On a secluded beach off the coast of Croatia, Hideout said ‘hello world’ in 2010 with one of the most unique festival venues I’ve seen. Five different purpose built, open air clubs line Zcre Beach on the Island of the Pag. The arena swings around a lake and the backdrop is a collection of majestic mountains. It’s a pretty surreal experience to be raving with some of your favourite DJ’s in the world and turn around to that view. (All images are my own).
Why go to Hideout?
Amazing country and venue
Seriously though, Croatia in general rivals Hawaii on the beauty scale of places I’ve been. The Dalmatian Coast is incredible and if you do chose to go to a festival here I’d recommend seeing more of the country. We did a little tour of the country either side of the festival and it was well worth it.
There’s an Elrow club
If you haven’t experienced the Elrow movement yet, you need to. It’s a cross between carnival, and one of those shops where you get every kind of inflatable waterproof animal for the sea known to man. At one point I was trying to find people we’d met and the whats app conversation went something like this: “can you see the guy with blow up purple octopus, under the dummy on the flying carpet”. It’s honestly the best kind of mental ever.
You don’t have to camp
YES TFFT! It would be way too hot anyway – make sure your place has decent air con or you’ll probably die. We stayed in an air B and B in Novalja, which is definitely the best place to stay for the festival. Try to find an apartment that is near to the Zcre beach side of the town otherwise you may have to walk quite a distance for the shuttle buses.
Pool parties and boat parties
The days are incredible at Hideout!! Some of our favourite parties were at the pools in the clubs or even just on the surrounding beach. Pool Parties start around lunchtime and finish up about 6pm. You’ve got loads of time to go back to your place, do whatever you feel like, then head out again later for the festival at night. All the pool parties are included in your festival ticket price.
So………in my opinion, boat parties are always a hit or a miss. We had booked the Bicep boat party (boat parties cost extra), but we gave it a swerve after a big night the night before, and my god were we glad that we did.After getting up we walked down to the sea to grab a bite and make ourselves feel better. From the restaurant we could see there was nearly 100 people waiting to get on this relatively small boat. Everyone waiting managed to get on – it was like some kind of magic trick and absolutely rammed. We couldn’t have handled with that. Plus, Lisa got a tiny bit sea sick on the boats from Dubrovnik…….if you or any of your mates are prone to being spewey lewey’s, I wouldn’t even attempt a boat party. You’re out on the sea for around 4 hours in the baking sun and once you’re out………..you’re there for the duration. Having said that, we knew other people that went on the boat parties and absolutely loved it!
Throughout the summer you’re pretty much guaranteed blazing sunshine. We were there last summer (2016) and it was a heatwave. The temperature sat around 30-35 degrees – which was HOT, but typically it’s high twenties and there’s no humidity.
Five holidays in one
It’s really easy to get around in Croatia, the buses and catamaran boat taxis are super efficient and cheap. We flew in and out of Dubrovnik, traveling by boat, up the coast to Split, then on to the Island of Pag and back again, stopping at other islands on the way.
Our local travel cost around £100 each round trip – which is pretty good considering we caught 4 buses, 3 different boats, a taxi and traveled nearly the length of the country. The island of Hvar is a must for the way the home and the perfect place to chill out post festival. We took nearly three weeks and by the time we got back, felt totally refreshed.
Its safe and friendly
My friend Lisa and I traveled on our own and met up with other friends at the festival. We always felt very safe and the people in Croatia are welcoming and really helpful. Everyone spoke excellent English and made a real effort to ask where we had been and if we were enjoying our holiday, giving us recommendations for things to do and places to eat.
The festival isn’t too big
Some festivals are almost overwhelming because of their scale. Hideout, and the other festivals that take place on Zcre beach are a nice size. I think last year there was about 10-12 thousand people there (and it never felt like that). The area is easy to navigate – you literally can’t get lost…..well, famous last words. Each of the five clubs along the beach has its own music theme, try them all, Noa and Elrow were my favourites.
There’s a festival app!
Everyone loves an app don’t they. This one is basically an electronic version of the line up so you never miss an act you want to see. I want to say the bus routes were on there too but I’m not sure.
Croatia is a change from Ibiza and less than half the price
Our festival tickets were £140 each for the week. The festival lasts 5 full days and you can go in and out each club as you please. That also includes entry to the club in Novalja where the opening party is held, and this opens every night too for pre-arena parties – it’s actually a great meeting point. The drinks are reasonable, about £10 for a jug of cocktail. The currency is the Croatian Kuna so an advantage on the Euro. For the cost of the festival, plus traveling around Croatia for nearly 3 weeks, we would have struggled to stay a week in Ibiza for the same price. But………..there’s no place on earth like Ibiza, and I’m going back in August for………the sixth time. Whoops. You can get your Hideout tickets from the Hideout website.
What to expect from the festival
The variety of different acts was impressive, you’re spoilt for choice. You know you’re having a good day when the biggest problem in life is whether to go see Jackmaster or the Black Madonna! There’s some R&B and grime too if that’s your thing.
Gorgon City totally pulled it out the bag at Aquarius and were the best surprise of the festival for me – they smashed out a chunky tech house set and the atmosphere that night was euphoric. So, what I’m trying to say is – don’t rule anything out because you might be blown away by someone who doesn’t obviously fit into your line up most-wanted-list.
It’s a very British Festival – which can be good and bad – I quite like when festivals have a mix of nationalities because it makes for really interesting ‘new friend making’ – we met some top people there though. The age group varied from around 21-32 (ish) and we never felt ‘old’ there even though we were reaching the top of that range, ha!
The atmosphere is relaxed with minimal security but enough festival attendants and bar staff to make sure everyone is safe and never waiting long for a drink, which was a real bonus.
The ticket / wrist band exchange is like a military operation, you don’t have to wait around for long. We got our wristbands as soon as the Hideout bus dropped us at Novalja bus station (which picked us up from Zadar airport). This was a good idea because the lines were relatively short, as we got there the day before, and once you’ve got them, you don’t need to worry about anything else.
How to get to Hideout
To be honest…….it can be a mini mission to get to the festival if you’re going straight there from Scotland. From England and other parts of Europe it’s much easier. The closest airport is Zadar, Hideout run really good bus links from all major airports in Croatia (you can even ‘Hideout bus it’ from the UK…..but you’d need to be pretty brave for that one).
We booked a Hideout bus from Zadar through the Hideout website. The Hideout staff meet you and put you on your allocated bus. Our driver was Croatian (we sat right at the front, because we’re cool like that) and after half an hour we were his best mates – we got a guided audio tour for free. The bus stops once for a toilet and ice cream break and including the stop, takes nearly 3 hours…….the bus driver chooses the music………so keep your headphones on you.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can fly to Venice and get a ferry over to Croatia, or drive through Europe. Seeing some of the country either side of the festival breaks up the trip, which would have taken about 9 hours had we come straight from Scotland.
Top Festival Tips
Take the bank card you bought the tickets with, and your passport, to wrist band exchange – they are really strict on that and won’t hand out wristbands without this proof.
Buy a fan. Its roasting in the day, especially on the festival shuttle buses, and everyone who saw us with them asked to borrow them. You don’t really want to be a hot sweaty mess before you’ve even started partying.
Start taking Centrazine before you leave. This is an antihistamine and will stop you getting eaten alive by bugs – there are loads of mosquitoes. I’ve tried and tested loads of things around the world and this is the only thing that works. (Top tip from a hippy we met in Thailand). Take them five days before you go somewhere hot and every day whilst you’re away.
You need a shuttle bus pass. Yes, it’s an additional cost but 100% worth it – you can’t walk to the arena from Novalja, walking would take well over an hour each way. The bus takes 10 minutes and has different coloured lines. We got on the wrong line once but you can’t get lost because all routes do one big loop back to the arena where you can switch for the right one.
Baroccas and re-hydration sachets will save your life. You also need to sleep….and eat. The festival lasts nearly a week, so pace yourself. I would 100% go back to Croatia for a festival, we had a blast.
Watch out for
Scorpions. Seriously! Croatia has Scorpions. We had one in our bathroom which we had to get rid of Indiana Jones style. There are also loads of tortoise…..which are super cute and make up for the creepy crawlys.