Travel | #SendMeAway to Eastern Europe’s music festivals
As the former editor of This Festival Feeling, and an avid festival goer – my mind never strays far from the topic. I’ve now spent over a year backpacking around Asia and Australia, but haven’t yet been to a festival! It seems shocking behaviour for the girl who managed to attend seven festivals in the year before I came backpacking and several more in the years previous to that. I just love festivals, from the amazing music and locations to the creativity and stunning art pieces, to unusual theatre performances and fantastic characters you meet along the way. It’s like entering another world where you can be anyone you want to be and everyone is just as welcoming, happy and beautiful as the people you meet when travelling. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been too upset at missing festivals so far, because the travelling experience is much like living in a festival every single day, but I have to say, after a year I am getting a bit antsy. It’s this time of year, once Christmas is out of the way, my mind always turns straight to festival season and which ones I’m going to be attending. This year is no different, I know that there are many amazing Australian festivals going on while I’m working in the outback which is annoying timing – I’ve missed the annual Falls Festivals and will be missing Rainbow Serpent in a few weeks. But instead of moping, I’m looking at which ones I will be able to do. Just a week or two after I arrive in Melbourne the St Kilda Festival will be happening which sounds like a fantastic celebration of music, arts and culture – plus it’s free!The team at Icelolly.com have asked me to write about my dream holiday destinations of 2016 to be on with a chance of winning £1000 towards the holiday and an Olympus Pen E-PL7 camera which would be the most incredible prize. These cameras are amazing and I’ve loved the idea of getting one for a while – not always practical for a backpacker who is living on a budget – and the £1000 towards further travel would be an incredible bonus. After reaching my one year anniversary of travelling and making the decision not to return home but to keep travelling and exploring the world around me, I started to think about my next year on the road and where I will end up. Of course all plans are always open to change as a backpacker, we are known for our habit of changing everything at the drop of a hat, but that’s one of the luxuries we gain when giving up everything to travel. I love the freedom that comes with this lifestyle. At the moment I have a vague plan that I will be returning home to England in May when my first year Australian visa runs out, it will be perfectly timed so I can spend my 26th birthday with my friends and family at home and I can’t wait to see everyone. After spending a couple of months at home catching up with everyone and heading to a few festivals, I will hopefully have a bit of money put aside for a little jaunt round Europe to visit some amazing friends I’ve met since travelling and see their home countries. Places like Paris, Berlin, parts of Holland and Denmark could all be on the list and I’ll be backpacking the whole way. I’m hoping all this works out and I have enough money to really make this happen.I know my whole life sounds like a holiday but it really will be nice by then to have a break from Australia and to get back to European culture for a little while. One thing I will really love is heading to a few festivals because the UK and Europe really has that amazingly creative and quirky style when it comes to festivals that I really love. After going to Hideout Festival in Croatia a few years ago and having the most amazing time, I was keen to explore some other great festivals in Europe but never had the time/money to do it. If I won the £1000 I would use it to visit two top festivals on my list: EXIT Festival in Serbia leading to the new Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro, followed by Sziget in Budapest, Hungary. Nestled in Eastern Europe, they are countries I’ve wanted to explore for a while and around the festivals I would use the time to see as much as possible. The multi-award winning EXIT Festival took the title of Best Major European Music Festival at the EU Festival Awards in 2013 and it’s easy to see why, held annually at the Petrovaradin Fortress I would argue it has one of the most incredible locations for this huge range of acts to perform. People from around 60 countries around the world flock to the festival grounds each year to watch the magic unfold and that’s what I love, the diversity of the people you will meet along the way. I love that EXIT has a unique purpose behind it after starting as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy in Serbia – that is what festivals are all about.By taking part in the EXIT Adventure, you get the opportunity to attend two award-winning festivals across two countries in 10 days. I would get to party in this incredible fortress in Novi Sad followed by the stunning Jaz Beach in Montenegro – last year over 300,000 people attended. The festivals have previously hosted acts including The Arctic Monkeys, The Prodigy, Emile Sande, Andy C, Skrillex, Soul Clap, Bondax and many more – all acts I would love to see live! And the best thing about all of these, is that there would be plenty of time to arrive at the festival beforehand so I would be able to explore the fortress and the catacombs that lay beneath, to find out about the amazing history and the ghosts that lay down there. History lines the streets of this part of Northern Serbia where one building still holds a cannonball jutting from its walls where if was fired back in 1849. For the beach bum in me it would be wrong not to enjoy one of Europe’s best Danube beaches before heading to Fisherman’s Island for some fish goulash, the local delicacy. And with four daily markets across the city, I wouldn’t be able to resist a browse before heading to Laze Telečkog for some local live music. After a busy week exploring Serbia, Jaz Beach will be the perfect place to relax, this underdeveloped area will be great for unwinding and enjoying a whole other set of acts performing in the same place huge acts like the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Madonna and Lenny Kravitz have previously played.Then it would be on to a destination that has been on my bucket list for a long time – Budapest, Hungary. With Sziget Festival seen as the Hungarian jewel in Europe’s festival crown, it is an event that is often compared to Burning Man – one of my ultimate dreams to attend. Getting to combine one of the countries I most want to visit with a festival is a fantastic opportunity to see the city in two very different lights – first of all a cultural and historical context followed by seeing how they really party. With countless stunning buildings to visit and view from Parliament to the Basilica, I can tell that just walking the streets with be an experience in itself but with plenty of walking tours on offer it will be a great way of learning more about the history that lies right in front of you. There’s so many amazing museums to explore and I have to admit, I love a museum, especially the quirky ones that teach you about a history you never knew existed. I love a good trip to the spa and after three festivals I think I’ll be in need to some TLC so I’ll be heading to Szechenyi Baths and Pool for a visit and a chance to relax. All these amazing activities will take place around the iconic Sziget Festival which will take place on an island in the middle of the Danube river featuring a huge range of acts from hard rock to dance, this year’s line-up so far includes Bastille, Bloc Party, Bring Me The Horizon, Chvrches, John Newman and Kodaline. The line-up is amazing but for me the real draw would be the activities on offer and the huge range of art from The Hands of Unity to the Magic Field, the landscape is transformed by these beautiful structures.To say I’m excited talking about a trip like this is an understatement – writing this has made me miss festivals more than ever and I can just imagine the amazing experience that would come with this trip. From the people you would meet and the things you would see, to the culture you would experience along the way. It would be the Eastern European trip of a lifetime and the winner would get an opportunity to capture every single moment with an amazing camera to share it with everyone who came along for the ride. The beautiful thing about blogging is that every single one of you who reads these posts would be there with me experiencing everything along the way, so let’s hope I get lucky and win so we can make this trip a reality! I have to nominate another three bloggers to write about their dream trip so I choose: Chelsea of Loving Life in Wellies, Steph of Big World Small Pockets and Nick and Amy of What the Pho Podcast – enjoy guys!
Where would your dream trip take you? Are any European music festivals on your bucket list?