Foodie blogger Lauren Archer of www.scranonthetyne.com has been living out the final days of summer at the mysterious Unknown Festival in Croatia. Naturally, we couldn’t let her depart without her own pair of Red Hot Sunglasses. Armed with a super-chic pair of Saint Laurent sunglasses, Lauren fills us in on her enviable travel (and partying) diary from the event here exclusively at Style File….
by Lauren Archer
Depressingly, the last days of summer are behind us and BIG COAT WEATHER looms menacingly in the distance. I’m sure the last thing you want to read about is long summer days filled with music and sunshine and ice cold beverages, but that’s exactly what you’re going to read about here. Sorry! The summer season is littered with festivals aplenty, both on UK shores and across Europe, and this year I took the trip over to Rovinj, Croatia, to head to Unknown Festival and see what all the fuss is about.
The festival is in it’s second year after a hugely successful launch in 2013 and teasers of the lineup had filtered through social media for months, looking even more impressive than the last. Yes, some UK festivals had a “better” line up, but did they have the gorgeous backdrop of Rovinj, a stunning coastal town on the north-west coast of Croatia? Of course they didn’t.
Organised by the brains behind London’s ‘Field Day’ and the Warehouse Project in Manchester, Unknown is primarily a dance festival. That said, with numerous stages dotted around forests and beaches, alongside an impressive class of resident DJ’s and a lineup of the hottest live acts around, Unknown is a festival that’s in my opinion, doing things properly, and aiming to appeal to a wider audience than what you’d expect from a typical dance event.
After securing press passes for the week, I promised I’d share my adventures with the lovely Red Hot Sunglasses lot, so here goes…my Unknown Festival 2014 diary.
Photo C/o Paul Joseph, Full Fat PR
Monday 8th September – WE’VE ARRIVED!
What a scorcher! Today we’re heading to the Unknown site after a few days down the coast in neighbouring (and stunningly beautiful) Pula, to get our passes and frankly, get our festival on. The queue, as expected, is huge, as throes of revellers from across Europe and beyond wait patiently for their passes. After around half an hour, we’re in. Naturally, it’s straight to the beach.
The Amarin resort that houses Unknown is expansive, with tonnes of accommodation of varying quality, with an enormous campsite, plenty of bars and a LOT of people. The front beach is absolutely jumping and it’s only 4pm, with the resident DJ’s at the pool area (Nicola Bear, Steven Dunn, Last Waltz and Bad Passion to name but a few!) getting everyone in the mood for a damn good week.
The residents are taking centre stage tonight, with music till 2am, before the festival officially kicks off tomorrow. I expect we’ll be here till the bitter end because, well, it would be rude not to really.
Photo C/o Paul Joseph, Full Fat PR
Tuesday 9th September – IT’S BOAT PARTY TIME.
As anticipated, the first night of the festival turned into quite the party and poor us – we have to get up and do it all again in a few hours! After a day on our private beach (we were savvy enough to book accommodation off-site and are staying at the gorgeous ‘Blu Locanda’, just along the shore), enough seafood to sink a ship and some ill-advised sauv blanc, it was time for our first boat party, with the bloody brilliant Last Waltz, Bad Passion and Eric Duncan. The boat parties are running all week, however this one had a special place in our Tyneside hearts, since the Last Waltz and Bad Passion guys are native Geordies.
Kicking off at 5pm with the sun beating down on a boatful of excitable festival goers, it was unlike anything I’d experienced before. Sure, I’ve been on boat parties, yet this wasn’t your typical arrangement. Super cool, friendly people all there just to enjoy the music and have a good time, aka. not a even a hint of Malia/Magaluf boat carnage. Ideal. We met some brilliant people, enjoyed far too much rum and danced the night away in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. The DJ’s were all phenomenal and frankly, it was the perfect kick-off to the official first night of the festival.
A short bus ride took us back to the site where the main stage was filling up for Chic and Nile Rodgers. Yep: CHIC. And Nile Rodgers! By the time their set kicked off at 9.30, the main arena was fully packed and the vibe was amazing. Singing (or screeching in our case) and proper boogying (it’s 70’s guys, come on) was the order of the night, with our entertainers chucking out tune after tune from their huuuuge back catalogue for our pleasure.
The band appeared to be having the time of their lives and the crowd responded accordingly, before Nile Rodgers reminded us all that Chic “Ain’t no cover band!”, presumably so all the young ‘uns in the crowd knew that Daft Punk and Pharrell hadn’t single-handedly come up with all those signature Rodgers riffs. To be fair though, all ages alike enjoyed the set and seeing Chic and Nile Rodgers live is quite the once in a lifetime experience.
Then, it was to the Forest Stage for Daniel Avery and DJ Harvey (amazing!) until an epic storm at around 5am. We took that as our cue to leave, given that we were still in our boat party get up from 12 hours previous. Girls will be girls.
Photos C/o Paul Joseph, Full Fat PR
Wednesday 10th September – GOOD MORNING, CONJUNCTIVITIS!
What a delightful title for this diary entry, don’t you think?! I awoke this morning with a beautiful bout of conjunctivitis, which as you can imagine, is hugely convenient. Lucky, I have my gorgeous Saint Laurent ‘Bold 1’ shades in jet black to keep my gammy eye at bay/in hiding, so it was into Rovinj town for us so I could hunt out some much-needed eye drops. What a brilliantly exciting Wednesday afternoon.
On the plus side, we unearthed a gorgeous back-street Italian restaurant and proceeded to order two main courses each, as you do, to kick the hangover to the curb and try to gain some strength before, shudder… another night at Unknown.
The night’s festivities included drinks with the unstoppable Unknown Festival press team, performances by the amazing Wild Beasts, Kindness and the ever-stunning London Grammar. Lead vocalist Hannah’s voice is so incredible that it had the majority of the crowd in absolute silence, with the atmosphere enhanced further by beautiful lighting and projections on stage. I’ve seen these guys in Newcastle before and have to say, the backdrop of beautiful Rovinj took their performance to another level. Sorry Northumbria Student’s Union!
After that, it was to the forest stage at 1am to see Jamie XX tear it up. Unbelievable! Every member of the crowd were in their element, including me and my poorly little eye. Thank god nobody frowns at you for wearing sunglasses at night at a festival.
Thursday 11th September – THE PENULTIMATE DAY – THE ULTIMATE LINE UP.
It feels like we arrived here a whole 5 minutes ago, but shockingly the festival will be finished on Friday night, so we decided we needed to make the most of it. This included a day on the beach at Blu Locanda, a double lunch, and copious amounts of Croatian white wine from 5pm. Tonight was the night I’d been waiting for all week – the most outstanding Main Stage headliners including Jungle, Ten Walls and Moderat will be closing the show and I cannot wait.
We headed to the site just before 7pm to see the amazing Jungle take to the stage after a quick bar stop. Even more rain couldn’t dampen our spirits, despite the fact it was turning the mud beneath us into full on coloured slush after the paint fight prior to the band. Needless to say, we’ hadn’t gotten ourselves involved in the paint fight, especially since I had my amazing Zara suede tassle jacket on. Ever the practical girl. Jungle were fully amazing and played every track from their highly-acclaimed (and Mercury Music Prize nominated!) self-titled album. Definitely one of my festival highlights.
We escaped the rain and headed to the pool bar for yep, you guessed it, more wine, before heading back to the main stage for Ten Walls. Admittedly, we only knew of the one song (Walking with Elephants, obv) but it was on the whole, pretty good, if slightly more appealing to the younger crowd. Following that were the incredible Moderat, a personal favourite of mine. Combining the talents of Berlin-based electronic outfits Modeselektor and Apparat, I couldn’t think of a better act to close the main stage. The trio covered most of the tracks from their amazing albums ‘II’ and ‘Moderat’, as well as their latest release ‘Last Time’, which I’m a huge fan of.
We then headed to the Atlantis stage and to our absolute delight, hung out backstage while Simian Mobile Disco played to a packed out audience. Fully amazing. I caught up with James from the duo who told me this was the last of their summer festivals and following their set they were headed to the Forest stage to see Dixon play until 6am. So naturally, like truly embarrassing festival groupies, we followed. Cringe. It was worth it though.
By far, my favourite day of the festival.
Friday 12th September – PLEASE! NO MORE ALCOHOL.
I’m starting to sound like one of those people I hate. You know the type, the ones that brag about what time they “eventually” got to bed after a night of partying. But seriously, this day ahead looks pretty dismal for a number of reasons. Primarily because we managed to stay out in the forest watching Dixon till 8am. Secondly because it’s raining again and sun is the only thing we feel could blitz our hangovers. First world problems.
So, the only thing we can do is eat more pizza and book the rest of our adventure across Croatia online, which could be worse, I guess. The very thought of drinking and socialising again is too much to bear, but tonight is the final night of the festival and it’s not even an option to miss it. Tonight, it’s two of my favourites, Disclosure and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs on at the Forest stage.
After a day of bothering the hotel staff with our incessant whinging and ordering of food, it was time. In an effort to go out with a bang, we obviously had to dig out our final night outfits and begin the treacherous task of… getting ready. Again. As always though, after finishing the last of our wine stash, we headed to the site and straight up to the bar where we bumped into the Last Waltz and Bad Passion lads (who’d be taking to the Mad Ferrit stage during the early hours of Saturday morning to close the stage).
If I’m brutally honest, the night was a bit of a blur. Dancing in the Medina to some ridiculously kitsch pop, clambering through the crowds at TEED and Disclosure to watch from the side of the stage, popping to Atlantis to see the amazing Richy Ahmed, before hitting the Mad Ferrit stage until close. We then made it back to the Forest where Disclosure were STILL playing (I’m told they held it down until mid-day Saturday!) before graciously bowing out at 8am.
There is an official closing party on the Saturday evening by the pool, but unfortunately, due to our bodies saying a POINT BLANK “No” to us at the very idea of going out again, it was dinner and bed extremely early before a 6am wake-up call to leave the site and continue with our Croatian adventure.
Unknown, it’s been emotional. See you next year!
To get tickets for Unknown 2015, keep an eye on their website, Twitter and Facebook pages. I’d like to thank the very kind Unknown press team for hooking us up with the amazing press passes and to the acts, bar staff, stewards and other team members for a truly unforgettable experience.
Special Thanks: Paul Joseph from www.wearefullfat.com