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With idyllic coastlines, picturesque mountains, unique architecture and a buzzing festival scene, Eastern Europe is the place to be this year.

Many of the region's most beautiful cities still offer astonishingly good value for money when it comes to hotels, food and drink and there are many diverse cultures to explore, making it the ideal location for music lovers to mix a holiday and festival. From beachside hideaways and secret islands to lush green valleys and historic fortresses, Eastern Europe offers up some of this summers hottest festival locations.

Serbia

A decade ago if you asked someone to name Europe’s top tourist destinations Serbia is unlikely to have topped the list, but in recent years the country’s pull as a tourist destination has risen dramatically. Belgrade is making a name for itself as the party capital of Europe, Novi Sad’s EXIT Festival attracts around 50,000 festivalgoers each year and there is much more to discover in this picturesque Baltic nation, from the breath-taking summits of the Tara mountain range to the lush greenery in the south and the natural beauty of the River Danube.

EXIT Festival

Winner of the 'Best Major Festival' at the European Festival awards, EXIT was started by 3 students in 2000 against the Milosevic regime, fighting for political change and freedom. Taking place in the Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia. EXIT has numerous stages connected by cobbled streets, ramparts and tunnels, with something for music lovers of all genres. Acts for 2014 include Damon Albarn, Disclosure, Rudimental, Skrillex and incredible b2b sessions including Eats Everything vs. Cassy and Carl Craig vs. Green Velvet.

Food & Drink: Try the riblja cobra (river fish soup), a beautiful national delicacy.
Drink: Sample the local speciality ‘rakija’ but go steady!
Average beer price: £1.50
Local phrase to try: “Pivo molim, hvala!”  which translates to “Beer please, thanks!”

Exit Festival takes place from July 10 - 13 in Novi Sad, Serbia. Visit www.exitfest.org for more information and to book tickets.

Croatia

Medieval architecture, picturesque coves and luscious sandy beaches have aided croatia’s popularity but the country has recently gained a great reputation for its thriving festival scene. From secret island soirees to full blown party mecca’s, Croatia has a full events calendar, providing a unique experience for every festival explorer. For a moment’s peace visit Plitvice national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, world famous for its cascading lakes and waterfalls that change colour with the seaso

Barrakud Festival

Barrakud takes place on the breathtaking island of Pag to experience the latest jewel in Croatia’s festival crown. Taking place from August 9 - 16, the Barrakud Extended Experience brings together an impressive array of acts at the forefront of today’s electronic music scene, for 8 days of sun-drenched parties by the sea. This years line-up includes Adam Beyer, Art Department, Ellen Allien, Guy Gerber, Mano Le Tough, Maceo Plex, Paul Kalkbrenner, Sven Väth and more.

Food: Pag is famous for its creamy Paski Sir (Pag Cheese)!
Drink: Croatia has the perfect grape growing climate meaning very decent locally produced wine can be found wherever you are at  very reasonable price.
Average beer price: £2.09
Local phrase to try: “Kako Da Ne”, Croatian for “Of Course!”.

Barrakud Festival takes place from August 9 - 16 in Pag, Croatia. Visit www.barrakud.com for more information and to book tickets.

Latvia

Still relatively undiscovered, Latvia is a great place for those wanting to discover somewhere special. Untouched by the masses, Latvia retains its quaint historic charm whilst also providing a vibrant nightlife. Summer is a magical time of year where the country is buzzing with outdoor events including the annual Positivus festival.  

Positivus Festival

Positivus is the largest music and arts festival in the Baltic States, taking place in the picturesque coastal town of Salacgriva in Latvia.  With three main stages, Positivus brings a rich diversity of international chart toppers and underground emerging talent to the idyllic holiday location. The festival also offers an extensive arts programme, with cinema, dance, art and fashion on show, providing festivalgoers with a wealth of things to explore. Taking place from the 18th to 20th of July, this year's headliners include Bastille, Ellie Goulding, MO, Kraftwerk, The 1975 & more. 

Food: Sample the freshest seafood from the Baltic sea
Drink: Go local with the Riga Black Balsam, a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur. 
Average beer price: £2.09
Local phrase to try: “Lūdzu vienu alu” , Latvian for “One beer please!”

Positivus Festival takes place from July 18 - 20 in Salacgravia, Latvia. Visit www.positivusfestival.com for more information and to book tickets. 

Poland

Steeped in history, Poland is the perfect place to combine a spot of sightseeing with a festival this year. With a large amount of museums, monuments and Castles its the perfect trip for the inquisitive traveller. Of course the country is also known for it club culture. Made famous in the 90’s, the underground techno scene was compared to that of Berlins with a pioneering outlook on electronic music. This has been culminated today through the curation of some of the most interesting and unique festivals on the scene.

OFF Festival

This boutique festival takes place in the lush greenery of the Three Lake Valley in Katowice, Poland. OFF Festival is a way of life, one that flies in the face of current trends and stays true to itself and the organisers and the crowd have one serious finger on the pulse when it comes to music. This year the festival will serve up acts including Holden (LIVE), Belle & Sebastian, Jacques Greene, Fuck Buttons and Neutral Milk Hotel 

Food: Poland is famous for its Pierogi - delicious dumplings filled with cheese or meat 
Drink: Sample some of Poland’s famous vodkas, such as Zubrowka (bison vodka), Krupnik (flavoured with honey and herbs)
Local phrase to try: “Na Zdrowie” (Naz-droh-vee-ay), Polish for “cheers!”
Average beer price: £1.69

OFF Festival takes place from August 2 - 4 in Katowice, Poland. Visit off-festival.pl for more information and to book tickets.

Hungary

Also known as ‘The Paris of the East’, Hungary is famed for its architecture and romantic scenery. Wistfully walk through the sunny streets stopping off at the many charming café’s and restaurants to sample the delicious local fare. At night the city comes alive and if you’re looking for a place to go, don’t hesitate to ask the locals who are always happy to help, as well as improve their English.

After partying all night or after a week adventure at this Years ‘Best Major European Festival’ take a visit to the palatinus Baths, recently praised by The Guardian as ‘One of the most beautiful outdoor baths in the world’. 

Sziget Festival

Proud winner of the 'Best Major European Festival' award in 2011, Sziget Festival is one of the biggest multicultural events of Europe, attracting almost 400,000 fans from over 70 countries to a beautiful island in the heart of Budapest. Sziget provides the ultimate festival-holiday experience with a week long non-stop party, great live acts and activities plus all the tourist attractions the city of Budapest has to offer. This years line-up boasts The Prodigy, Bastille, Imagine Dragons, Lily Allen, Tom Odell, London Grammar, Darkside, Bonobo, Jagwar Ma and Queens of The Stone Age.

Food: Try a heartwarming goulash or a kolbasz, the famed Hungarian sausage!
Drink: Tokaji Aszu, Hungary’s most famous wine that even gets a mention in their National Anthem.
Local phrase to try: “Köszönöm szépen” (kers-enem say-pen), which means “thank you very much”
Average beer price: £1.58

Sziget Festival takes place from August 11 - 18 in Budapest, Hungary. Visit www.szigetfestival.com for more information and to book tickets.

Image credit: Exit Festival/Facebook


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Eastern European festival hotspots to check out this summer
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