Your Guide to Serbia’s EXIT Festival

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Your Guide to Serbia’s EXIT Festival

With a local fruit brandy in one hand while the other keeps pace with the techno beat reverberating off the walls of the 17th century fortress surrounding you and the other 20,000 people with their eyes trained on the world-class DJ, you can only be in one place: The EXIT Festival at 3 a.m.

For the past 16 years, tents have lined the Danube River and major artists—from the White Stripes to Skrillex—have descended upon the city of Novi Sad in northern Serbia each July for one of Europe’s biggest music festivals. Named the Best Major European Festival of 2013, EXIT continues to reach new heights each year with a record 200,000 attendees from over 60 countries last year alone.

The theme of the 17th annual festival—which will take place July 7-10, 2016—is “Magic,” a common reference to the festival’s vibe and “the emotion of love of music and freedom” that attendees share. At just over $100 for a four-day pass, the festival is not only affordable, but socially conscious as well. Launched in 2000 as a 100-day student movement around the city of Novi Sad, the festival continues that tradition today through its foundation, which focuses on education and youth empowerment and is leading the charge for Novi Sad to compete for youth capital of Europe 2018.

If four nights of nonstop entertainment weren’t enough, 2016 is also the third year for seaside partner festival, Sea Dance, which will take place July 14-16 on Jaz Beach in Budva, Montenegro. You can add entry to this nonstop beach party for just $27.

With 15 stages (including a karaoke stage and silent disco), the original EXIT Festival alone can be pretty overwhelming, so we’ve done the hard work for you to break down what you must see and do during your time at the iconic Novi Sad festival.

Who to Hear: Paste Picks

Thursday, July 7

exit 2.jpg Photo courtesy of EXIT Festival

As soon as the gates open at 7 p.m., make a beeline for the Main Stage to get a good spot because EXIT is starting off with a bang this year. First up are British indie darlings Bastille who came to the world’s attention with 2013’s massive hit “Pompeii.” With a few more hits racked up since then, the Londoners will make an excellent introduction to the night’s big draw: Ellie Goulding. The festival’s iconic fireworks display will come out as the multiplatinum sensation takes the EXIT stage for the first time as part of the promotional tour for her third studio album, Delirium. Over at the mts Dance Arena—which has grown to rival the Main Stage with the level of artists it attracts—you will find DJ superstar duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike (best known for their club hit “Tsunami”) who have smashed European ticket sale records in recent years.

Friday, July 8

910x630_a6_1.jpg Photo courtesy of EXIT Festival

On the second night of the festival, the Main Stage features an odd couple pairing: funk icon George Clinton and legendary producer and DJ David Guetta. Dr. Funkenstein and the Parliament Funkadelic will no doubt bring the energy and style they’ve been known for since the 1970s, while you can expect Guetta to bring his wide catalogue of smash hits including the recent “This One’s For You”—the anthem for the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament. The mts Dance Arena will deliver a solid second night with late addition EXIT veteran Maceo Plex and up-and-comer Jackmaster. If you didn’t get a chance the previous night, make your way over to the Fusion Stage to see the reunited darlings of EBM, Borghesia, or—for a harder sound—check out Swedish hardcore fury band Raised Fist over on the Explosive Stage. No matter where you start, we highly recommend you wind up your night with local favorite Filip Xavi over at the Guarana No Sleep Novi Sad Stage.

Saturday, July 9

The lineup on the third night has something for everyone and provides a chance to stage hop and spend some time in the Chill Zone. The Main Stage will have us whipping between the Ramones-like indie sounds of The Vaccines and the electric guitar-infused desert sounds of Tinariwen. If you only see one band this night, make sure it’s Tinariwen. The Tuareg musicians from northern Mali have redefined what rebellion sounds like. The mts Dance Arena will also have a great contender in Avicii protégé Nicky Romero, while the Fusion and Explosive Stages will feature icons of their styles: Dub Pistols, punk band Cock Sparrer, and metal band Paradise Lost.

Sunday, July 10

exit 3.jpg Photo courtesy of EXIT Festival

Having set the record last year for the biggest attendance of any one performance in EXIT’s history (52,000), The Prodigy returns to Novi Sad as part of a multicountry swing through the region.

Hip-hop will dominate the rest of the evening on the Main Stage with first-time performances from British rapper Stormzy and Wiz Khalifa, who hits EXIT ahead of his much-publicized summer tour with Snoop Dogg. Not a hip-hop fan? Head over to the Explosive Stage and head-bang along to Swedish death metal band At the Gates. The mts Dance Arena will also finish the festival strong with performances from electronica royalty Richie Hawtin and Dave Clarke.

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