Of all the exciting things to happen to Croatian tourism over the last decade, the boom in boutique music festivals has come as the biggest surprise. A surge in party-loving punters flocking to the Adriatic has generated a cool buzz around the country, inspiring promoters near and far to set up temporary camp along its famously sun-drenched coastline. And when it comes to Croatian festivals, you really do have the best of both worlds: incredible line-ups are matched by equally impressive locations. The choice here is massive – from sizzling hot boat parties and raves in abandoned forts to live music in the heart of Croatia’s historical cities. With over 40 festivals taking place this summer, it’s harder than ever to pick the right one. To help you decide, we’ve shortlisted 13 of the best.
RECOMMENDED: Croatia's best homegrown music festivals of 2019
A sister to the region's stalwart Exit in Serbia, Sea Star is billed as a festival where hedonism meets activism. It's part of Exit's so-called "Summer of Love" celebrating 62 years since the famous summer of 1967. The headliners are Sven Vath, Nina Kraviz, Erico Sangiuliano and Petar Dundov but the line-up is otherwise refreshingly Croatian-leaning, with bucketloads of local musicians including High 5, Vojko V, Krankšvester and others.
The Cure, Foals, Suede, Garbage, LP, The Hives, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Johnny Marr, Thievery Corporation, Frank Turner & Sleeping Souls, Sofi Tukker, Peter Bjorn & John, Skindred, Zeal & Ardor and many more Zagreb’s city festival INmusic offers three days of rock and indie fun next to a man-made lake in the large Jarun park, west of Zagreb's city centre. Croatia's premier international live music event, INmusic has put Zagreb definitively on the music map. Each year organisers coax some of the best modern rock and indie bands, cult heroes and world musicians to the city, along with many international attendees. There’s a great modern campsite open for eight days during the festival. And there are plenty of afterparties and activities happening in and around the city.
A Love From Outer Space, Andrew Weatherall, Axel Boman, Beautiful Swimmers, Ben UFO, Call Super, Craig Richards B2B Nicolas Lutz, Crazy P Soundsystem, Dan Shake, DJ Harvey, DMX Krew live, Felix Dickinson, Gerd Janson, Kornél Kovács, Leon Vynehal, Midland, Moxie, Optimo, Paranoid London live, Peggy Gou, Prosumer, Roman Flügel, Shanti Celeste B2B Saoirse, Vladimir Ivkovic B2B Ivan Smagghe, Young Marco, Willow and many more. Five days of full-on-fun for an extremely openminded crowd in Tisno. The beauty of Love International is that it’s small compared to other festivals, fewer than 4500 people, making it easy to manoeuvre back and forth between stages, the beach, your apartment and the boat parties. The festival takes place in a secluded cove just 15 minutes walk from the fishing village of Tisno, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and sizzling steaks.
David Guetta, Carl Cox, Alesso, Above and Beyond, Armin Van Buuren, The Chainsmokers, DJ Snake and many more. Ultra Europe Laser shows! Day-glo! EDM! The North American house-dance-trance festival thrills fans worldwide each year, and with its line-up reading like a 'best of' the genre CD. It's completely unsurprising that it's made a huge impression on Croatia. It's an absolute must-go if pulsing EDM beats, an electric atmosphere and epic production are what gets you up and dancing all night. Associated events include parties on several islands including Hvar, a Yacht Regatta and more. The main event is held in Split's Poljud stadium, close to the gorgeous walled city itself, numerous sunny Blue Flag beaches and is just a couple of hours' drive from national park Plitvice Jezera, so many choose to extend their stay in Croatia afterwards. Packages include flights, accommodation and tickets, so if you'd like to leave the organising to someone else, you've plenty of options.
DJ Marky, Mefjus, Andy C, Friction, S.P.Y., DJ Die, Fabio, Noisia, Alix Perez, Makoto and many more. This Drum & Bass celebration run by South London's Hospital records returns again to the Croatian coast in the always lovely, party-rocking hot spot of Tisno's Garden site. Croatia's standard beauty package of crystal clear waters, sunny sky and scented pine trees at last has its own, dedicated, international DnB soundtrack. At the top of this years lineup, Andy C, S.P.Y and DJ Marky are not to be missed.
Dedicated to soundsystem culture, the ever-popular Seasplash is being held this year in Šibenik. Expect the usual high-quality reggae, dub and bass musics from the best regional contributors plus international headliners like Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Mad Professor and Scientist and a top rate supporting cast which includes Dub Pistols, Vibronics, Edo Maajka, Cause4Concern, Janaka Selekta, KRAK in DUB, Jah Free, Digitron Sound System, Warrior Charge Soundsystem, Moby Stick, Kali Fat Dub, Banana Zvuk, Boca sound system, Sap Leo, Inka, Pluvio, Fullstep Phil.
Kerri Chandler, David Morales, Mr. G (DJ set), The Black Madonna, Kenny Dope, Tony Humphries, Joey Negro, Gilles Peterson, Soul Clap, Mr Scruff, Antal RH, Osúnlade, Crazy P, Sandy Rivera, Spen, Karizma, Henrik Schwarz, Marcellus Pittman, Dan Shake, John Morales and many more. ‘Soul has no musical, geographical, or racial boundaries,’ Roy Ayers, one of the most-sampled artists in music and the ‘Godfather of Neo-soul’, once said. This spirit is also perfectly in tune with Tisno’s soulful house utopia: SuncéBeat. With promoters having called time on their legendary UK weekender in Southport, their focus has turned towards the Adriatic. Celebrating its tenth anniversary at this edition, this year’s bill reads like a fraternity of house legends.
Armand Van Helden, Claptone, Dennis Ferrer, Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Masters at Work, Eats Everything, Honey Dijon, Nightmares on Wax, Horse Meat Disco, MK, Purple Disco Machine, Roger Sanchez, Sam Divine, Todd Edwards, Todd Terry and many more. This legendary Ibiza party has swapped shores, defecting to the Adriatic coast for six solid days of house hedonism, with daytime beach sessions and boat parties booming away in the background. The main stage is located in the Garden’s natural amphitheatre, and the Beach Stage will send reverb fluttering over the Adriatic waves, while Barbarella’s Discotheque hosts heady after-hours clubbing. No corners are cut on the line-up front: the headliners this year are Armand Van Helden, Dimitri from Paris and Masters at Work.
Set around the beautiful Zrće beach on the island of Pag, just off the west coast of Croatia, Sonus is a techno and tech house festival with a line-up of internationally recognised DJ talent. The festival has quickly earned its place as a serious contender on the calendar of must-visit Croatian festivals and this edition again sees some of the world’s top tastemakers taking to its open-air stages and boat parties, including Adriatique, Amelie Lens, Andrea Oliva, Apollonia, Ben Klock, Chris Liebing, Daniel Avery, Dax J, Henrik Schwarz (live), I Hate Models, Jamie Jones, Len Faki, Loco Dice, Maceo Plex, Marco Carola, Pan-Pot, Patrick Topping & Richy Ahmed, Ricardo Villalobos, Richie Hawtin, Rødhåd, Seth Troxler, Solomun, Sonja Moonear, Sven Väth and Tale Of Us. Sonus is also one of the few festivals to strongly showcase homegrown Croatian and regional DJ talent.
Chase & Status (RTRN II Jungle DJ Set), Calibre, Flava D, Bugzy Malone, DJ Zinc, Ghetts, Kaba Pyramid, Holly Goof, Mala and many more. When it comes to bass music, the UK-derived scene that incorporates garage, dubstep, hip-hop, dub, drum ‘n’ bass and reggae, there really is no more important annual fixture than Outlook. Not only is the festival significant for this youth movement, it is also the starting point for positioning Pula as one of the most famous destinations in Croatia. Like Dimensions, it waves goodbye to Fort Punta Christo and Pula Arena this year after a decade of hedonistic antics. Chase & Status, Bugzy Malone, Goldie (live) and dBridge are among the main site headliners with Andy C, Shy FX (live), Gentleman’s Dub Club and Mala performing at the opening concert in the Amphitheatre. Grooverider, LTJ Bukem, Calibre and Randall represent drum n' bass at the main site, grime and rap contributors include Ghetts, D Double E, Aitch and Unknown T, with Channel One Soundsystem, Iration Steppas and Sister Nancy & Legal Shot Sound being among the reggae contingent. Also appearing are DJ Zinc, My Nu Leng & Dread MC, Joker, Matt Jam Lamont, Chimpo, MC Fox, Chunky and MC DRS, DJ Rap and Holy Goof.
Andrew Weatherall, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Blawan, Call Super, Craig Richards, DāM-FunK (live), DBridge, DJ Bone (electro set), DJ Stingray, DMX Krew (live), DVS1, Gilles Peterson, Helena Hauff, Hessle Audio - Ben UFO, Pangaea, Pearson Sound, Hunee, Jane Fitz, Jeff Mills (DJ), Joy Orbison, Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers (live), Mala, Mr. Scruff, Nicolas Lutz, Nina Kraviz, Objekt, Octave One (live), Omar S, Peggy Gou, Petar Dundov, Radioactive Man (live), Sadar Bahar, Saoirse, Shanti Celeste and many more. Celebrating its final year at Fort Punta Christo and Pula Arena (though not necessarily their final year in Istria or Pula), expect Dimensions to pull out all the stops for the end of a thrilling chapter in Istria's festival scene. 2019 sees the likes of Omar-S, Peggy Gou, Nina Kraviz, Joy Orbison, Helena Hauff, dBridge, Gilles Peterson, Call Super, Andrew Weatherall and Craig Richards play at the fort, while the arena opening concert will be handled by Objekt, Hunee and headliner Jeff Mills who will incorporate Afrobeat rhythm pioneer Tony Allen into his live performance. Alternative sounds on-site come from Sadar Bahar, Awesome Tapes From Africa and Mr. Scruff, pummeling techno from Blawan and DVS1, electro from DJ Stingray and DJ Bone plus DMX Krew and Radioactive Man, both of whom will perform live. Other live acts appearing include Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers, Octave One and Dam-Funk.
Albion, Andy Votel, Ben UFO, Donato Dozzy, Francois K, Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy, Demdike Stare, John Gómez, Mark Seven, Objekt, Palms Trax, Vladimir Ivkovic, Young Marco and many more. Amsterdam’s Dekmantel Festival is a legendary celebration of underground electronic music, and this sister event Selectors brings some of its deepest-digging DJs to the sun-drenched Dalmatian coast. The famous Garden Resort in Tisno will host the event, which will be Dekmantel in miniature – just 2000 or so lucky music-lovers can attend this small festival with big attitude.
Totally crowdfunded and sponsor-free, Goulash Disko is a truly independent festival that cares about nothing but music and music-lovers. This year it takes place at the coastal town of Komiža, which boasts idyllic beaches and an eccentric crowd of global bass lovers. Unlike the UK-run festival big guns, Goulash Disko is actually trying to downsize rather than expand, with a view to becoming more integrated into the community that lives in this small fishing village. Expect a highly eclectic lineup, with all kinds of music from the Global Underground: Tropical grooves, organica, gipsy punk, Arab disco, swing folk, tribal techno and everything in between.