British revellers heading overseas for music festivals is nothing new. However, with the prices of those at home becoming extortionate, boarding a flight is now in many cases a cheaper, more viable option for those not wanting to check their bank balance every time they order a cider.
Like many other festivals abroad, the line-up is a match for most back home. Celebrating its 15th year, a move towards a dance heavier line-up at Exit still left room to cater for most tastes. The extreme eclecticism was perhaps best surmised on the Friday night with the acts jumping from Motorhead, which lead singer Lemmy made abundantly clear is a "f*****g rock and roll and band" throughout their tight, Ace of Spades capped set, to Goldie via Tom Odell. Away from the larger arenas could be found the Reggae Stage, cheesy hits at the silent disco (which was brilliantly and bizarrely wound up with Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You on one of the evenings) and for fans of the tone deaf, even a Karaoke Stage.
But where EXIT, and some other festivals abroad, differentiate themselves from many offerings in the UK is in its ability to offer much more than just bands and DJs in a field.
The most obvious element is the weather, which is almost certain to be spectacular. Some might say it was too good this year with temperatures hitting 37C the day before the event began. Still, better than checking the forecast for torrential downpours.
With the festival not getting started until 6pm and not really filling up until around 10pm, there is time and opportunity to discover what else Serbia has to offer.
One of EXIT's biggest draws is its location, with the wide mix of stages spread across an ancient fortress. The grounds are used to brilliant effect, with attractions hidden away within the trenches circling the centre of the defence base and the lofty setting making for some incredible views of the Danube and Novi Sad, the town in which the festival is held. It's even possible to take tours through the network of tunnels underneath, which are in incredible condition thanks to the walls never being breached in its long history.
The major draw during the daytime is the beach on the banks of the Danube. Despite the fast flow of the river, going for a dip is irresistible due to the hot weather. It's a place that attracts the beefcakes and bikini clad locals as much as the noticeably paler Brits and those from other corners of the globe; This year there were over 60 nationalities in attendance. Pumping music, foam parties and cold beer mean it's almost as full-on as the festival itself.
The centre of Novi Sad is also worth exploring, with cafe filled piazzas offering a contrast to the festival's more rough and ready feel.
A trip to EXIT offers a festival wrapped in a rounded holiday offering culture, relaxation and fun. And best of all, at prices that make festivals at home feel like they should be the exclusive playground of the celebrities and their backstage cronies rather than the students and youngsters for which festivals are truly for.
Forget the £6-a-pint-plus that punters in the UK are regularly being screwed for every time they want a refreshment, or the £10 for something dressed up as 'gourmet' but is ultimately a hot dog cooked in a field. At EXIT drinks are less than £2 and food (of which the portions at the festival and elsewhere in Serbia are insanely big) is not much more.
In addition, tickets are under £100 for the four day event. Contrast that to the likes of Glastonbury and Reading, which this year were both in excess of £200 and the value for money is impossible to ignore. With an increasing number of flights heading to the capital Belgrade (about an hour away from the site), cheap travel is easy enough to come by, especially for those that plan ahead.
Camping is an option but considering the extreme heat, staying in a hotel or apartment is advisable and again, budget options are aplenty with £100 enough to secure a shared apartment for nearly an entire week (per person).
But just because it's cheap, doesn't mean corners are cut. The light show on the main stage will rival anything else seen this year, particularly the cacophony of lasers that accompanied Faithless' classics on the closing night and the firework display that preceded it.
Meanwhile the Dance Arena is arguably the best in the world in terms of setting. Beat seekers descend makeshift stairs into a pit of movement and energy, where thousands fill a high walled trench in front of the stage. The sheer scale of it is incredible, and when soundtracked by the likes of Hardwell and Martin Garrix and lit by the rising sun in the early hours of the morning, it becomes as close to a clubbers' paradise as it's possible to come.
This year the tagline to the festival, which started as a student movement as the country emerged from its troubled past, was 15 years of sharing love. The friendly vibe permeating the festival was enough to demonstrate that was a fitting way to surmise the event, but when the chief organiser proposed to his girlfriend on the main stage during Capital Cities' set, it proved that those behind the festival truly believe in it. The efforts and imagination poured into the event won't have gone unnoticed by those who attended.
It'll be back in 12 months time and for so many reasons, from the prices to the setting, there will be just as much to love at EXIT next time around.
Travel to EXIT was courtesy of Air SerbiaReuse content