In August we sampled our first Bulgarian music festival, Spirit of Burgas. It takes place in a beautiful part of Bulgaria – right on the Black Sea coast. As festival experiences go, it was high up there. It was pretty special partying on the beach in the height of summer…and not having to pack wellies.
|Spirit of Burgas…makes a change from a muddy field.|
We missed the first day. Having only arrived in Bulgaria on the Thursday, we were too tired to make the six-hour trek out to the coast on Friday. So we set off early Saturday morning, driving down to Sofia where we left the car and took a coach out to Burgas. I couldn’t face another mammoth drive so soon after our cross-Europe trip, that’s why we took the bus. Six hours on a Bulgarian coach is…well, cheap. The best thing was watching the Sex and the City movie double bill, dubbed in Bulgarian on a tiny TV screen. No wait, that was the worst thing – that and the lack of toilet on board. That’s right, six hours on a coach and only one toilet stop on the way! Now, I have the World’s Smallest Bladder, so naturally I had to limit my water intake to 2 millilitres of water per hour. Not even exaggerating. The best thing, however, was being able to look out of the window and take in the beautiful scenery and let someone else do the driving.
So, we arrived at the festival Saturday afternoon, worried that we might not find a space to pitch the tent. We were amazed to find, for a festival of 40,000 people, hardly anyone was actually camping on-site. Most people with tickets were either locals or staying in town. We reckon there were less than 200 tents there. This was brilliant as during the day the festival grounds are closed to everyone but campers – so we had the beach all to ourselves, and spankingly clean toilets to ourselves. You literally camp right on the sand and wander down to the water for a dip. The town itself is five minutes from the festival site so plenty of things to do there during the day. Burgas itself is lovely. Originally we would have liked to base our house search in Burgas, but we had to discount it because it’s too far from the capital and the cheap year-round flights at Sofia airport. It’s got a cool, faded laid-back vibe. Nice buildings, pretty sea gardens and a big, sandy beach – although being a busy port I can’t vouch for the quality of the sea water!
|Sleeping off the night before…|
Young Bulgarians do like to party. They like their late nights. And Bulgarian authorities have no concept of noise regulations. So the music didn’t kick off until about 9pm each night and it went on until 5am each morning – at ear-splitting volume! Camping at the site, we got basically no sleep for both nights. It was so different to a UK festival where the main stage shuts down by midnight to keep the neighbours happy. In Burgas, the main acts didn’t even come on until midnight. But then, as daytimes were just spent lazing on the beach, a lack of sleep wasn’t an issue. Speaking of the acts, we saw Moby, Skunk Anansie, Leftfield, Deftones and Scratch Perverts. Skunk Anansie were my favourite, but Moby was also brilliant.
|A great spot for camping, but note the proximity to the main stage! Noise ahoy.|
It was strangely lacking in food and drink facilities in the arena/campsite area. There were loads of bars, but the only beer on sale was Becks (but at £1.50 a pint for a festival beer I didn’t complain). And the only food option was hot dogs. That was it. If you’re a hot dog and Becks fan, you’ll be in your element at Spirit of Burgas. We preferred to head outside the festival grounds for food. It was certainly refreshing to go to a festival that wasn’t trying to fleece you of your money at every opportunity. But – and this sounds really bad – I’d just like to be able to get a latte in the morning without straying far from my tent. There, I said it. I’m a horribly spoilt festival-goer. Lack of lattes aside, it was a brilliant weekend and we’re already looking forward to going back next year.