Euronews Culture will be on the scene at EXIT Festival this year. Here's a preview of everything you need to know about Serbia's most exciting music event.
It’s now less than a week until the start of EXIT Festival, the award-winning musical gathering which sees a stacked line-up of hip-hop and dance artists flock to a Serbian forest.
Founded in 2000, EXIT Festival has quickly grown from its humble origins as a student movement protesting for democracy in the Balkans to one of Serbia’s premier music festivals. This year’s edition will take place again in the beautiful Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, which has played host to EXIT since 2001.
This year’s edition sees a line-up led by some of the biggest names in dance music and hip-hop. The Prodigy return as part of their first tour since the death of frontman Keith Flint, Wu-Tang Clan will bring their era-defining rap entourage and late night ravers will be entertained by the likes of dance-icon Skrillex.
Euronews Culture will be reporting from the scene at EXIT Festival this year from 6-9 July. In anticipation, here’s our preview of everything you need to know.
EXIT Festival’s setting in Petrovaradin Fortress makes it one of the most unique festivals in Europe. The town is part of Serbia’s second biggest city Novi Sad and its fortress was first constructed by the Austrians in 1692.
Completed in 1780, it stands on a fortified hillside overlooking the city. Over its 300 year history, It has been the site of multiple battles between Turkish and Austrian forces but, today, it’s better known as the Gibraltar of the Danube.
After the initial student protest iteration of EXIT Festival, following the 2000 Yugoslavia elections, the event moved to the Fortress for its second edition. Since then, it has grown to become one of the world’s biggest music festivals and the biggest in south-eastern Europe, with more than 200,000 visitors annually.
EXIT Festival has also become internationally recognised as one of the highest quality across the continent. It's won Best Major Festival at the European Festivals Awards twice, in 2013 and 2017, as well as being regularly featured as one of the hottest tickets on the European festival scene by media outlets on a yearly basis.
Novi Sad was the European Capital of Culture in 2022, but it remains remarkable that organisers can fit in a huge 40 different stages and zones for audiences to enjoy music for four days running.
This year’s line-up is stacked with some of the best acts in the world with a particular focus on hip-hop and dance music.
Headliners this year are The Prodigy, Skrillex, Eric Prydz, Alesso and the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s a welcome homecoming for both The Prodigy and Wu-Tang Clan who both previously headlined the festival for the first time in 2007.
The Prodigy returned in 2009, 2013 and 2016 and are firm favourites in Novi Sad. This will be a particularly poignant performance though as it's their first time back in Serbia without frontman Keith Flint, who died in 2019. Originally a dancer for Liam Howlett’s solo dance act, Flint became an essential member of the group. The Prodigy quickly grew to include the vocals of rapper Maxim, but it wasn’t until Flint started lending his anarchic voice and personality to the songs that the band hit international success with their single ‘Firestarter’ in 1996.
Returning for their first time at the event since 2007, Wu-Tang Clan are still recognised as one of the most influential collectives in the rap genre. The collective of some of the finest wordsmiths in music RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and Cappadonna will make them a force to be reckoned with. Their unique brand of Shaolin and chess-inspired rap is set to bring the festival alight for its final night.
Before that though, there is incredible DJ talent to keep people entertained, from the rejuvenated Skrillex to Swedish producer Eric Prydz. Elsewhere in the festival are drum & bass and electronic duos Chase & Status and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike who will bring massive beats to the Fortress atmosphere.
The festival is also putting female acts front and centre with the mts Dance Arena stage showcasing an all-female lineup on the opening day. There’s fan-favourite techno artist Nina Kravis, Belgian DJ Amelie Lens, and Spanish DJ Indira Paganotto.
EXIT is also celebrating all the women in hip-hop with a focus on Balkan stars, like the Slovenian artist Senidah, alongside other great acts like Mimi Mercedez, Sajsi MC and Kejit.
Thanks to its origins in a student protest movement demanding democracy in Yugoslavia, the spirit of youth rebellion is still at the core of EXIT Festival.
There’s a focus on social responsibility through music, from environmental sustainability to humanitarian work. Green Я:Evolution is the festival’s ecological platform with the goal of planting one million more trees in Serbia. There is also mental health awareness drive with a dedicated well-being sector in place at the event.