As much fun as it’s been to step onto the weathered fields of Worthy Farm for the past few years, the impending fallow and subsequent move of the legendary festival distinctly feels like the end of an era, and revellers are starting to look further afield for next year’s summer fun.
Though European festivals have long been a mainstay of music and party loving Brits, Exit has so far remained somewhat unknown; sidestepping the sheen that bigger festivals have taken on and retaining its rough-around-the-edges-charm.
One of the best things about it is that it’s relatively unheard of. If you say you’re going to Exit, you’ll get nothing more than a blank stare from the headband wearing Coachella hippies – it’s the music nerds and off-the-beaten-track travellers that’ll nod in recognition, stating as they stare mistily eyed into the distance “yeah, I’ve been there… it was crazy”. It’s easy to see why.
What’s it like?
Nestled in the grounds of the Petrovaradin Fortress on the banks of the River Danube, Exit is a sprawling mass of glowing tunnels and cavernous moat beds set up as stages (there are 20 in all) playing everything from dance and pop to heavy metal and reggae.
Due to the unbearable heat of summer days in Serbia, the partying commences at dusk (when temperatures are still at a sweat-inducing 30 degrees) and doesn’t wind down until way past dawn, so be prepared to power through the night. Thanks to the inordinate amount of dust, expect to get dirty – anyone wearing pretty dresses and Hunter wellies will quickly regret it. This is a place to go and see, not to go and be seen.
How did it start?
Started in 2000 by Dušan Kovačević as a student movement in response to the oppression of Serbian communism and the Bosnian war, Exit is a celebration of freedom that brings together people from over 60 countries. After welcoming over 40,000 visitors this year, it has definitely evolved from its early days but still retains its core values of acceptance and progression.
Following its success, the organisers have now ventured further afield and this year introduced the brand new Sea Dance festival in Montenegro – a beach based carnival that Exit goers stumble to, bleary eyed, when the Novi Sad party is over.
What kind of music is it?
The main stage is a perfect reflection of the eclectic music tastes of Serbian youth, with everyone from Liam Gallagher to Foreign Beggars playing there. But despite it pulling in the bigger headliners, the real treasures were to be found at the Dance Arena where thousands of revellers descended into what was effectively a dust bowl to see legends such as Black Coffee and Robin Schulz mix amongst a mesmerising light show.
Those not keen on dance music can find fun elsewhere – the silent disco sits in a jelly-fish like dome and continues throughout the night and over on Fusion you’ll find some of Serbian’s finest bands pumping out raucous hits.
Thanks to the night time party atmosphere and wonderfully cheap beer, it’s easy to fully immerse yourself in this slightly surreal place and get lost in the incredible surroundings, where a new discovery is tucked into every available nook and cranny.
Quickly taking off as one of those bucket-list events, Exit has become dizzyingly wild whilst somehow remaining charmingly innocent. Thanks to the friendliness of the locals, it’s a festival that people from all walks of life attend to delight in good beats and have a great time.
Whether you love that kind of music or not, one thing’s for certain – Serbians definitely know how to throw a party.