Last week we arrived back in the UK after a week of craziness at Hideout festival!
With this year’s DJ lineup including the likes of Bicep, Chase & Status, Jax Jones and Camelphat, it was set to be a good ‘un! Alex and I booked our tickets back in December, after randomly discovering that it was on both of our bucket lists. We somehow managed to persuade a couple of friends to put their deposits down for tickets too after a few drinks one evening, but sadly in the end the group disintegrated as everyone began to realise how expensive it was going to be once you add accommodation, flights and cash into the equation. It didn’t matter though – we knew we would have an amazing time by ourselves anyway!
We stayed in the nearby city of Zadar for a few days before the festival, to enjoy some sun and warmth first without a constant hangover, and to ease ourselves in gently to our super exciting trip.
I thought I’d combine a review of Hideout with a bit of a guide for anyone planning to go next year, as when I was doing research I couldn’t find too much online about it – so thought this might be helpful!
Tickets & Wristbands
(When I mention any ticket prices, this includes the booking fee too, by the way!)
Funnily enough, Hideout’s tickets themselves are probably the cheapest part of the whole experience! We paid £166 each for our standard tickets in the end (using the deposit scheme and paying £90 in December and the rest before April). But as I say, this is just the start!
Tickets to the Monday ‘secret beach party’ and all boat parties cost extra (£35pp for each boat party £40pp for the beach party – will tell you a bit about those later on!), plus the festival shuttle bus is another £40pp as well. We booked onto the Monday beach party, and one boat party, so all in all we ended up spending around £280 on the festival alone (inc. shuttle bus).
All the tickets tell you to print them out and take them with you before you arrive, but if you aren’t able to access a printer, they seemed to be happy for you to show them the ticket on your phone too.
For the festival tickets themselves and the shuttle bus (called City Bus), we exchanged these for wristbands when we arrived at Novalja bus station, and for the beach party/boat parties, we just showed our tickets before each event (more detail below).
Getting There – Flights & Transfers
We flew from London Stansted (words can’t describe how much I hate this airport… but hey, it’s always super cheap) to Zadar, where we stayed for a few days before heading to the festival. Zadar is a small city about an hour and a half away from the Island of Pag, which is where the festival is located – it’s a lovely place (the airport is TINY though) so if you do have a chance to spend time and explore there I would recommend that! Our return flights were around £200 each.
While the festival officially starts on the Monday (with some opening parties on the Sunday), all the accommodation starts from the Saturday, and most people seem to arrive then. So on Saturday we took a coach from Zadar bus station to Novalja (the festival town on Pag), which cost around £8 each (I booked it on the GetByBus app and it was super simple, plus it was comfy and had air con so we were happy).
Hideout also offer airport transfers from various airports around Croatia and nearby in Slovenia too, for £20pp each way, so you can just land at the airport and head straight to the festival on a coach. Everyone we talked to seemed to come from totally different airports – some with 4/5 hour journeys between there and the festival, so we were thankful ours was a pretty short trip. All the coaches arrive at Novalja bus station where you can then exchange your tickets for wristbands, and then you can either get the city bus or a taxi to wherever your accommodation is.
We got the Hideout airport transfer from Novalja to Zadar airport when we left, because it seemed to be the cheapest and simplest option.
The Island of Pag and Novalja – The Area & Getting Around
Hideout festival is based on the Island of Pag (accessible by car over a bridge – no boats/ferries involved don’t worry) which we thought would be quite small but it was pretty big! It took around an hour to get from the bridge to Novalja. Speaking of, Novalja is the town closest to the festival beach – DO NOT get off any buses or book things to take you to ‘Pag’ because that is the name of a town on the other side of the island from where you want to be… it’s just confusing that it shares a name with the island itself.
So Novalja is basically where everything happens! This is where you get your wristbands, it’s where the harbour is where the boat parties leave from, and where a lot (but not all) of the accommodation is for the festival. The town itself has loads of bars, restaurants, and a club too, as well as a long beach too – it’s known for being a bit of a party town and is much bigger than we thought! It takes about 40 minutes to walk from one end of the beach to the other side of the center of town.
Novalja is about a 10 minute journey by bus/taxi to the festival, which is situated on Zrce beach. There are other areas nearby, such as Stara Novalja and Vidalici, where you can stay and the shuttle bus goes to-and-from those places, but they take more like 20/30 minutes to get to the festival.
As I mentioned above, we bought the festival shuttle bus wristbands to get us to and from Novalja and Hideout; the city bus has multiple lines that go to different stops around Novalja, and further away towns too. Our accommodation was near a bus stop so we thought that would all be good – BUT we came to find that the line where our bus stop was situated was extremely unreliable.
The buses are supposed to run every half hour from that line at peak times, but there were at least 3 times where we were stood wait for nearly an hour, and in the end had to share a taxi with other people wait and pay for that to take us to the festival instead. The town is riddled with taxis at least, but they are a total rip off, so I would suggest to avoid if you can!
That being said, getting the bus from a bus stop on the main line from the center of Novalja was much easier; there was a bus at least every 10 minutes – sometimes 5 minutes – and although they were busier they were much more reliable, so I guess it depends on where you’re situated!
Oh, and don’t be tempted to use Uber even though the prices are like 10x less than the town taxis, because they ARE actually town taxis and if they see a group of people who want to hop in, they will take them instead of you (because they can charge way more) even if you booked and have been waiting for them to arrive for 20 minutes -_- I think they just use Uber for quieter periods…
Accommodation – Where to Stay
Hideout offer their own accommodation from their website (they basically just have listings of ‘approved’ apartments) in various towns near the festival. If you’re in a group this is great, but if there is just two, or even three of you, you would end up sharing an apartment with strangers as you have to book per room within an apartment. To be fair that could have been quite fun, but we felt it was pretty expensive for what you got.
I ended up finding us a studio apartment for just the two of us on a site called EUFest (who are really just an online listing service; the actual letting agency was called Sunturist). It was based 5 to 10 minutes walk from Novalja town center and cost £595 for the week (you see how the price starts to mount up and up now??).
We went to the Sunturist agency office in Novalja when we arrived, where we had to put a security deposit down before we were driven with our bags to the apartment. It was a lovely little apartment with a kitchenette and even a balcony with a view of the sea! It was down a residential road surrounded by loads of apartment buildings, some of which were filled with locals, and some with festival-goers, party-ers and other holiday makers.
Location-wise, it was nice to be out in the peace and quiet, but it did feel like a pretty long walk into town each day. In reality it was probably only 20 minutes to the center and the beach, but it just meant it wasn’t as easy to nip in and out to get changed/get food & drink/grab a towel etc.
We also felt that actually it would have been quite nice to be more involved in the busy-ness of the center; it probably would have been easier to make friends and meet other festival goers that way. But it was nice to be able to sleep properly!
Food & Drink – What to Eat & Buying Alcohol
I won’t lie – the food was pretty shit in Novalja and around the festival. It was totally geared up for Brits with about a billion pizza shops (to be fair, I LOVED all the pizza), kebabs, chicken wings, fries, burgers etc. I mean, when you’re hungover (which I was for basically the whole week) all that kinda stuff is fine, so it didn’t really bother us that much. However, by the end of the week I did feel like I was seriously lacking in vitamins and nutrients! Prices were roughly the same as in the UK, but pizzas were definitely super cheap (about £6 for a large full size one – wooo!).
There were several supermarkets all around town too, and we did do a big-ish shop at the start of the week and cook a couple of meals, but we did get lazy as the week went on. The supermarkets in Novalja were pretty expensive, I won’t lie… literally they have just all put their prices up because of all the Brits who come for the festival and the clubs for the rest of the year. This includes the alcohol!!
Lucky for us, we fore-planned and when we were staying in Zadar, we visited a big, cheap supermarket there and stocked up on our alcohol beforehand. Because Croatia have their own currency (Kuna, instead of Euros), typically in most places everything is relatively cheap – so if you are able to pick up alcohol somewhere else OTHER than the festival town that would be a good plan!
Money – How Much to Bring
Yikes… well, we wayyyy over-spent our budget. We brought £350 each for the week, thinking we’d be sensible and pre-drink with our cheap supermarket alcohol, and cook cheap meals every day, but alas, things did not work out that way.
Buying drinks out was much more expensive than we had imagined; this was our main problem. In the bars in Novalja and within the festival beach, the cocktails and mixers are similar price to England (neither of us drink beer so I can’t comment on that!), which was fine but HOLY HELL the price of drinks inside the clubs was horrific!! Single shot mixers were the equivalent of about £9… so I’d say like maybe expensive London club prices *sob*.
We quickly realised that it was better to just buy drinks from bars outside the clubs, but we still did buy a couple of drinks inside because… well, it feels weird dancing without a drink in your hand!
At the end of the day, I think you could do it on a budget if you’re savvy and pre-drink more and eat out less. But what I’m trying to say is it is NOT cheap, and you should be prepared to over-spend.
People – What’s the Vibe
First of all, basically everyone is English. Mostly northerners and Essex folk to be honest – although we did find a couple of guys who were from Falmouth (Cornwall buddies!). Other than that there were tonnes of Irish and a lot of Germans too. In terms of age, most people were between 20 and 27, but there were a few older peeps and the classic few 18 year olds on their exam celebrations too.
I have never seen so many gym-obsessed, short-back-n-sides, ‘lads-on-tour’ type boys in one place, though. Literally every guy looked the same; like something from The Only Way is Essex or Love Island. And I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit of a sausage fest… so ya know, girls if you like that kind of guy YOU KNOW where to go! But generally, they were all total idiots who were rowdy, rude to locals and just all-round disgusting. We felt pretty embarrassed on behalf of the English…
As for the girls, what can I say? It genuinely did feel like an episode of Love Island, with amazingly dolled-up girls strutting around town and the festival in bikinis (all the wedgie/cheeky type, obvs) and heels, looking glam AF with fake eyelashes and extensions on point. Again, they weren’t necessarily my type of people, but they weren’t as rowdy as the guys.
We did find some awesome, more down-to-Earth people though! Funnily enough, none of them were English. We made friends with some New Zealanders who invited us back to their hotel for drinks one night, who were ridiculously friendly, and on day two we befriended a really lovely Irish couple who we met up with loads throughout the week and had a great time with.
^ Bikini from Zennor Bikini, Shorts from ASOS (out of stock – similar below!)
What to Wear
Guys: Some kind of funky patterned swim shorts, flipflops, and that’s about it for the day time! The guys didn’t seem to ever wear tops, but it’s a good idea to carry one with you when you’re around town in case of going into shops/restaurants, but at the festival and day-time pool parties in the clubs, no one wore tshirts.
In the evening, shorts or jeans with a tshirt is probably your best bet. Maybe a short-sleeve shirt at most but people were rarely wearing actual shirts in the clubs.
Girls: It’s time to seriously up your bikini/swimsuit game! These girls all looked incredible. Most people just walked around town and the festival all day in a bikini and some kind of cute sarong or beach coverup (although many people didn’t!), most with flipflops but quite a few in heels for extra sass. Hair and makeup somehow seemed to be super glam all day long, but if you’re like me that would just be bare effort to do every day and not really my jam. The glitter and gems vibe was about 50/50, I love it so I went with it!
For the evenings, you’re basically going clubbing so most girls wore clubbing-type dresses or bodysuits with skirts/shorts. That was my go-to!
Festival – Zrce Beach, Clubs, Pool Parties & Music
Zrce Beach itself is well-known as an epic party beach, with five amazing clubs that are open all season long. It’s like a condensed Ibiza! During Hideout week they basically just section the whole beach off so it’s only accessible to festival wristband holders, so what your festival ticket does is basically give you free entry to any club there all week, including for their day time pool parties. They obviously also get more well-known DJs there for the week too.
The clubs are Aquarius, Euphoria, Kalypso, Papaya and Noa, and words can’t describe how awesome they were! I’ve never seen anything like it. Think palm trees, cabana hut bars, pools, and bamboo everywhere! Papaya was where most of the bigger acts seemed to play, and seeing Disciples there on the Thursday night was truly epic, but I think my favourite had to be Noa, which is built out of wood and stand on stilts out into the sea; there are loads of little hammocks hanging over the water, day beds, ladders and dive points to explore – definitely the coolest club I’ve ever seen.
The pool parties usually started around 2/3pm and finished at 7/8pm, by which point most people would head out of the festival and go back to their apartments for food or cheaper drinks, then would head back at about 11pm for the main acts in the clubs – these would go on ’til 4/5am!
Music-wise, the it was pretty much all house and techno, with a bit of dubstep/drum-n-bass occasionally, but a LOT of house and techno. I love house (especially disco house, which seems to be popular at the moment ~YAY~) but I tend to get a bit bored of techno, but there were so many clubs to dip and out of that I never had a problem with that. It would have been nice to have somewhere that played more dance music though, but that wasn’t really the vibe.
The Beach Party – What to Expect
So I heard great things about the beach party last year (the first year they put it on). It’s on the Monday and was sold as a separate party on a ‘secret beach location’ away from the festival. Last year people got on a bus and got taken somewhere totally different…
…This year, they literally just sectioned off a slice of beach next to the festival and called that their ‘secret beach’. It had an outdoor stage and a club with a few bars but it was SO busy because of the amount of people in one small place (not spread throughout the festival) that we had to wait 40 minutes for a drink. It was literally just a smaller, busier part of the festival area but we weren’t allowed to come back in if we wanted to go out.
We left after about 2 hours (most of that time was spent queuing for drinks), along with quite a few other disgruntled people. I sent a message to Hideout complaining that they’d mis-sold the ‘secret beach party’, because it did say online that it would be an another location, and we definitely wouldn’t have paid £40 (each!!) to just access a busier smaller area of the festival. They got back to me pretty quickly though to be fair, and offered me 4 free boat party tickets as a sorry, which was awesome!
Boat Parties – What to Expect
We booked on to the Housework (Jax Jones) boat party on the Wednesday from 2pm til 5pm. We queued up at the harbour and piled onto the boat, ready for some awesome tunes!
Yes, they do pack a lot of people onto the boats, but it was good because they had a whole lower indoors deck where you couldn’t really hear the music and people were using that to chill in if they felt ill or too hot, or just in need of a nap in some cases!
There were two bars, which meant the queues for drinks weren’t bad at all, and it was just awesome to be floating on the ocean, dancing to ‘You Don’t Know Me’ with the sun blazing down. I’d definitely recommend going on at least one!
Toilets: Because it’s not really like a festival with portaloos and you’re in clubs most of the time, the toilet situation wasn’t too bad. HOWEVER, most toilets (even the ones inside the clubs) you had to pay for. Althought it’s only 50lipa (less than 5 pence), it’s important to remember to keep change with you all the time just in case!
Medicine: There was a pharmacy in Novalja which sold basic medications and I think had a consultant as well, and there’s obviously a medical area at the festival, but my advice would be to pack medicines with you for all eventualities. Alex and I forgot to bring indigestion tablets with us (silly) and ended up spending £5 (!!) on a pack of Rennie tablets – mental!
Internet/WiFi: For some reason, even though my phone said it had 3G in Novalja, it wouldn’t work, and Alex’s was pretty slow too, probably because of the amount of people in the area. Apparently at the festival there was free wifi, but I never managed to log in because my phone was pretty much always out of battery – oops!
Security: There wasn’t any security getting into the festival; they just checked your wristbands and nothing else, but there were thorough security checks to get into every club each time you go in. You weren’t allowed to bring any drinks or liquids in (as expected), but they did check all bags and did proper pat downs too!
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Overall we had an epic week, drinking and dancing through the night, chilling on the beach while watching catch-ups of Love Island on my iPad, and making friends along the way.
It was much more club-focused and less festival-y than I expected; it was definitely just like being in a condensed Ibiza. And it was SO SO SO much more expensive than I could ever have imagined, but it is a bucket list item ticked off and definitely an experience we’ll both remember for years to come!
Are you dreaming of going to Hideout or been before? Leave any tips or questions below!
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