Right I’m going to start doing some reviews of the events and festivals that we’ve been to and are planning to go to, there are a few! Kicking off with a controversial one this year – Ultra Europe in Croatia – from what I’ve seen from feedback after this years festival, it’s a bit like marmite, some people have come away loving it and some hated it …
We went to Ultra Europe for the 1st time last year (2015) and loved it, even more than Ultra Miami, and so decided we would go back again this year. Both times we have flown out on the Wednesday prior to the festival so we can chill before the festival starts and then have a few days after to catch up on sleep and see some of Croatia. Highly recommend this approach otherwise you are knackered, and definitely won’t get to see any of Croatia!!
Ultra Europe is one of the few festivals, as far as I know, that runs until 5am on all 3 nights of the festival. This is one of the main reasons I love this festival. Music finishing at 11pm or midnight as it does at Creamfields and others, just feels way too early for me. The festival starts at 6pm each evening, you start raving as the sun goes down, rave through the darkness and are still raving as the sun starts to rise. It also mean means you have time in the day to do whatever you like, sleep, beach, sightseeing …
Last year the festival happened whilst Croatia was in the midst of a heatwave and temperatures were high 30 degrees celsius / low 40’s. This year however, on the friday – the first day of the festival – the Split region had one of the worst storms that they’ve had for a few years. Which no-one could do anything about, and was just sheer unlucky for them but they could’ve handled the situation slightly better I think. For some people though, the cancellation has totally put them off the festival completely.
What went wrong – mainly UE’s communication about what was happening. They didn’t really update us – still at 10pm in the evening, the holding message was “we need to delay the start of the festival”. By 10.15pm we were starting to hear rumours that the first day was cancelled – security were telling people at the gates of the stadium that it was cancelled for safety reasons. 11pm and UE still hadn’t made an official announcement.
What they did to try and make up for the cancelled day:
- Started Saturday 5hrs earlier and managed to get most of the MainStage headliners to play on the Saturday afternoon ahead of day 2 starting. Huge love and respect for the DJs that stuck around and played amazing sets that afternoon.
- Offered people who had only got a friday or friday and saturday ticket, access to all of the festival (sat and sun)
- Have now opened a refund scheme, this is done via application – they haven’t said how much the refund will be for but I would think it will be less than one third of the price of a 3 day ticket.
I think this year was a one-off, Mother Nature has played her hand at many festivals … it’s just you don’t expect it in Croatia in July!! So if you’re considering going – give it a chance and don’t let some of the negative press it’s gotten, put you off. To help, here’s my attempt at an objective view of whether UE is a festival for you.
You’ll love Ultra Europe if:
- You love festivals and Ibiza. This festival is a mix of both. Raving all night in a festival atmosphere, and then summer holiday vibe with beach and sleeping in the sun during the day. My idea of PERFECT!
- You like slightly smaller festivals, rather than something as big as Tomorrowland where they have many, many stages that you have to navigate around. Ultra had 4 stages this year, the main one in the stadium and then 3 smaller ones outside of the actual stadium but within the stadium grounds. Sometimes too much choice / DJ’s causes me stress – having to decide, trying to run around them all etc.
- You want to go to other parties either side of the festival. Ultra Europe actually runs for a full week with opening parties, the yacht regatta, the beach party and the closing party happening either side of the festival. So that’s a full 7 nights of Ultra organised events that you can go to (incl the festival). And thats not to mention the unofficial Ultra parties happening in and around Split
- You love dark chocolate. Split has loads of ice cream parlours and some have the most amazing dark chocolate ice cream. This is one of the main reasons we go haha!!! Sooooo good.
Maybe give Ultra Europe a miss if:
- You only enjoy smooth running, well organised festivals, where things don’t go wrong. This year there were problems with the wristband payment systems, last year some problems with the gated barriers and swiping in and out with the wristband ..
- You only want to see the big, popular headliners. Yes UE has big headliners, but not as many as you’ll see at Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Ultra Miami …. I like UE for this reason – I find new DJs that I love.
- You like having lots of stages with amazing lighting shows. UE has one big main stage which has a decent lighting set up, but the other stages are smaller and more subtle. So if it’s all about the ‘show’ then UE might not be for you.
We love Ultra Europe and will probably be going back again next year if we can work that and Tomorrowland into the schedule.
I’d love to know which other festivals we need to be visiting, drop suggestions in the comments.x