Eastern Europe is home to many amazing festivals every year. And while some have become so incredibly famous that pretty much everyone in the world knows about them, there are so many lesser-known festivals that deserve your attention. Sure, you’ve heard of the Ultra Festival in Split, but have you heard of the Sea Star Festival in Umag?
From the enchanting light installations in Zagreb, to the wonderful sounds of Jazz in Sarajevo – here are some festivals in Eastern Europe that you’ve probably never heard of, but should have!
Sarajevo Film Festival is held annually, in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the Balkans, and it brings Hollywood celebs to the city every year.
With people like Brad Pitt, Rober De Niro and Benicio Del Toro walking the red carpet in front of the Sarajevo National Theater, it’s a festival you should have heard of by now. And it’s not just about film screenings – the city comes alive during the festival, with music concerts and parties everywhere.
Where: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
While the EXIT festival in Novi Sad has grown so much that you have probably heard of it, its little sister festival is not as well known. Sea Dance Festival takes the techno music away from the Serbian fortress, and onto the amazing Montenegrin beaches.
In 2019, it received an award for the best medium-sized festival in Europe, which speaks volumes. With headliners like David Guetta, Robin Schulz and Sven Vath, it’s a great music festival for all lovers of techno music. But also for those who just love to party all night long.
Where: Buljarica Beach, Montenegro
The terraces of the glorious Buda Castle are home to the city’s Wine Festival every year. It’s an amazing opportunity to taste some of Hungary’s best wine, enjoy local foods, learn about winegrowing and the history of local wine and attend some folk music concerts.
You can also meet some renowned winemakers in person, which is definitely a unique experience. And all the while, you’re enjoying breathtaking panoramic views of Pest, which makes the entire experience even more memorable. Plan to visit Hungary’s capital in early September, if you want to take part in this awesome festival.
Where: Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary
Since 2017, Zagreb has hosted the Festival of Lights annually. And because it’s a pretty new event for the city, chances are you’ve never heard of it.
The Festival of Lights is great for people who want to experience something different and unique. And the thing we love most about this festival is that it is not localized.
For about five days, the entire city is transformed into a light show. Walking around city streets looks like you’re walking underwater, the parks and promenades are adorned with unique light installations and you can even attend laser shows. Plan to visit Zagreb in March, if you want to experience this firsthand.
Where: Zagreb, Croatia
Meadows in the Mountains is one of the world’s most unique festivals, and you definitely need to hear about it if you haven’t by now. The electronic music festival is usually held in early June, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
The festival is held in Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, which are about a 20-minutes drive from the nearest city. To fully enjoy it, you need to either book a village house or a camping parcel. It’s a great way to get in touch with nature and relax away from all the city noises.
Don’t expect world-famous artists and performers here – the festival promotes free-spirited artists, who value one’s right to self-expression and social harmony. Honestly, it’s kind of like a mini hipster version of Woodstock, and it’s definitely got us interested!
Where: Polkovnik Serafimovo, Bulgaria
Another amazing Croatian festival is Sea Star Festival. It is held annually in Umag, and 2019 was only the third edition of the festival. Because it is still pretty young, not many people have heard of it.
But considering that Wu-Tang Clan headlined the festival in May 2019, we’re thinking you definitely need to hear about this Eastern European festival. It lasts for two days, with multiple parties preceding and succeeding it.
Where: Umag, Croatia
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city is home to another wonderful festival that deserves more exposure – the annual Jazz Fest Sarajevo. It’s usually held in November, and it is a must for all lovers of jazz music.
The festival attracts musicians from all over the country, but also some internationally famous jazz performers. And it is also welcoming to newer jazz performers, and it gives them a chance to make a name for themselves.
Where: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Fellow lovers of beer should head to Serbia’s capital city in August, to enjoy one of the largest beer festivals in the Balkans. The entrance is free, which is absolutely mindblowing considering the number of artists that are there to entertain the crowds.
Belgrade Beer Festival is headlined by some of the best-known rock and pop groups from the Balkans, with multiple DJs that will entertain the people who don’t speak the local language.
And of course, there’s the beer. With more than 500 different kinds of beer, both imported and local Serbian, it’s going to be incredibly hard to decide which ones to try. But don’t attempt to try them all, as you’re likely to wind up in the ER.
Where: Belgrade, Serbia
Electric Castle is another popular music festival, but this one is held in Romania. It’s held at Bánffy Castle, usually in July or June, and it’s an amazing experience for anyone because it combines many different genres of music. We’re talking techno, rock, pop, indie and hip hop, in addition to various art installations.
Previous performers at the festival include Florence + the Machine, Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Skrillex, Die Antwoord, and many other world famous names. And just like the Sea Dance festival of Montenegro, the Electric Castle has also received several awards for the best medium-sized festival in Europe.
Where: Bánffy Castle, Romania