Authors: Emilija Georgievska
Are music festivals becoming the new youth summer getaway?? At least, that is what the number of visitors of these events is showing lately. Youngsters, all around the world, pack their bags and hit the road to the most designated music program offered. From “Sziget” and “Ozora” in Hungary, “Glastonbury” in England, “Roskilde” in Denmark, “INmusic” in Croatia to “EXIT” in Serbia, the choice of artists to see and listen to is mind-blowing and often very difficult to choose between. However, for the people living in the Balkans there is no time to hesitate – for all the party lovers, “EXIT” festival is the place to be. And that is where I spent part of my holiday this summer.
Situated in Novi Sad, on the Petrovaradin Fortress, “EXIT” gathers around 2 million visitors each year. Four days hosted by a representative from every music genre possible, flawless organization, food and drinks of every kind, and most important of all – positive energy. There are approximately 20 stages, each offering different approaches to music and art in general and vast spaces enough for everybody to dance till they drop. And if you ask the “festival” people what is the main reason why they came to “EXIT”, they will tell you that the line-up is not that important as much as the meeting new people, dancing, joking around or getting to like new genres.
This year the main acts were “Arcade Fire”, “Jamiroquai”, “Beirut”, “Portishead”, Nick Cave and many more. Apart from these main stage performances, the Dance Arena is one of the most crowded stages of all. Although electronic music is not my cup of tea, for the first time in my life I spent every night there, so the atmosphere was incredible. And that is what “EXIT” is about – trying out things that you thought you would never like.
Since the program offers a wide range of music genres, each act is a unique experience. Basically, it is not all about the music that is played, but the whole package of light effects, sound effects and the omnipresent enthusiasm of the crowds is what turn the performances into unforgettable memories. My favorite acts this year were the ones by “Arcade Fire”, “Portishead” and the British DJ Boddika.
This festival actually functions as a separate state. You can stay over at the “EXIT” Village, that is the camp; you can only use the “EXIT” money, called tokens, so that you can buy food and beverages etc. The concept is well designed and it definitely makes you feel as if you belong to a different country.
One of the opportunities that “EXIT” offers is the volunteering, for which any young person aged 18-26 can apply. You can be part of the “EXIT” staff for four days and hang around with people from everywhere. Elena Gjorgjievska is a young girl from Macedonia who volunteered this year and this is what she said about the experience:
“I was planning to go on the festival anyway, but when I saw the ad, I applied immediately because it was something new and interesting, and I still have the chance to listen to all the bands I wanted. I had the luck to get chosen from a pool of 5000 applicants and be part of the festival that is one of my favorites. I must say that the organization of the festival has improved a lot, and now I see why it was chosen as the best festival in Europe. When it comes to the volunteering itself, I will remember it as one of the best experiences in my life. Mainly because of the friends I made there, since all the volunteers arrived three days earlier than the opening and we had a lot of time to get to know each other. We also went through some trainings and lectures, so that we can work more efficiently. If you ask for my opinion, I would definitely advise you to apply as a volunteer because you meet different people, learn new skills and practices and still have the time to enjoy the music program.”
All in all, the scale of everything—the large, hilly fortress the festival takes place upon, the promise of four days of music, the 20 stages, the 500+ artists performing to a quarter million people—is enormous. And so it is the pressure and zeal you feel when entering the gates of this festival paradise. As the description of the “EXIT” website says “Apart from quality music program that it offers, the festival is a place of wild fun…” and bunch of love, happiness, smiling faces and amount of energy enough to turn the world upside down. So, would you dare to miss the next “EXIT”??