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Just ask astronomers, religious zealots or pregnant teenagers: it may have happened suddenly, but it all began somewhere. 

In eight years Croatia has grown to become the go to country for festivals-with around 14 events happening peak season. This could be down to a number of facts distributed via tweed coated lecturer : flight prices, the currency, the climate, but a large part of it could be down to the DNA coding: the beach, boat party and holiday vibe that permeates all Croatian festivals: all of which began at Croatia’s first known festival: Garden.

Data Transmission arrived directly from Hideout into the 8th instalment of Garden, already halfway through its week long event.

Amongst todays ever shorter set times, shorter days and shorter events, here Garden’s week long stretch has an instant effect as guests  move out of weekender mode and into a week long cruise.  there are no tribes here: in place of the usual Team Tanning girls, the Boys Who Bench and the blogger elite there is a loose collection of some 2500 from all walks : 40-something’s on their 4th visit here, sat by the bar talking to students, seasoned festival-ers buying rounds with last – minute -here – for – the sun couples. Move up to the main restaurant area it’s the same: DJs sat at lunch chatting away to passers by: a journalist in fits as a drunk student takes the wrong plate and Ironically eats everything, of Eats Everything’s lunch. Being one can only guess how many pints in, the man himself laughs it off. Despite being surrounded by the rapid evolution of both Croatia’s clubbing climate and an increasingly seperate, cliquey house vibe echoing through the electronic community, bouncing off of so many raised fists and chiselled chests, Garden retains the same carefree vibe that first put it on the map. 

And what a map that would make. Apartments encircle a campsite- including a village of colourful little sheds boasting power, fans and wifi access called Podpads and a large live stage, beyond which lies a beach with a mini and a main stage – the latter with a DJ booth set into the rock and a deck stretching right out into the water. The crowd begin arriving onto this stage around 1Opm following an afternoon of intensive tanning and DJs mixing tracks between beers. As darkness falls lights shimmer through the steel stage structures and out into the glassy water, the focal point being a retro glitter ball. Fitting, as the vibe here is unselfconsciously mellowed house pushing into self consciously mellow disco, ranging from piano reworks of The Streets and slowed up 90s vocal reworks all the way through to straight-out- of-70s-cop- drama tunes: a fitting theme of Garden and its crowd: part counter culture – a feeling of how festivals must have been in the beginning, and part statement: alongside numbers capping and an approximate 50% artist return rate year on year, Croatia might be changing, but Garden doesn’t plan to. Don’t let the retro theme alarm however, whilst the sound was more often darling than dubstep, Garden shows both veteran experience and Futurboogie– run programming savvy, with Justin Martin, Eats Everything, PBR Streetgang, Bicep and Maxxi Soundsytem topping a diverse line up. 

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