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The Garden Festival - Croatia

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy
The Argonaut. Pic: Mr. Reger

Held in July each year, some say it is the best kept secret in Europe, classy people like to call it an ‘intimate boutique festival’, others just come to dance under the stars in a 900 year old Croatian village.

Set in Petrčane ( a place that groans with antiquity) off the Zadar Channel,  the festival is somewhat unique in the fact that it is set on a pine tree covered peninsula with a circular nightclub, large outdoor terrace, circular beachfront cocktail bar, open air stages on the beach and its own pirate ship ‘the Argonaut’. The Argonaughty as it is affectionately known, throws wonderful Boat Parties out on the open sea. I haven’t seen any pirates at Glastonbury so I’m pretty sure that the Garden Festival is the only one of its kind.

The festival is capped at 2000 guests who in the past have boogied to the sounds of Mr. Scruff, Crazy P, Greg Wilson, Rainer Truby, Dave Beer, Domu, Michael Rutten, Terry Farley, Stuart Patterson, Dom Chung, Quantic, Reel People, Soil and Pimp Sessions, The Unabombers, A Man Called Adam, Diesler, Phat Phil Cooper, Chibuku Shake Shake, Faith & Back to Basics. Absolutely none of these names mean anything to me, but it just goes to show you can still have a good time even if you know nothing about music.

Be warned, this festival is set in extremely beautiful surrounds, beneath a scorching sun and held over two consecutive weekends. Don’t come thinking you can pack everything into two days, you’ll want to stay and explore for the week in the middle.

Petrčane boasts lovely seafood restaurants and friendly cafes. Once you’ve chowed down on the local offerings explore the pebbly beaches, the Zadar Archipelago or Kornati National Park and its many waterfalls. A Visit to the nearby town of Nin, known for its cultural and historic heritage is a must. A little further afield but well worth it if you have the time is Split or the beautiful island of Hvar.

People interested in the festival should take a look at regular Ryan Air direct flights from London to Zadar. Petrčane is just 7.5 miles away, on a local bus. 2009 tickets range from £70 to £120 for 3 days. The Agronaughty boat tickets are £12.50 with many having sold out already.

The town is full of various types of accommodation, from 4 star to camping.

Hotel Pinija is the closest (the festival is held in their grounds), Falkensteiner Family Hotel Diadora (4 star), Camp Pineta or if you fancy staying on a boat consider any of the ones for hire in Petrcane bay. Croatia is also known for its ‘sobe’ system where families take on tourists in a spare room. Ive done it, its cheap and a good way to discover local life. The only problem is, it's a little difficult to book ahead and accommodation does become scarce around festival time.

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