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Credit: Dan Medhurst

Festival Review: Outlook

When? 4th-7th September

Where? Fort Punta Christo, Croatia

Outlook festival is not a weekend of Pie Minister mash and freshly squeezed raspberry juice – nor is it a fairground adorning, tea-light-lit fiesta. In fact, Outlook is not an experience for the faint hearted. But if you can’t resist the allure of a sea side sound system festival set in the most spectacular location – an ancient fort – then it may be just the thing for you.

Set on a peninsula of stunning, pine needle dusted land in Pula, Croatia, the first thing any Outlooker will notice is the unique setting, inviting campsite and crystal sea water that welcomes you on arrival. What an entrance. Before the music even officially starts, the festival has much to boast with its tree shaded campsite featuring an actual toilet block with showers. What, no portaloos or sketchy scaffold-structures bearing water pipes? A festival luxury that defies the general atmosphere of intense partying and carefree-ness. If you arrive early enough to claim a spot overlooking the water and adjacent tropical islands, like we did, this festival can feel more like a beach holiday than fist pumping, foot skanking fiasco.

Security upon entry is notably stricter than the average British festival, but the strict no knife or glass policy isn’t something to be reckoned with, it’s just out of concern for safety after all. Though our trip to the supermarket for pasta sauce was rendered a little irrelevant when we surrendered the contents of our shopping bags to the intimidating Croatian festival staff.

A short and stunning walk from the campsite, along the coast, is the beach stage where daily beach parties maintain an impressively friendly and cheerful atmosphere. The rocky beach didn’t seem to deter festival goers and every day the majority of the campsite migrated to the waters edge for beer and music. Dub, reggae, drum & bass.. if you’re at Outlook there’s probably a number of sub genres within these categories that you enjoy – and the music is never in short supply. Before the festival begins officially on the Wednesday, early bird parties in cocktail shacks outside the festival gates are open to every one – a fantastic way to get into the sun-kissed, surreal mood.

The week is relentlessly impressive, right from the opening concert in the ancient amphitheatre at the centre of Pula. A spectacular light show further romanticises the monumental structure so it’s evident that where Outlook lacks in quaint charm, it more than makes up for in heart beat altering bass and sheer epic-ness. As Europe’s biggest sound system culture festival, there’s quite a reputation to be upheld – and I can confidently say that in sound quality and performance standards, this year they excelled. That night the boat transfers were surprisingly well coordinated, the entry to the venue was surprisingly queue-free and Ms Lauryn Hill was unsurprisingly late. Well over due before gracing us with her presence, the itchy footed audience still welcomed her with a cheer, and the falling rain only made for a more magical experience to whet our appetites for the days ahead.

Back at Fort Punta Christo – Friday night revealed the much anticipated fort ruins that for this paradoxical moment in history became home to several thousand music lovers and a countless number of performers. I’ve been to many festivals, but it’s an all-absorbing experience to find yourself dancing in an ancient moat, dwarfed by huge, crumbling walls in a dense crowd of movement. I cannot stress enough that for this reason alone, Outlook is one of the most incredible festivals I’ve had the pleasure to experience.

Festival goers need to learn the fine art of scaling perilous pathways from stage to stage but fortunately the architecture of the fort means that one stage is never too far from the next. At various spots on the festival site there’s an unpleasant clash of deep bass lines but despite worries, there’s no evidence of crossed sound waves where it really counts. Just prepare for some disorientating moments where you try to figure out where that song is coming from..

Featuring an exciting line up and genre spanning cache of performances, the general consensus among the site was one of exuberant positivity. From sound system sensations Mungo’s Hifi, dub favourites Gentlemen’s dub club and reggae legends Barrington Levy and Horace Andy – the more widely known artists were doggedly on point. For those seeking something heavier to lose their nights to, there was never a moment wasted on silence, even as the sun rose above the horizon line.

As is the way with most festivals, I was sad to leave Outlook. To leave behind the diverse and warmhearted campsite, the sun, the long nights. Every day is a holiday at this festival, and every night is an adventure with hidden stages to be discovered and new found music to be danced to. Forget the wanna-be-British food stalls and forget the momentary lulls in organisation, because every flaw is triumphed over with atmosphere, music, and undeniable, inevitable fun.

I just have one question lingering after this festival; Where do I sign up for next year?


 Kassia Wordley

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