When it came to dishing out the gongs at last years UK festival awards, a new beast from Europe’s east rose to grab the crown of Best European Festival, firmly cementing Exit Festival’s rising status as a genuine star of the worldwide circuit.
Started in 2000 by 3 Novi Sad students ( Bojan Boskevic, Dusan Kovacevic and Ivan Milivoiev ) on a small piece of wooded land on the banks of the River Danube, which now houses the festival campsite. Exit started out officially as a free celebration of music, art and culture – unofficially, political discussion and debate also allowed the youth of Serbia to express opposition to imposed nationalism, xenophobia, censorship and repression of the Milosevic regime of the time. On the 100th day of the festival a ‘Get Up and Vote Party’ closed the inaugural Exit. The next day the elections saw the downfall of Milosevic.
In 2001, Exit relocated across the Danube into the grounds of Novi Sad’s most famous landmark, the imposing and beautiful Petrovardin Fortress. And within these walls Exit would grow into the beast it is now. That year it was a more drawn out 9-day celebration of new found freedom visited by 200,000 jubilant Serbs. Today it has been refined into a meaty 4-day affair across 27 stages, around 10 of them being really significant, mainly showcasing a mix of international and local rock, hip hop, electro, dance, roots, reggae and world music.
Where in the early years you had freedom, random abandon, disorganization, and a lax attitude to security, now you have an award winning monster, respected worldwide, and with that comes the need to organize, program, and police it accordingly. This is obviously not to the pleasing of everyone but with growth comes sacrifice, and Clash were present in 08 to see the festival for the first time ourselves, to dance like loonies at sunrise in their renowned dance arena and of course to judge the changes local culture and the event itself had gone through in the times since regime change.