EXIT Festival in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad has become one of Europe’s most famous festivals, with a reputation as an essential rite-of-passage weekender
As it approaches its 20th birthday in 2020, the festival is still innovating and branching out – but it will never forget its initial ethos of freedom, social change and youth rebellion at the beginning of the millennium. With its multiple international awards and an
EXIT Freedom 2018 | Official Aftermovie
A force for social change
Not many modern festivals have a backstory beyond a commercial enterprise, but EXIT was formed in the spirit of genuine youth rebellion. The festival started as a 100-day student protest in 2000 against the Milosevic regime, with an idea to “Exit out of the madness” and a movement for freedom in Serbia and peace in the Balkans. The festival’s mission statement was clear from the beginning – to achieve social change with music and foster openness with the rest of Europe and further afield. The growth of EXIT followed a long period of Serbian people feeling isolated from the rest of Europe, with young people especially embracing the change and
The Stunning Location
Petrovaradin Fortress is simply Europe’s greatest festival setting–
Petrovaradin Fortress is one of Serbia’s most cherished landmarks and is protected by the state, so it’s a nice touch that it’s handed over to its citizens every year for a huge party. And don’t forget the priceless bonus of the Serbian midsummer sunshine…
The whole city embraces EXIT
From the hundreds of official volunteers at the fortress to the good-natured street vendors on Varadin Bridge selling beers from buckets of ice or barbecued corn on the cob, Novi Sad welcomes EXIT like a returning best mate every summer. The city’s main squares and cobbled streets fly exit flags and banners, and many locals give up their apartments in prime spots, with reasonable deals available on local sites or through property companies. EXIT has had such a profound effect that the festival team ran the successful bid for Novi Sad to become the European City of Culture for 2021, as well as European Youth Capital in 2019.
Prepare to be stopped by many Serbians for a chat over the weekend – they’re dying to find out where you’re from and to thank you for visiting. It’s all a huge contrast from UK city festivals that are stifled by volume restrictions, suspicious locals and finishing times of
EXIT Freedom 2018 | Official Aftermovie
The wildly diverse line ups
If you quickly scan the EXIT line-up every year you’ll notice the massive names who’ve headlined, as well as top DJs and hyped acts, with Grace Jones, Liam Gallagher, The Killers, The Prodigy, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Arcade Fire, Pet Shop Boys and New Order just a few of the names who’ve visited Petrovaradin over the years. But dig deeper and you’ll find the most eclectic line-up of any festival in Europe, ranging from indie-rock and pop to techno, hip-hop, reggae, disco, folk and loads more, and if you’re brave enough, the heaviest metal on the planet at the infamous Explosive Stage. There are over 20 stages, not including random DJ sets and gigs in pop-up bars, archways,
The spectacular Dance Arena
Even though there is a specific Main Stage, the Dance Arena feels like the real jewel of EXIT, and the engine room that fuels the party till
Value for money
If you’re a UK festival veteran you’ll be allergic to overpriced tickets and food and drink costs that border on extortion rackets. But even though EXIT’s production values are off the charts – from the sound systems to the lasers shows, fireworks and performers – it’s by far the cheapest big league festival in Europe. Early bird four-day festival passes is only £99 – plus a group discount of 5 tickets for the price of 4. A camping pass is only £27 on top of that, and you can stay for a week. If you don’t fancy camping, local apartments are a fraction of the cost of Airbnb’s in many other big cities, and likewise if you’re really treating yourself to a hotel. Once you take into account the cheap food and drink at the festival and around the city, and even the flights, you will most likely spend less than a full weekend at a UK festival.
EXIT Festival will be held 4-7 July 2019 at Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, while the always diverse line-up will include The Cure, Greta Van Fleet, Carl Cox, Skepta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, DJ Snake, Desiigner, Lost Frequencies, IAMDDB, Sofi Tukker, Solomun, Tale of Us, Tom Walker, Maceo Plex, Charlotte De Witte, Boris Brejcha, Peggy Gou, Jeff Mills, Amelie Lens, Dax J, Phil Anselmo & The Illegals, Tarja Turunen, 65daysofstatic, The Selecter, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, Whitechapel, Atheist Rap, Arcturus, Total Chaos and many more to come soon.