The arts have long been burgeoning in Croatia, as evidenced by a number of Croatia’s festivals, many of which have been among the country’s cultural highlights for decades. From one of contemporary music’s biggest festivals, to a traditional folklore fest and even a cutting-edge electronica festival, discover Croatia’s most interesting festivals.
Zagreb, in April
Since 1961, the Music Biennale Zagreb transform’s Croatia’s capital into the world’s hub of contemporary music. Held in the spring of odd-numbered years, the Biennale welcomes an international array contemporary music composers, musicians, music critics and contemporary music and arts lovers to Zagreb, which hosts numerous events and recitals. Attendees can hear new and classic compositions and see performances from renowned chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras, such as the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as attend productions of experimental musical theater, contemporary dance and jazz.
ZAGREB, in June
The InMusic Festival (stylized as INmusic festival) is Croatia’s biggest international open-air festival. The festival is held annually in June in Zagreb and takes place on Youth Island in the middle of Zagreb’s Lake Jarun. The festival was started in 2006 and is usually held over two or three days. It includes several genre-specific stages with internationally renowned indie rock, heavy metal and electronica artists. In 2008 The Times included INmusic among the top 20 European summer festivals, and it made the CNN’s 2013 list of 50 greatest summer music festivals in the world.
ZAGREB, in June
ISLAND OBONJAN, From June until mid September
Obonjan is a brand new Croatian festival taking place on Otok Obonjan, an island just off the coast of Šibenik. Running from late July through to early September, Obonjan will be laying on an immense lineup of music, talks, workshops, art, wellbeing, sports and more across the previously uninhabited island for what will be a festival like no other.
Whether you’re dancing to hip-hop, funk ‘n’ soul, electronica, house or techno, kicking back outdoors in front of a film, taking to the waves, or enjoying the woodland wellness, Obonjan’s blissful serenity will be with you every step of the way, from dusk through to dawn.
Hoping to take the festival experience to the next level, Obonjan has no fixed dates, instead inviting guests to stay for as long as they like, creating the perfect festival retreat.
Various locations, May — June
Croatia’s most important dance festival, the Dance Week Festival, pays homage to contemporary dance. Held annually in Zagreb, the festival features work by members of the Croatian Choreographic Platform and artists from around the world. One of the festival’s primary goals is to portray the diverse styles of dance and choreography impacting the realm of contemporary dance and to feature the work of up-and-coming artists and choreographers.
Festival events are held at theaters throughout Zagreb and even in some performance spaces in Rijeka. While many of the festival’s events are geared toward the dance connoisseur, such as its roundtable discussions ancillary to specific performances, novices will enjoy the festival’s dance exhibitions, performances by top-notch choreographers and film screenings.
Novalja, island of Pag, June
Entering into its seventh year, Hideout Festival is an annual electronic music festival held on Zrce Beach, Croatia. 150 of the world’s best artists, for 5 days and nights, on a stunning beach sandwiched between mountains and the sea. This is the formula that has seen the festival sell out every year since it began, back in 2011.
Tisno, June — July
Love International is the spiritual successor of the acclaimed original Croatian odyssey, The Garden Festival, and seeks to build upon the decade’s worth of magic created already in the region. By day a harmonious holiday beneath the sizzling sun, and by dusk as the beats shift gear and introduce each balmy night beneath a canopy of stars, the intimate setting holds a unique energy, sound tracked by some of the world’s leading underground DJs and producers, drawing a vibrant and diverse audience from across the world to this tiny strip of paradise.
Motovun and Buzet, end of July
An international film festival and five-day party all in one, Motovun Film Festival is held in the beautiful Venetian town of Motovun, 270m above sea level. International and ex-Yu films are screened at a number of pop-up cinemas both indoors and out; screenings take place from early morning until around 2am. Directors from around the world compete for the prestigious Propeler Award, and interactive events involving film experts and staff take place around Motovun for those wishing for a little in-depth insight. Recent developments have seen the town council mark certain areas of this historic town as off-limits to partygoers at night, owing to enthusiastic drinking post-film, meaning the 18th festival should be, as was the 17th, a little more refined than in previous years. Parts of the festival will also take place at nearby town Buzet.
Obonjan, 6th – 9th July 2017
Exported from the clubs of Manchester to an idyllic fishing village on the Adriatic sea, Electric Elephant is all about the spirit of adventure and the expansive world of electronic music.
For 2017 Electric Elephant Festival has formed a collaborative partnership with Obonjan Island. This year customers can enjoy incredible DJs and live acts programmed by Electric Elephant and Obonjan, as well as a wide and varied creative programme thats runs throughout the season. This year customers are invited to book accommodation on the island via the Electric Elephant website, which in turn gives them access to all venues on the island and the music & creative programme across the 4 day and 4 nights.
Fresh Island FESTIVAL
Novalja, island of Pag, 11th – 13th July 2017
Croatia may be internationally known for its EDM festivals, but actually it hosts also one of the largest hip-hop festival in Europe — Fresh Island Festival held at Zrće beach near the city of Novalja in Croatia. Founded in 2012 and usually held in mid-July the festival focuses primarily on hip hop culture along with r&b and grime. The festival takes place in 3 different venues on Zrće beach: Aquarius, Papaya and Kalypso. It also offers daily boat parties and pool parties, excursions and extreme and water sports. Since 2012 Fresh Island became the biggest hip-hop & urban beach festival in Europe featuring musicians, DJs and MCs from all over the world.
BEATS, BEER AND BOOGALOO
Tisno, 13th – 17th July 2017
Croatia’s brand new festival, Beats, Beer and Boogaloo, which debuts on the stunning Dalmatian coastline this summer, is very proud to announce its first headliners, with a mix of global stars, classic talent and some of Croatia’s finest artists.
Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul Club and the co-founders of the revered Garden Festival, who now run The Garden Brewery, are uniting to bring a different kind of festival to the region, with its heart beating around a funked-up soundtrack from live artists and DJs and craft beers from around the world. The inaugural event takes place from Thursday 13th – Monday 17th July.
On the live side of things, Beats, Beer and Boogaloo has got some very special guests to introduce. Hot 8 Brass Band are the New Orleans brass band that blends hip-hop, jazz and funk styles with traditional New Orleans sounds to incredible crowd-rousing effect, whilst Geno Washington And The Ram Jam Band bring soul-stirring soul to Tisno; iconic American R&B singer Geno released 5 albums with the UK Ram Jam band in the 1960s. The Craig Charles Fantasy Funk Band (plus special guest) was created when Craig asked his show’s listeners who would be in their favourite funk band; since 2007 the band’s various members have performed at festivals around the world. And the Detroit-based Amp Fiddler is a celebrated soul/funk musician who has shared stages and studios with everyone from Prince and George Clinton to Primal Scream and underground Detroit producer Moodyman.
On the DJ-tip, things are looking rather special, with some dedicated craftsmen and nuanced names joining in: Craig Charles himself is one of the UK’s foremost funk and soul spinners, with his encyclopaedic knowledge at the fore each time he gets behind the decks; Guts (solo/MPC) is sublime hip-hop disciple of immense repute; and Kon is the last of an increasingly rare breed of dedicated crate diggers, bringing his deep knowledge of obscure goodies to clubs and festivals worldwide.
Under the unfortunate acronym of DUFF, October’s Dubrovnik Film Festival is the latest attempt to stage a major cinematic event in this historic city. Major Hollywood stars are regular visitors here in summer, but this recently inaugurated four-dayer has been set up for young local amateur filmmakers. Behind the project is the Association for Media Culture Promotion.
Ultra Europe has become one of, if not the biggest, EDM and house music festival on the continent. Bringing it all together on the lush Adriatic coast of the Croatian town of Split, the festival lays on a programme of epic stadium shows, beach kickbacks and full-throttle boat parties across the town and its surrounding islands.
Recent editions have featured the likes of David Guetta, deadmau5 and The Chemical Brothers, who each touched down alongside a pilgrimage of dance music fans from around the world, eager to party like they’ve never done before.
With the main festival taking place inside Split’s historical Stadion Poljud, festival-goers will also take to the waves onboard a selection of no-holds-barred boat parties, as well as docking on some of the country’s most beautiful islands for a set of heavenly beach parties.
The Garden at Tisno is a beautiful spot for a festival, which is why so many are held there. Suncebeat is one of them. As we know, Croatia is currently one of Europe’s kings of the festival scene, so you know what you’re in for with this one…
It’s also a relatively small festival, so feels more like a community/secret/secret community than the big dogs of the festival scene.
Seasplash Festival is one of Croatia’s longest running music festivals, delving deep into bass culture inside Pula’s historic Fort Punta Christo.
International artists from the worlds of reggae, dub, drum and bass, dancehall, ska and more traditional electronic music come together inside the unique setting for four days and nights of music, art, workshops and more.
Surrounded by beautiful beaches offering views over Pula’s bay, as well as the Brijuni National Park, Seasplash has become a huge part of the region’s cultural identity and one of the country’s most magical music festivals.
Novalja, island of Pag, July
The biggest german electronic music festival on Zrce beach is back after another successful year! The unique artist selection, especially for Zrce, in combination with the incomparable event design has made Loveweek the currently most attractive Zrce Festival.
As the worlds only week long seaside festival, Loveweek combines celebration & clubbing, chilling & relaxation as well as fun & fascination and is therefore more a festival holiday and adventure! A week with many long nights, relaxing on dream beaches, cheap and delicious food, cozy chilling and celebrating on the world famous beach parties as well as the celebration at night in the mild evening climate.
Another one of Croatia’s big party events, the Soundwave Festival takes place over three days with five days of side parties. It is held in the famous Garden Site in Tisno, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful locations in the whole of Europe. Expect to have your breath taken away by the gorgeous views as you join up with countless kindred souls for a height of summer extravaganza that takes place over five days in late July.
You can get your groove on at the Soundwave festival with a swinging selection of Beat based audio waves. This event takes in a number of genres including Jazz, Dub and many forms of Electronica splashed out with a little bit of Hip Hop and Reggae thrown into the mix. There are a number of different soundstages around the site including the famous Soundwave boat party and a late night club style venue.
Previously Ibiza regulars, Defected return to Croatia for their second event.
Building on the success of its first edition, this year welcomes an abundance of innovators to play throughout the evening on the starlit beaches, with the daytime sunshine reserved for soaking in the rays and enjoying the winding streets of Tisno.
Previous names to have performed here include Julio Bashmore, Kenny Dope, Basement Jaxx (DJ Set), Dennis Ferrer, Roger Sanchez, Guti (Live), Nick Curly, Osunlade, Nightmares On Wax, Low Steppa and many more.
Novalja, island of Pag, August
Sonus Festival is a techno festival set along the white, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters of Zrce Beach, Croatia. With the very best beachfront clubs hosting the occasion, expect top tier performances, high voltage soundsystems and stunning lightshows.
The festival welcomes the very best on the international techno scene as well as a menagerie of underground and emerging electronic innovators.
The first artists announced for 2017 include Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, Ricardo Villalobos, Chris Liebing, Adam Beyer, Tale of Us, Pan-Pot and many more.
Dekmantel is an Amsterdam based music company that hosts global events and releases cutting-edge dance music. After years of throwing parties, founding fathers Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij sought to magnify their love for off-kilter and quality dance music through their own label in 2009. Four years later, together with close-friend and partner Matthijs Theben Terville, the trio adopted to expand its operations into the festival arena. Dekmantel Festival has established itself not only as a peerless electronic music festival in Europe, but also as an organization appreciated for its deep and genuine passion for underground dance music.
Pula, August — September
Dimensions Festival is an underground electronic and urban festival in Croatia. Incredible lineups are hosted in an abandoned Roman fort, making for one of the most spectacular party locations in Europe.
Add in the fact that the glorious Adriatic coast is just a short distance away, and you’ve got all the makings of the ultimate summer festival.
Dimensions take as a slightly more niche look at European underground music than its sister, Outlook Festival, and has been producing some of the summer’s stand-out moments ever since its very first edition in 2012. Beach parties supplement the historic Fort venue, with worldwide A‑listers guaranteed year after year.
Outlook Festival is a musical event, started as a subsidiary of Leeds event SubDub, hosting all kinds of bass music held just outside the city of Pula, Croatia. Although held in Croatia, many of the attendees come from the United Kingdom as do much of the team involved in organizing the festival. Held in Fort Punta Christo and the surrounding beaches the festival is unique in its setting, with sound systems and stages being erected in various tunnels and even the moat of the abandoned ruins.
The festival also plays host to a number of boat parties which feature artists from the festival and sail around the Adriatic coastline playing more individual selections of music that other stages around the festival.
Taking place at stunning middle ages Kamerlengo Fortress in Trogir, one of the most beautiful world’s city islands, situated in middle of Croatia’s beautiful Adriatic coast, Moondance 2017 for it’s 5th anniversary will offer truly unique experience for every true techno lover.
In this year’s edition Moondance will host some of the most prominent underground techno artists who will spice three nights under moonlight as well as an amazing beach after parties.
PULA, July — August
The Pula Film Festival is the oldest Croatian film festival which is held annually in a Roman amphitheater known as the Pula arena since 1954. The festival is usually held in the summer, in July or August.
Apart from film screenings open to the public, the annual Croatian film industry awards are also traditionally presented at the festival. The awards presented at the festival (called Golden Arenas) are the main national film awards in the country and they serve as the Croatian equivalent of the American Academy Awards, British BAFTA Awards, Spain’s Goya Awards, France’s César Award, etc.
The festival was originally started in 1954 and within a few years it became the centerpiece event of the Yugoslav film industry, with first national awards being presented in 1957. This lasted until 1991, when the festival was cancelled due to the breakup of Yugoslavia, only to resume in 1992 as the Croatian film awards festival. It has been held every year since (with the exception of the 1994 edition which was also cancelled).
This is not the end of the story, the list goes on and on.. but we wanted to make our agenda for this summer. Since we don’t want to make compromises and we want to see it all, we will sit in our mini beast and head off to some serious fun crawling. We will let you know how it goes!