Like hundreds of festival fans who've spent the last few days unwinding from Croatia's Garden Festival, VF is heading east, across the Serbian border to EXIT Festival in the town of Novi Sad. Organisers
here say they're noticing a real explosion in festival fans attending Garden as part of a European tour, and what better way to warm up for the mind-blowing EXIT, winner of last year's 'Best European Festival' in the UK Festival Awards. We met one group of guys who came straight to Garden from Glastonbury, literally left the Worthy Farm gates on Monday morning before driving five days across Europe and down to the Balkans. We politely declined a lift from them, reckoning the eight hour drive might smell some, and have instead opted for a lift with a group from Birmingham who we met in a bombed out bar last night. It literally had no roof, allowing for warm-breezed views over the small village of Petrcane, home of Garden Festival, for many since last Thursday.
We'll certainly miss this place, despite it being almost empty of festival goers now. Like all the best parties, Garden Festival takes a while to actually finish. Officially it was Sunday night, Sunday night turned into Monday morning as we danced to some of the best music of the whole weekend, courtesy of the brilliant DJ Dennis Ferrer, and then two unofficial boat parties were held on Monday afternoon, as well. Those who've made the trip tend to stick around and enjoy some gentle village life following the days and nights of hedonism on boat parties and dance floors. The chilled holiday atmosphere, chatting to new found friends about fun times shared over huge, fresh fish platters, is as much part of being here as jumping round the beach terrace on a Saturday afternoon. The locals, too, embrace this side of the experience and are among the most welcoming festival hosts you could ever encounter, during and after. If you just come here for the weekend you'll be missing out. Garden Festival can be a holiday, a halfway house, a springboard for EXIT – or all three – but it in a time very much of its own and a unique and special one at that.
So time to leave the Petrcane peninsula for a Pertovian fortress. Onto EXIT tonight for what's going to be another eye-opening European encounter. We'll keep you posted on all the goings on, including sets by Sex Pistols, Weller and NERD, before we move north up to Slovakia for Povoda festival next weekend, for the final leg of our Eastern Europe odyssey.