Tucked away on the tranquil shores of Lake Dojran in Macedonia, D Festival is Macedonia’s largest and most relaxed camping festival. The decade old fest features daytime performances in the campground, blissed out acts inside a church, international headliners on the main stage, and a tennis court rave that lasts until dawn.
Our first Macedonian festival! To say this is a treat is understatement as I’ve been a huge fan of this rugged country for years (one of my pandemic projects was hiking across Macedonia). D Festival, of course, has been on our radar as it combines everything we love about summer like camping, lakes, and music. Because of a packed schedule, I only managed two days at this super fun fest. Let’s see what went down!
Table Of Contents
Running the Numbers
Dates: July 1-3, 2022
MFW Beer Index: €1.04 (record low price!)
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 36C/18C (96.8F/65F)
Reusable Cups? No
Free Water Stations? Yes
The super chill and cozy campground (more on that below) is right on Lake Dojran and is where you start the day. The festivities kick off in the early afternoon with the campground stage and the nearby church overlooking the grounds. The main stage is located down the road about ten minutes in a parking lot. After catching the 4-5 headliners each evening, festies head back to the tennis courts at the campground for an all-night rave.
You will not find a shortage of genres at D Festival. I saw Macedonian rap, reggae, house music, progressive death metal, desert blues, hippie folk, and Balkan punk rock. So, a little bit everything for everyone.
Don’t tell the others, but I’ve always found Macedonians to be one of the friendliest group of folks in the Balkans, so no surprise that everybody here is easy to approach and gets along well. It’s a younger crowd for the most part at the campground, while at the main stage you will see a wider representation of ages. D Festival may be small, but it’s quickly growing in regional recognition, and I met festies from neighboring countries Serbia and Greece.
The Campground Scene
Possibly one of the best campgrounds I’ve ever fested at. It’s on the lake! Like a lot of Eastern European festivals, be prepared to camp so close to your neighbors you can touch their tent, but on the plus side, you’ll be close friends by the end of the weekend. The showers were a bit of a nightmare as they are basically open stalls with no privacy – you needed a friend to hold the shower curtain closed. Like any experienced festival goer, I skipped them all together and just went swimming in the lake every day. If you do camp, bring earplugs. The all-night banger on the tennis court feels like it’s inside your tent.
Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them
- Julian Marley
- Kultur Shock
- Dope Kukjata
- Zad Agolot
Festival MVP: Kultur Shock
Maybe because I’ve been living in the Balkans for so long, I’ve grown quite fond of this regional mash-up genre that takes traditional Romani music and crashes it into punk rock. It’s loud, crazy, and unhinged. Pretty much the perfect festival vibe.
We At Church: Perija
Haunting and atmospheric tunes from Perija. The acoustics of the half-finished church perfectly accompanied the chilled out music from this quartet. There’s something about a church that calms the wild animals that are festies. Either that or the steep 67 steps to the chapel.
Stoner Death Metal: Demency
Demency describes themselves as “lots of death metal, some progressive, and some jazz.” It’s all this plus a saxophone.
Most Intriguing: Tamikrest
Desert blues, a genre I’ve never heard of before this weekend, is the inspiration behind the music of Tamikrest. With group members hailing from Mali, Niger, Algeria and France, their mission is to make “Tamasheq poetry and culture accessible to inhabitants of a world larger than the immensity of the Saharian desert.” Mission accomplished.
Marley of the Week: Julian
I may have never seen Bob Marley live, but his children are continuing the tradition and Julian Marley took the stage Friday night for a huge crowd. While he kept away from most of his father’s most famous tunes, he did treat us to a rousing rendition of Jamming and Exodus.
Festival Fashion: Macedonian Edition
Calf high socks pulled up. It’s all the rage here.
MFW Awards 2022: Cheapest Festival Beer in the World
A pint of draft beer is $1.04 euro, the lowest price ever recorded at a festival since we started keeping records in 2015.
Time Truly is a Flat Circle
I was having a severe case at the main stage of déjà vu when I realized that I had been in this parking lot before. That abandoned building is still there and provided VIP seating for the adventurous during the festival.
Living That Beach Life
Yes, the lake at the campground is free, but I’m willing to splurge on a umbrella, chair, and a free drink with views of Greece that only costs $2! Now this is how you festival.
What’s the weather like? The interior Balkans get very toasty in the summer with a dose of afternoon thunderstorms. Pack a raincoat. Prepare for anything and remember that the sun comes up hot and early.
What’s the prime hours for music? Things start swinging in the campground around four in the afternoon with the main stage starting around 9 pm and running until about 2 am. The tennis court after-hours dance party at the campground lasts until dawn.
Where did you sleep? I camped in the lovely campground, but it was not the most restful sleep. An all-night festival is typical for the Balkans and while it’s ideal for cool-weather dancing, waking up a few hours later in a blazing hot tent is a special type of hell. The festival is located right in the center of Star Dojran, a summertime tourist hotspot where you will have no trouble finding accommodations (hopefully with some air-conditioning).
How do you get there? Catch one of the numerous buses (or less numerous trains) from Skopje or Thessaloniki to the city of Gevgelija ($3.50 USD). Catch a bus from there ($3.00 USD) or a taxi ($25 USD) to Star Dojran.
How is security? It’s not too heavy, but they will check your bags and no alcohol is allowed to be brought into the campground. There is a crew of undercover police that hang around outside the entrance to the main stage, but easy enough to avoid as they all wear black t-shirts, looks like angry cops, and roll in a large group.
If you want to visit one of my favorite countries in Europe – I ended up living here after the festival – then working in a trip that includes D Festival should be on the agenda. The lakeside camping, the village of Star Dojran, and the eclectic vibes of this budget-friendly fest is worth the trip. Look for the next edition of D Festival to take place typically during the first weekend of July.