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The Guardian: Croatia best festival destination

ZAGREB, 10.5.2013.

Croatia's summer festival scene has exploded in the last few years, the Guardian reported on Friday and goes on to explain why Brits had gone "Balkan mad".

Guaranteed sun, relaxed crowds, excellent DJs, boat parties and cheap booze give Croatia's festival scene the advantage compared to British festivals and the selection offered is hug starting late May to mid September. There is hardly a summer weekend when there isn't a festival somewhere along the Croatian coast.

Most of the festivals are organised by Brits but some Italian promoters too but also home-made organisers and now the world's biggest dance festival franchise, Ultra, is bringing Swedish DJ, Avicii to Split in July.

The Guardian describes how Croatia has managed "transform itself from a dilapidated post-war backwater into a serious rival to Miami and Ibiza?"

The regeneration started about ten years ago when club scene promoter Nick Colgan from Birmingham spent his summer vacation in Dalmatia. "I kind of fell in love with the place," he said. "There was absolutely nothing going on, but you could feel there was a willingness to move forward and try things". Within ten days he had bought a night club in Zadar and slowly his family joined him. He was immediately followed by another promoter, Eddie O'Callaghan and his wife.

The two came up with an event to attract the crowds: The Garden Festival in Petrcane, just outside Zadar. Eddie says in 2006 they had "about 300 people, 150 of which were on the payroll, to be honest," but it grew to 3,000 people two years later, and they now cap the event at 2,500 to preserve its intimacy".

This then attracted other promoters who later started their own festivals.

Combined with cheap air flights and prices in the country, which is still not in the eurozone, have made Croatian festivals very attractive.

But it's not all in prices. "You don't get outdoor music any more after 11pm in Ibiza," another promoter Mark Newton said for the Guardian. Other festival venues now have roofs and terraces whereas in Croatia everything is done under the open sky.

Croatian authorities have welcomed these tourism-boosting events, the Guardian writes. "In the UK, there's so much red tape," Newton said. "The Croatian people embrace promoters, so it makes things a lot easier," he said.

At the same time Croatia is very conscious of not becoming a destination with lots of cheap alcohol and fighting, Newton told the Guardian.

"We work closely with the local authorities and the people, and it's really important to include them in everything you do. It's not about a hit-and-run, it's about setting up something sustainable", he added.

The Guardian concludes that it does not want to write the Croatian tourist board's slogan for them, it seems it's clearly a case of: come for the beats, stay for the beaches. (Hina)

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