7 Best Serbian Festivals To Attend

The location of a famous film and music festival

Last night Johnny Depp was playing the guitar at a rock concert while the singer was singing about stealing Johnny’s girlfriend. That’s not all, the concert was announced by Jim Jarmusch. Total madness! Oh, yes, and we’d watched some new films at FEST before that.

(Sinoć je Džoni Dep svirao gitaru na rok koncertu dok je pevač pevao o tome kako je ukrao Džonijevu devojku. To nije sve, koncert je najavio Džim Džarmus. Bilo je ludilo! Oh, da, pre toga smo gledali neke nove filmove na FEST-u.)

This might sound like a regular night out in Hollywood, but don’t be fooled. What if we told you this happened thirty years ago at a film festival in Belgrade? Sounds surreal? Watch this. Serbian festivals are so awesome that even Johnny Depp has become our regular visitor.

A wide variety of festivals have been a part of Serbian culture for decades. Music, culinary, film, sport, wine, or ethno/traditional – you name it, we have it. Let us guide you through the most popular Serbian festivals you’ll regret not visiting. Get ready to awaken all your senses.

Who’s Singing Over There? (Ko to tamo peva?)

When you ask Serbian people what kind of music they listen to, most of them will say that they love a bit of everything. Their choice of music depends mostly on the occasion and their emotional state. 

Music festivals reflect this state of mind. Serbian music festivals are a concoction of every type of music that crosses your mind. 

  • Traditional folk sounds? Checked. 
  • Urban dance music? We’ve got it. 
  • Angry rock and metal riffs? Get ready to headbang. 
  • Smooth jazz? Sit back and relax.

We present to you the top 3 Serbian music festivals.

Sluša mi se narodna muzika i igra mi se kolo. Hajdemo u Guču! (I feel like listening to traditional folk music and dancing kolo (traditional dance). Let’s go to Guča!)

– Ja bih pre da igram celu noć na Egzitu u Novom Sadu. Moj omiljeni didžej nastupa ovog leta. (I’d rather dance all night at EXIT in Novi Sad. My favorite DJ is playing this summer.)

– Društvo, lepo se provedite. Ja čekam Bir fest da slušam omiljene bendove. (Guys, have fun. I’m waiting for Beer fest to listen to my favorite bands.)

The Guča Trumpet Festival (Dragačevski sabor trubača)

If you want to experience Serbian culture to the fullest, you must go to Guča. Hundreds of thousands of people, both Serbs and foreigners, young and old, head for this small village in August every year. Trumpet orchestras have been performing and competing for the first prize – Zlatna truba (The Golden Trumpet) for decades.

Consider this festival to be an endurance test. We expect you to dance vigorously, eat, drink, not sleep, and repeat all this for four days in a row. When you reach the goal of standing on both your feet at the end of day four, you’ll prove that you’re one of us and we’ll be proud of you.

Exit Festival - Welcome To Novi Sad, The European Capital Of Culture

Crowd Dancing at Serbian Exist Festival Dance Arena
Have the time of your life at Exit Festival Dance Arena (image source: Unsplash)

Did you know that EXIT is good for your health? An average Exit attendee takes around 130,000 steps during the festival. If you’re into urban Serbian culture, Novi Sad offers you one of the greatest summer festivals in Europe.

Idemo na tvrđavu! (Let’s go to the fortress!)

Exit has a two-decade-long tradition of hosting the world’s most famous stars and dancing the night away. Burn up the dance floor at the Main stage, Dance arena, Fusion stage, or Explosive stage at the Petrovaradin Fortress on the right bank of the Danube. 

Belgrade Beer Fest

Can you imagine entering the biggest music event in a capital city for free, drinking affordable craft beer, and going on carnival rides all in one place? Belgrade’s up for it.

Over five days in mid-August approximately half a million people listen to rock and pop music and taste over 100 brands of Serbian and international beer. Don’t like dressing up? This is the most laid-back festival ever. Make yourself at home and assimilate into the atmosphere.

Lovefest in Vrnjačka Banja, Arsenal fest in Kragujevac, Nišville in Niš, and Gitarijada in Zaječar are also attention-worthy.

Get Your Stomach Ready for All the -IJADAs

Close your eyes and point anywhere at the map of Serbia. Now open your eyes. Congrats, you’ve found a place that hosts a food festival!

Roštiljijada

The world’s biggest pljeskavica that weighed like a human being (63kg; 163lb) was made at Roštiljijada (grilled meat festival) in Leskovac in 2016. Serbian people adore food, competing, and breaking world records, and this Serbian food festival is proof of that.

While the chefs are fighting for supremacy over the best ćevapčići, you can dig into gourmet food and delight your palate with meaty mouth-watering delicacies.

Kupusijada

Nothing describes Serbian culture and tradition better than svadbarski kupus*. Imagine a dish so compelling that a whole festival is dedicated to it. “Celo selo kuva” (The whole village is cooking) is the slogan that describes Kupusijada best. 

*a slow-cooked dish consisting of sauerkraut, beef, pork, lamb, and/or bacon layered in a crock and seasoned with sweet and hot paprika, and black pepper

Kupusijada takes place in the village of Mrčajevci in September. Not only can you enjoy the food, but also learn everything about cabbage, attend exhibitions of handicrafts and agricultural products, and explore cultural events.

We Want More

If these two most renowned festivals aren’t enough, you can also check out Slaninijada (bacon fest), Čvarkijada (cracklings fest), Kobasicijada (sausage fest), Sremska Kulenijada (pepperoni fest).

Film Festivals

Did you know that there are more than 30 international film festivals in Serbia? Serbia is a paradise for movie buffs. Grab your popcorn, and let us introduce you to the most outstanding ones.

FEST

This cultural pillar started under the slogan “A Brave New World” more than fifty years ago. Since then, generations of film fans have developed their taste and broadened their film horizons thanks to the FEST.

Marcello Mastroianni, Liv Ullman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sophia Loren, Robert de Niro, Johnny Depp, Milos Forman, Catherine Deneuve, Wim Wenders, and Monica Bellucci have been some honorable guests at the FEST. So why wouldn’t you want to be there?

Küstendorf

The church in the picturesque town Drvengrad, where Küstendorf Film Festival Mokra Gora takes place
Enjoy breathtaking views and thought-provoking feature films in this idyllic town made from wood (hence the name Drvengrad) (image source: Unsplash)

Now let’s get back to the beginning of the story. How Serbian are you from 0 to Johnny Depp? The man had his life-sized statue unveiled in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, in 2010 and he takes every chance to come to our country and pronounce Serbian phrases perfectly. 

Drvengrad (also known as Küstendorf) is an ethno-art village in the mountains where you can stroll down the “streets” named after the most prominent film heroes.

The main protagonist of Drvengrad’s story is an acclaimed film director and the festival founder Emir Kusturica (a good pal of Johnny’s). He’s brought together filmmakers and movie icons from around the world in unique surroundings. Küstendorf presents you with contemporary feature films, exhibitions, concerts, and retrospectives of greatness.

Ready To Blend In With Serbian Festival Goers?

Baš mi se sada ide na neki srpski festival! (Now I really feel like going to a Serbian festival!)

Are you inspired to start exploring Serbian culture through festivals? You won’t need much preparation to enjoy and behave like a local. Learn more about what you can say if someone invites you to the cinema and how you can get to know people at festivals in our Pre-Intermediate course, or contact us for online lessons.

 

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