Midnight and the DJ booth is silenced. No boos, no chants however as the community here know the routine. Shuttle buses take perhaps half of the guests each night down to after party venue Barbarellas, a club built out of a kind of concrete courtyard where each night the festivals top names took it into sunrise. Fuzzy memories of rolling back to bed and no matter how good the aircon is being up again for a cheap restaurant breakfast and afternoon beers on the beach and its onto one of the boat parties. Some festivals do them loud, some do them sexy, but Garden does them in style. Two wooden riverboats, the Arbianna and the Argonaughty set sail two to three times a day, with evening cruises returning in to a shimmering bay around 11pm, spotlights highlighting trees across the bay. A microcosm of life at Garden itself, the boats are a weird and wonderful array of people getting on it, people sunbathing, couples drinking champagne (and on one boat DT were on, proposing – it was a yes) and an amalgamation of Brits, Americans, Germans, swedes, French and a range of DJs playing through bunting, nets, comedy artwork and glitter-wearing people. Perhaps the highlight was Garden’s final day, when both ships sailed together to an island, where decks were were set up on the beach, people diving off the rocks into the sea and a 400 person free barbecue was arranged
Modern festivals are increasingly streamlined. Headliners jammed into multiple venues for short bursts of crowd high. The system works, and it makes for some spectacular times. Garden, however, represents an older variant on the experience. It’s a week long, there isn’t a peak, per say. The emphasis isn’t on a big final night, or, for many even a big night at all. This is an experience, a temporary way of living as much as a festival. Retaining such a healthy and dynamic crowd this long is no mean achievement, and judging by this years performance, the original Croatian festival will be happily unchanged for years to come.