Photo Gallery and Review: Meadows in the Mountains

The Bulgarian mountain frolick returns bigger than ever.
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Watching a festival grow from inception is like watching your kids grow up. Now in its seventh year, Meadows in the Mountains has finally come of age. While the youthful innocence and exuberance have faded somewhat, it can now legitimately be considered among one of the most unique festival experiences the world has to offer.

No one, its founders included, ever imagined that this rugged guerrilla operation would grow by word of mouth into the event that it now is. Taking place high in the Bulgarian mountains, the logistical operation needed to get this festival is unique: the festival site is only accessible by 4x4, adding to the challenge but making the experience that much more exceptional. The preferred mode of transport for previous years was actually donkey and cart. Adding to the charm is the fact there are no hotels in the nearby village; rather, locals rent out their spare rooms and summer houses to the incoming festival goers. With camping the other option, stay away if you're after home comforts.

On the musical side, the festival has three stages: The sunrise stage, with amazing views over the valleys below, the main stage for live acts, and the newly added woodland stag deep in the forest.On the electronic side, Berlin-based Bruno Schmidt curates part of the lineup, and the event has welcomed Jane Fitz, Francesco del Garda, and Binh in previous years. Highlights this year saw extended sets by Brian not Brian, Youandewan, and Shanti Celesteon Friday night, followed on Saturday with Valentino Kanzyani and rising Irish DJ Saoirse. The highlight at the woodland stage was a marathon b2b2b by Bulgarian DJs Garo, Bosha, and Laylla Dane. Inexhaustible, their session was cut short by the plug being pulled when the speakers were required elsewhere.

For those wishing for a true cultural immersion flavored Bulgarian, then this isn't the right festival for you: it's much more Secret Garden Party than Sunwaves. And despite the organizers' best efforts, it still has the feeling of a UK festival superimposed on a foreign landscape. However, don't let this diminish from the fact this festival is a very welcome addition to the European circuit; thanks to a well-chosen lineup and gorgeous surroundings, this is a special event that is sure to be enjoyed by those electronic music fans who seek a little bit of adventure, too.

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Photos:
Joro Panchev
Jack Pasco
Aron Klein