Croatia's best music festivals

Croatia’s music festival scene is flourishing, with exciting new events popping up each summer. Local and international organisers make the most of the incredible Adriatic coast and a stunning setting is pretty much guaranteed, with idyllic beaches, islands, lakes and meadows hosting crowds of delighted festival goers.

There are plenty of unforgettable experiences to be had, from hip-hop greats playing in a Roman amphitheatre, to intimate boat parties DJed by electro superstars. Whatever you choose, you’re bound for an unforgettable experience. Here’s our pick.

Dancing in the sun at Hideout

Dancing in the sun at Hideout © Hideout Festival

Hideout

Take five awesome venues right on the beach, throw in pre-parties, boat parties, pool parties, after parties and a young and up-for-it crowd, and you’ve got a recipe for hedonistic paradise. Set on the glorious crescent-shaped Zrće Beach, Hideout (hideoutfestival.com) offers up plenty of deep house, with some techno and grime thrown in for good measure. They sort out your transport and accommodation too, if you’re happy to pay extra.

Where? Zrce Beach, Pag Island

When? late June

Fresh Island

Three days of concerts, parties, and intoxicating Adriatic sunshine, Fresh Island (fresh-island.org) hypes up Zrće beach and its infamous clubs with pumping urban, r&b and grime grooves. For even more fun in the sun, start this hip-hop dreamland up to three days early, with warm-up beach and boat parties.

Where? Zrće Beach, Pag Island

When? mid-July

INmusic festival

INmusic festival © Elvis Kosina / INmusic

INmusic

Croatia’s biggest music festival, INmusic (inmusicfestival.com) makes up for its inland location with ludicrously cheap ticket prices and big-name bands from the worlds of indie and rock, with a mix of current favourites, newcomers and blasts from the past. The setting beside Lake Jarun isn’t too shabby either – you can camp by and swim in the lake, rollerblade around it or even try windsurfing.

Where? Lake Jarun, near Zagreb city centre

When? mid-June

Seasplash

Set in and around a 19th-century fort complex on a beautiful peninsula, Seasplash (seasplash-festival.com) has been getting people dancing in Pula since 2003, making it one of Croatia’s longest running festivals. It’s a four-day event that brings local and international talent together, mixing up a vast bag of dance and roots music, from reggae to hip hop, ska, R&B, drum and bass and dubstep.

Where? Punta Christo Fort, near Pula

When? mid-July

Hands and lasers in the air at Ultra Europe

Hands and lasers in the air at Ultra Europe © Rudgr.com / Ultra Europe

Ultra Europe

This hugely successful Miami-based electronic dance music behemoth holds its European incarnation (ultraeurope.com) at Split’s Poljud football stadium. Over three days the world’s biggest superstar DJs whip the 100,000-strong crowd into a frenzy with banging tunes and dazzling light shows.

Where? Poljud Stadium, Split

When? mid-July

Soundwave

Soundwave (soundwavecroatia.com) relies on its eclectic line-up, laid-back atmosphere and friendly crowd to keep its faithful fans coming back year after year. The setting is great – a natural amphitheatre overlooking a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear waters, just a short walk from the picturesque town of Tisno where you can fill up on delicious local seafood. The action starts on the beach stage, with plenty of other stages and boat parties kicking in later, and ends up at legendary open-air nightclub Barbarella’s, where blissed-out revellers dance until morning.

Where? The Garden, Tisno

When? late July

Defected Croatia

Just a heartbeat after Soundwave, Defected Croatia (defected.com) spins another six days of house-disco-underground at The Garden. Mustered by the Defected UK crew, its neatly packed programme is a continuum of nightlong parties, sunrise jams, sea-dipped feet and blissful Adriatic horizons, earned it plenty of plaudits when it debuted in 2016.

Where? The Garden, Tisno

When? mid-August

Outlook Festival's opening concert in the Pula Roman amphitheatre

Outlook Festival's opening concert in the Pula Roman amphitheatre © Marc Sethi / Outlook Festival

Outlook

This celebration of soundsystem culture brings a host of hip hop, reggae and dubstep acts to a range of unusual stages, including a dungeon, moat, courtyard, harbour, meadow and beach. Outlook (outlookfestival.com) is set in the same fort complex as Seasplash, and its opening takes place in Pula’s atmospheric Roman amphitheatre.

Where?  Punta Christo Fort, near Pula

When? early September

Obonjan

The organisers of the former Unknown Festival have bought an entire island (obonjan-island.com) off the coast of Šibenik in northern Dalmatia, promising a festival/holiday/experience that combines music, yoga retreats, talks and events, plus fantastic food that treats local ingredients with a gourmet touch. There's also a focus on environmentally friendly, low-impact practices.

Where? Obonjan Island, near Sibenik

When? late July until early September

Orsula Festival

Bringing world music to an otherworldly setting, Orsula (orsula-festival.com) strings jazz, r&b, funk, bossa nova and ethno tunes into a summer of open-air concerts. The stunning Park Orsula location, a couple of kilometres down the coast from Dubrovnik, was once just a wild corner of barren karst, until tamed and groomed into a summer stage by one of the festival’s founders.

Where? Park Orsula, Dubrovnik

When? late June until late August

This article was first published in May 2014 and updated by Vesna Celebic in May 2017.

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