The fifth anniversary of Croatia’s Hideout Festival was an experience all its own. Held on the beautiful Zrce beach on the island of Pag, the place is a perfect setting for a destination festival. A gravel beach gives way to the bluest water, complementing the views of the Croatian mountains in the background. Pag is a very dry island, so the landscape surrounding the beach looks almost lunar like you’ve stepped into another world. During the day the sun shines, and the temperature is hot, but attendees can cool off in the refreshing ocean or one of the many pools throughout the fest. In the evenings, the moon rises over the mountains and the sky turns 50 shades of rainbow, which reflect off the ocean in the most beautiful way. The sunrises are even more spectacular, taking place over the same arid Croatian mountains.
Hideout is set up like a massive beach party, and the stages are contained within five different beach clubs. A ticket grants attendees free access to all of the clubs, but one can also choose to play on the beach, swim in the water, rent jet-skis, floaties or boats, bungee jump, or participate in tons of other activities. Beach chairs and large umbrellas are provided for lounging, and little shaded tents for those who want to get out of the sun. As if that wasn’t enough, a ticket grants access to daily pool parties at several of the clubs, and there are options to buy boat party tickets also. There’s never a dull moment at Hideout, and it’s difficult to experience everything even though it’s over a week long.
Hideout is held on the island of Pag, Croatia near the city of Novalja. About an hour north of Zadar, the island’s climate is dry and arid. Festival attendees from out of the country usually fly into the nearest airport, which is in Zadar. From there, they can travel by bus, rent a car, or take a ferry. Pag transport operator Antonio Tours operates daily bus services from Zadar to Novalja, which takes about an hour and half. Those coming from other areas in Croatia can catch a bus in Split, Zagreb, and Rijeka, or hop on one of the ferries from the mainland. More info on getting to Pag can be found HERE.
There are several options when it comes to accommodations during Hideout festival. No matter which option you choose, I would recommend booking as far in advance as possible, as things tend to fill up fast. Accommodations can be booked through the festival itself which makes for an incredibly easy check in. An airport transfer takes these people to a check in point by the Novalja bus station. From there, attendees just show their accommodation e-ticket, passport and pay a security deposit before being taken to their assigned rooms. This is probably the easiest route to go if you’re willing to pay a bit more for convenience.
Another option is to book privately, and there are tons of properties available all over Novalja, Stara Novalja, and the surrounding towns. Check Air BnB for the best deals, and those on a budget can book a bit farther away from the festival at discounted prices. There are also hostels available for those on a budget, but those fill up incredibly fast. Lastly, there is camping available for the outdoorsy types, although it should be noted that it gets almost sweltering during the day on Pag (which might make camping uncomfortable for some).
As mentioned before, the stages are housed within five different beach clubs on Zrce, all within several yards of one another. Each has great sound, and each has a slightly different atmosphere. Kalypso was our favorite, as it was newly re-done this past year with brand new sound, lighting, and chill areas. The dance floor was spacious yet intimate, and there were two levels on which to view the stage, without a bad seat in the house. A little more out of the way was a fancy, newly redone pool, and deck area, which made for fantastic pool parties. Another favorite was Papaya, which also had amazing sound, a small pool, and multi-level dance floors on which attendees could see the stage. Farther from the stage was a bar and lounge area. Other clubs included Aquarius, Noa, and Euphoria, and each had their own unique vibe. It felt like being on spring break and hitting all of the different beach clubs, except with way better music and less drunken college kids. Perfection!
Food and Drink:
On the beach, there were several places to grab a bite to eat, from pizza, to chips and kabobs, to a full sit down restaurant. Overall, just casual beach food, which added to the ‘beach party’ vibe. Drinks were a little pricey in the clubs, and the real deals were outside of the major clubs on the beach. A couple of different beach bars sold 1-liter handmade cocktails for anywhere from 10 Euro to 15, depending on the selected drink. A super potent tequila sunrise from one establishment was enough to share, or last someone a couple hours! Definitely the best deal we found. Pro tip: you can’t bring these into the clubs, so don’t purchase one right before a set you want to see!
Hideout’s musical offering is eclectic, with everything from house and techno to rave, drum and bass, dubstep and minimal. Headliners for 2015 included Duke Dumont, Seth Troxler, Gorgon City, Eats Everything, and Jaime Jones, with tons more big names rounding out their stellar lineup. Other big names on the bill were Maceo Plex, Loco Dice, MK, Nina Kravitz, Sigma, Ten Walls, and Wilkinson.
One thing we love about Croatian festivals is the pure hedonistic spirit felt throughout the event. The mix of musicians chosen for Hideout fostered that atmosphere, making it almost impossible to stand still, and the vibes were contagious. Throughout the pool parties, boat parties, and nighttime showcases there was a non-stop party atmosphere.
As mentioned before, there are so many extra activities that can be added to the experience. For a little extra, guests can enjoy activities that one would find and any other epic beach party. Bungee jumping looked like one of the most daring activities, as festie-goers jumped off the extremely high platform, bouncing about over the water. There were also many people renting jet skis, floaties, and paddleboats, which looked really fun. There was a large blow-up, ‘the blob’, that launched willing participants into the ocean when their friends jumped down off of a platform.
There were also several boat parties each day that festival attendees could join. We got to check out the Metropolis boat party (featuring Wilkinson & MC AD-APT and Dimension), which was more drum and bass (although many were house, techno, and other styles of music). Our favorite of the day was Dimension who had a perfect mix of bass-heavy chill and crowd pumping anthems. Each boat party lasted about three hours, and took its guests on a little tour around the front of the island (the side that faces the ocean). The boats weren’t over-crowded, and the drinks were fairly priced. We heard people saying over and over how much fun they were having, and everyone was getting really into the music. As hot as it was outside, once the boats got moving the wind was enough so that the temperature was pleasant. Getting to see the crystal clear blue water and external views of the island while sipping cocktails and listening to great music was one of the highlights of our festival – and we highly recommend!
Things to do near Pag:
Croatia is an amazingly beautiful place, and anyone who has a little extra time should make a point of seeing the rest of the country before or after the fest. The city of Split isn’t far from Pag, and offers all of the big city amenities as well as amazing beaches, swanky restaurants, and a great nightlife.
Plivice Lakes National Park is a mere 2.5 hours drive from Pag, and is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Folks can camp, or choose to stay at one of the many pensions (like bed and breakfasts) in the area. From inside the park, there are magnificent hikes to more than six viewpoints, all of which resemble a magical fairy wonderland. Somehow, the lakes have strikingly blue water, which is crystal clear and complemented by green, healthy vegetation everywhere. One can see most of these in one day, although we would recommend staying at least two days to decompress after the fest.
The city of Dubrovnik is several hours from Pag, but is really worth the drive if time allows. A more lush landscape than Pag, Dubrovnik has beaches that are different but equally beautiful to Pag. There is also Old Town, which is one of the best-preserved medieval towns around today. Do yourself a favor and walk along the wall that surrounds Old Town.
The bottom line:
All in all, Hideout Festival 2015 was definitely one for the books. If you’re into house/techno/drum and bass music, beaches, a club atmosphere, and water activities, this is one you absolutely can’t miss. The fest was extremely organized and well produced, seemingly going off without a hitch! Don’t forget to check out a boat party while you’re there, and make sure you attend a pool party as well. Lastly, if you’re coming from outside of Croatia, make sure to give yourself a few days to explore their beautiful country!
Written by FestPop Staff Writer/Head of Communications