, Seth Troxler, Bonobo, Eats Everything, Ben UFO, Gerd Janson, Midland, John Talabot, Craig Richards, and Joy Orbison. Other fantastic disco stalwarts include: Crazy P, Berlin’s Salon Zur Wilden Renate, and Greg Wilson among the 200-strong line-up.
Other highlights this year include the return of the Secret Island boat party, curated by Love International’s Dave Harvey, a ten-hour party by online electronic music magazine and ticketing agency Resident Advisor. The legendary boat parties, two a day, have sold out as have on-site apartments, but there are still plenty of glamping Shikar tents, podpads, and DIY camping available.
The beauty of Garden is that it’s small compared to other festivals, fewer than 3,000 people, making it easy to manoeuvre back and forth between stages, the beach, your apartment and the boat parties. The festival is encased in a cove-like atmosphere, caressing the music into a cozy shindig, with a forest to shade you from the sweltering Mediterranean sunshine. Within 15 minutes’ walk is the fishing village of Tisno, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and sizzling steaks.
This year may be the end for the Garden but in its place will be another event, specific details yet to be announced. Nick and Eddie will pursue individual projects while still managing the site as other festivals Electric Elephant, Suncébeat, Soundwave and Stop Making Sense will carry the Croatian festival torch.
Striking the perfect balance between a blissful beach escape and a festival featuring the most credible crews and finest selectors from the electronic underground, Stop Making Sense is a sweltering four-day summer outing in festival hotspot, the Tisno Garden.
Offering a relaxed, free-spirited family vibe and a discerning bookings policy that spans eclectic underground tastes, Stop Making Sense is the best-kept secret on the Croatian festival calendar. From house, disco and techno to electro, soul and funk, festival-goers can see the likes of Skream, Jackmaster, Martyn, Nick Höppner, Anthony Naples and Sebo K, as well as favourite promoter crews including Percolate, Corsica Studios, Get Diverted and many more. Expect four days and four nights of dancing, feasting, lounging and partying in the sea, in the sun and under the stars.
The last set of the last festival of the last night in Tisno last year will go down as one of the most memorable. Nick Hoppner and Gerd Janson – two German titans of the Panorama/Berghain persuasion – went back to back for an impromptu 2.5 hour set. After spending six weeks in Tisno, covering five festivals, Hoppner and Janson truly had lift off. There wasn’t an instance when the crowd had their feet on the ground. It was a truly transcendental experience.
This year, they have focused our attention on four days and nights, while dropping the ticket price to a good-value £80. This is one of the strongest line-ups of the season and sure to give last year a run for its kunas.
West Coast American rap will be strongly represented at this year’s Outlook festival, with Jurassic 5 and the phenomenal Madlib Carnival performing, alongside Mercury Prize-winning legend Roni Size Reprazent.
Jurassic 5 are one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all-time, putting out a string of alt-rap hits including ‘Concrete Schoolyard’, ‘Jayou’, ‘Can’t Keep Running Away’ and working alongside J Dilla and Erykah Badu.
After having split up in 2007, the group reformed in 2013.
The Madlib Carnival will see multi-instumentalist, DJ, and producer Madlib featuring some of his favourite DJs and producers Pete Rock, J Rocc and Moodyman for a ten-hour takeover.
Run The Jewels, Boy Better Know, Wiley, Noisia, Flatbush Zombies, Jeru The Damaja, The Beatnuts, Digital Mystikz, DJ EZ, Goldie, Mount Kimbie (DJ set), Cutty Ranks, David Rodigan, Protoje & The Indiggnation, Tippa Irie are among the other performers.
Dusky, George Fitzgerald, Toddla T, Norman Jay, Maribou State and Lone will be some of the house and techno acts to take to the Punta Christo fort.
Last year saw some last-minute changes to the headliners with Busta Rhymes pulling out due to an unforeseen court appearance. Into his place jumped Action Bronson, the former chef turned hip-hop spitter from Queens. His larger-than-life performance before the 17,000 crowd at Outlook involved him jumping off the stage and into the audience, running all the way to the end of the crowd and around it, with hundreds of fans running alongside him. Once on stage, he drank champagne from a bottle and threw it on the stage, ripping his black vest off. For Bronson, who has Balkan roots from neighbouring Kosovo, it’s all in a day’s work.
When asked what he had in store for 2015, the unflinching rapper said, ‘Who knows? But I’m taking over the world.’
George Clinton, the Parliament and Funkadelic will be keeping things funky at this year’s Dimensions festival in Pula.
In one of the biggest musical coups for this young festival, the funk and soul legends will be headlining the event and bring their iconic sound and style to the Adriatic coast.
‘Each year we strive to provide a platform to the best, newest and more exciting acts as well as inviting legends who have changed the face of modern music. This year is no exception,’ said Noah Ball, Dimensions and Outlook Director.
The opening concert at the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre welcomes Swedish electronic rockers Little Dragon, with genre-busters Four Tet and Floating Points both showing why they’re two of the most on-point artists today.
Four stages also welcome: Moodymann, Ben Klock, Lil Louis, Gerd Janson, Mount Kimbie, Surgeon, John Talabot, Ben UFO, Hessle Audio, Rodhad, Goldie, Bicep, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Osunlade.
Some 7,000 ravers are expected to descend on the fort which shost some of today’s best underground house and techno artists. Its sister festival Outlook, focusing on sound-system culture and bass music, runs the following week.
It is seen as a symbolic passing of the disco torch when Electric Elephant takes over from the Garden Festival in Tisno every year.
Where one festival finishes, another begins. However, this year will be different. Not only will it be the last ever Garden Festival but for Electric Elephant’s new owners, a new beginning.
Broadwick Live, the team responsible for Snowbombing in Austria and Festival 6 in the UK, will be taking over Electric Elephant from its previous owners.
The line-up they’ve secured looks to be as spectacular as in the past, with a similar house, disco and techno focus: The 2 Bears, DJ Harvey, Todd Terry, Derrick Carter, David August (Live), Lindstrom, Andrew Weatherall, Prosumer and Bicep, to name a few.
Boat parties will also be returning twice a day with Horse Meat Disco, Justin Robertson, Feel My Bicep, Bill Brewster and Andrew Weatherhall playing disco captains.
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.
Set in legendary festival destination Garden Tisno, boutique festival Soundwave is now in its 7th year. This is a perfect place to relax and sightsee as well as party until the sun comes up; it's an easy hop by boat to the nearby Kornati islands, a short walk to the pretty fishing village of Tisno and the beach itself is clean, the water cool and clear. Jay Electronica heads up this year's eclectic and exciting line-up, whilst other acts (Mr Scruff, Mala) are returning for the second or third time; there are some relatively new faces too, so there's a chance you'll hear something you've not yet heard. A live art and film programme has been added to this year's festival, making this something of an all-rounder.