Dimensions Beach Party (Ross Silcocks)Dimensions Beach Party (Ross Silcocks) © Copyright

Europe is one big party

THE GREAT BRITISH FESTIVAL is an institution. On average, we’ll commit to 1.5 weeks of great music, bad food and even worse weather per year, making pilgrimages to music Meccas such as Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading or Bestival.

We may now have reached ‘peak festival’ in the UK, and the creeping homogenisation of youth culture means they’re now one-size-fits-all safe bets for those not looking to rock the boat.

But you should be rocking the boat, preferably one with a massive soundsystem mounted on it, with your friends, somewhere off the Adriatic coast. That’s our advice, and the advice of Andy Lemay, too, who is the head of marketing and partnerships for Outlook festival and Dimensions festival, which take places this month in Pula, Croatia.
 

Dimensions Fort Party (Dan Medhurst)

 

“I think there’s something to be said for the holiday-festival format,” Lemay tells us. “Leaving the UK definitely adds to that experience. The fact that you’re guaranteed better weather is a bonus, but there’s more to it than that.

“There’s the different cultures you can experience, the food, languages and people. You can rave at night and chill out on the beach by day, or you can visit local tourist attractions such as the national parks. I can only speak for Croatia, but it’s really different.”

Outlook and Dimensions have both become synonymous with the newer movement of the ‘holiday festival’. It’s your summer holiday abroad and a festival experience all in one. Dimensions Festival, which turns five this summer, caters primarily for serious underground electronic music lovers, and showcases the biggest names in house, techno, disco and more.

The larger Outlook Festival, which takes place the week after Dimensions, has a broader scope, bringing vibes for hip-hop heads, grime lovers and dubstep aficionados, as well as offering up a healthy dash of dance.
 

Dimensions Boat Party (Ross Silcocks)

 

But what can you get from a festival abroad that you can’t find in the UK? After all, as vanilla as some UK festivals are, their line-ups have everything a European festival such as Outlook does – and then some. As Lemay explains, location has become just as important as programming.

“For us, the big selling points are really our venues,” Lemay says. “Try putting on an event in a 19th century fort or a Roman building in the UK; you wouldn’t get very far.”

While the festival scene in Croatia spikes in popularity, it’s barely ten years old and there’s still much to discover. The Balkans, though, already have form with events such as EXIT Festival in Serbia – originally a student protest movement against the then-Yugoslavian regime – and Sziget Festival in Hungary, one of the world’s best rock and alternative events. The area’s appeal is enduring.

The variety across Europe is spectacular: from the superclubs of Ibiza to sprawling scenes in the sun at Benicàssim, Spain, to traditional electronic music strongholds like Netherlands and Germany with well-curated line-ups and a city-festival format, there's a bit of something for everyone.

It can also be relatively cheap. Flights, tickets and accommodation for a week can set you back less than £300 – roughly the equivalent of a ticket plus travel to any major UK festival. Add cheap food and booze (even by festival standards), and an event such as Dimensions starts looking like a far more attractive option than getting pissed on for five days at Worthy Farm.

Don’t get us wrong, we love the big players in the UK, but institutions sometimes need reminding they have to mix it up or they’ll lose what little edge they have left. Dimensions had its inaugural UK day festival, Sunfall, last month to give punters a taste of what they’re missing out on in Croatia this summer. So look east. Look south. Look to the continent for your next adventure. We’ll see you in the sun.

Images: Ross Silcocks/Dan Medhurst

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