Where Are You This Week: The Croatian festival scene has exploded in the last five years with electronic music fests leading the charge. Previously sleepy beach towns now boast some of the craziest parties in Europe. I’m here in the Istria peninsula to check out the fifth anniversary of the Dimensions Festival.
Tell Me About The Festival: Dimensions is the opening act to the much larger Outlook Festival which takes place the following weekend. Both festivals rage at the same venue, an abandoned fort that’s been rehabbed into EDM heaven. A vibrant campground, wild boat parties, and bikini filled beach stages round out an intense five days of festivaling.
Estimated Attendance: 8,000
Lineup Sampler: Moodyman, Massive Attack, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ben Klock, Gilles Peterson
What Makes This Festival Stand Out: Croatia. As a backdrop to your festival weekend, Croatia is a picture perfect postcard. You’re guaranteed to have bluebird days on the beach, dipping your toes in the Adriatic Sea, or partying on one of the many boat rides. The whole “festival-in-a-fort/party-in-an-ancient-amphitheater” vibe is something you won’t find in other countries.
Tell Me About the Venue: The opening night of the festival, a separately ticketed event, happens at the Pula Arena, a Roman amphitheater built in 68 AD. After Wednesday night, the party moves out to the festival grounds at Punta Christo, an abandoned fort from 1836 that has been reclaimed by the organizers into a festival playground.
Who Attends This Festival: This is a British festival that happens to take place in Croatia. The organizers of the fest are Brits and the Dimensions lineup features heavily on the best underground electronic scene happening around the UK.
What Would You Change: Refund my tokens! Like other festivals that use a token payment system, I find myself on the final night having to do math at three in the morning so I’m not stuck on Monday morning with a pocket full of worthless plastic chips. Dimensions also needs to dial down the security checkpoints — I was checked at five different points on my way to one of the shows.
The MFW Beer Index: $4.20 for a beer.
Payment System: Dimensions uses a token system, but unlike other fests, they don’t invent up a different conversions for their plastic currency — $100 in cash equals $100 in tokens.
Family Friendly Factor: 0 out of 10. Dimensions is 18+. Sorry.
Would You Return: Absolutely. After twelve festivals in a row, I didn’t have the full energy to truly embrace Dimensions in all its insane glory. I’ll be back to this one if only to check out the campground experience and to spend more time on the beach.
Details, Details, Details
Where is it and How Hard is to Get There: Pula does have an airport, but flights are expensive around festival time. Your best bet is to fly to Zagreb and catch a bus ($18/4 hours) to Pula. There’s a ferry from Venice ($59/3.5 hours) if you want to work a backpacker cruise into your travels.
Where Do I Sleep: The festival grounds are 10 kilometers north of Pula and I recommend booking accommodations through the official website. Options at Dimensions include camping, apartments, and even a hostel. Having said that, I stayed in Pula at the Riva Hostel and lived like a baller with air conditioned dorm rooms and a beautiful rooftop terrace.
Getting To and From the Festival: There’s a semi-reliable city bus ($1.50 during the day/$3.00 at night) that takes about twenty minutes. You’re better off pulling together a small group and hiring a cab ($15-$20), but make sure to haggle out the deal beforehand as the cabbies will try to rip you off. If you’re staying at the festival accommodations, it’s just a short walk to nearly everything.
Eating and Drinking: There’s decent food on the festival grounds ($5-$10) and some options for vegetarians besides french fries. If you need a break, duck into Pula for an afternoon and grab some calamari or pizza ($7-$9) at one the numerous restaurants.