Festival culture is consistently gaining popularity. There are more and more converters all the time, and more and more festivals popping up to satiate their needs. It’s not uncommon when the snow starts to melt and the rays start to shine to begin dreaming of festival season, and planning one’s summer pilgrimage from party to party, festival to festival.
One festival stands out in my mind as the ultimate party. As a serious lover of drum and bass, reggae, hip-hop and all the sub-genres in between, Outlook Festival in Croatia looks to be the unparalleled musical good time party mecca. However, like many North Americans, I have no idea how to even begin planning a trip of this magnitude. I’ve never been to Europe; I don’t speak another language; I’m not made of money; and despite being extremely well-connected at home, I have no homies across the ocean… Basically my brain is full of questions and ‘what-ifs’. Will I be ok traveling with a girlfriend? Where should we stay? Are pickpockets actually a concern? How much is this going to cost? What do I actually need to be able to do this?
If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to take the plunge into European festival life, regardless of the various nagging doubts. Fortunately for all of us, there are those that have come before and those that have come before often have tips. In this case, the tips will be coming from an Outlook veteran and all around top dude from my hometown, Chrys Goldberg aka Constance. Vinyl connoisseur and globe-trotting festival goer, Constance has put together a list of tips for Outlook first timers, particularly geared towards North American scum like myself.
Getting There – “Frankfurt is a really good central place to use as a travel hub,” says Constance. “There’s an airline called Condor that’s pretty cheap.” In years past he’s been able to get to the festival for just over $700 using this route. “From Frankfurt it’s pretty easy to grab a train to Trieste, then a bus to Pula and make your way to the festival site.”
Shoes – Under no circumstance think it’s ok to rock open toed shoes at Fort Punta Christo. Bring something more heavy-duty, as there’s treacherous uneven rocky ground EVERYWHERE. “They won’t even let you in with flip-flops,” says Constance. “It’s a definite march from stage to stage over rocky terrain, and injuries are rampant.” Stubbed toes and twisted ankles are a reality at this venue so be prepared for that.
Boat Parties – DO NOT MISS OUT ON THESE! According to Constance these are one of the dopest things about Outlook. Nothing but vibes on the boat parties. “If you miss out on tickets, just show up to the boat party anyways. Sometimes people bail or are selling their tickets, and you can still get on.” Alternatively, he suggests getting tickets to ANY boat party, even if it’s not the one you initially wanted. They’re just that rad. Boat party tickets go on sale well before the festival, so be ready, and buy them fast. Boat party tickets are named now as well, so be aware if you buy one from someone their name will be on it, and there could be implications that go along with that. Basically just don’t miss out at the beginning and you’ll be good to go.
Boat parties have been announced, and there are some real doozies. It’s honestly a little overwhelming, some of the line ups are unbelievable! Shogun, Metalheadz, Dispatch, Exit, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Scotch Bonnet … all in the intimate environment of a yacht.
Meeting Artists – “Artists at Outlook are very accessible,” says Constance. “They walk around all the time.” If you’re dying to get your vinyl signed it’s not an unreasonable expectation (but beware the heat). Constance met lots of admired artists throughout his years at Outlook, including his favourite DJ, Break. “He was a well good chappy,” says Constance.
Cell Phones – Get a cell phone there. They’re relatively cheap, and then you’re not going to get yours stolen/lost. “My iPhone was pickpocketed in a crowded dancefloor mosh pit,” says Constance. “You’re much better off just getting one there.”
Pickpockets – These exist. According to Chrys, you have to look at it from the standpoint that most of the people there are good, however, some of them are hard up. If you make yourself an easy target, you’re going to get shit stolen. Don’t flash money. Use discretion. Trust your instincts. For men, he suggests an underarm type wallet so you can always feel your stuff, for women, front facing fanny packs or inside pockets work. “Just be aware,” says Chrys.
Lockers – Instead of using backpacks, the festival site has lockers. They fill up fast, but if you can get on it, it’s all good. Keep your valuables in there. Additionally, there are lockers at the bus station in Pula, which is a short walk to the Roman Amphitheatre where the pre-party is. “You can rent a locker for 15 Kuna a person, then you can literally arrive the night of the pre-party, lock up your stuff, and go to the amphitheatre! Lauryn Hill is headlining this year!” says Constance.
Tenting – Now you’re probably scared to tent, but don’t be. Just be smart about it. Lots of people can’t afford or do not want to get an apartment and use the tenting facilities. “Put your tent in a more public area,” says Constance. “If a thief really wants in they’re going to get in, but crowds are a deterrent. We also zip tied our tent shut, but anyone could cut that open if they really wanted to. If you’re camping try to camp a little closer to a main hub.” The festival staff will keep your passport for the duration of the party to ensure you pay, so don’t stress or be weirded out by that. “After the festival we camped outside the festival gates for a few days. There was a little cabana stage playing goa trance at all hours – not good goa trance either, but we felt pretty safe overall.” The other side of this is that a North American person probably doesn’t want to haul a tent all over Europe, however, you can get basic camping supplies at Outlook vendors on site or even order it from the festival.
Apartments – There are apartments available very close to the festival site, and honestly they’re relatively cheap. Hostels and hostel vans are sold out at this time, but it looks like there are still a fair few apartments in the region for rent. You can go right through the site for this, and that way don’t have to worry about getting ripped off, language barriers etc. My friends have taken care of our apartment rental, and it was $130 per person, so very reasonable.
Watch Your Drink – Do not fuck around with this step. Constance has had friends that have woken up on the other side of the festival fence with no shoes on and no idea what happened. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. If you lose sight of your beer, dump it. It’s just not worth it.
Booze – Be prepared that during festival times, prices go up. That’s just the way it is. “Think of this festival as Christmas for people in the area,” says Constance. They make the majority of their money at this time, so yeah, beers are market price. However, you can offset that cost by visiting liquor stores in Pula, or even on your way from Frankfurt (or wherever). Chrys says it’s fully acceptable to have a case of beer on the train with you, so if you get a chance to pick one up and you can carry it, do it. If you’re like me and you’re a late night drinker, not to worry. The booze tents are open as late as the stages for the most part.
Drugs – Outlook does not condone drug use. Allyouneedisbass.com does not condone drug use. Drugs are forbidden at this festival. That being said, people will undoubtedly be high somewhere in the vicinity of Outlook Festival. There are tons of undercover cops at the festival, and they’re looking for people that are publicly doing drugs. According to Constance it’s not unheard of to grab women’s crotches in security lines, especially the non VIP line. “An acquaintance of mine was caught in line to the pre-party with four different substances. The penalty for this was $700 Canadian, but could have been a lot worse.” Additionally, Croatian weed is brutal compared to North American standards. If you’re a daily smoker, you better hope you meet someone from Amsterdam. Be wary of people asking you for drugs. Honestly, it’s probably best to just not even go down that road at all.
Politics – Realize you’re going to a country that had a very serious political conflict. If you have opinions about it, no one cares. Just keep your mouth shut, and don’t get involved in conversations about any of that stuff.
Tokens – First of all, if you have Euros, you’ll need to convert those to Kuna. The next step is tokens. When you want to buy stuff at Outlook, you’ll need to purchase tokens. “They don’t take cash,” says Constance.
Weather – It’s really hot at Outlook, so make sure to bring swimming stuff and everything that goes with beach weather. “If you can get sunscreen before you get to the festival site, you should,” says Constance. “The vendors may sell out.” Bring a hoody for night, but for those of us that are used to mountain festivals it sounds like their nights aren’t quite as cold. As for preparing for rain, it can rain there from time to time also, so be ready for that.
Local Music – There’s a lot to be gained from checking out some of the local soundsystems and bands. Like most festivals this is the best way to learn about music you’ve never heard. Without knowing what was happening, Constance wandered into a tent where they were cutting a live dubplate, which is the highest degree of G. He suggests checking out Digitron Soundsytem, a local group that’s there every year.
Gypsy Cabs – If you can find a ride you feel comfortable taking from a makeshift cab, go for it, but use discretion. “You shouldn’t really pay more than 50 Kuna,” says Contstance.
Dimensions – “Dimensions Festival is the next weekend, so if you’re up to it, you can have two awesome raves in two weeks,” says Chrys. It sounds like if you have tickets to both, the festival organizers allow you to stay on the land, so that could be a major advantage.
Speaking Croatian – It’s not necessary to speak Croatian, although you’ll be well liked if you do. “Most people speak English,” says Constance. “However the Croatian people are really nice and like it if you try to speak their language.” Bok means hello, hvala means thank you, and pivo means beer, so already there are three essentials.
So there you have it. A bunch of tips to ease into Outlook Festival. For more information, the FAQ section of the website seems really good and has a lot of information regarding basically all topics. The festival staff are really well-organized and helpful, so if you have questions that aren’t covered, throw it out there and see what happens. To keep up with Festival news, join the Outlook Festival Facebook group, and most of all don’t miss the boat parties! Tickets are on sale May 21 21:00 CEST (Central European Summer Time).
Check out Constance’s SoundCloud, because he’s a top dude and a well good chappy!
Tickets are still on sale for Outlook. Come and join the happy adventure!