In recent years, it's occured to FHM that Britain's festivals are reaching saturation point. What was once a melting pot of hippies, metallers and rock-munching dance hounds, is now infested with posh teenagers named Tarquin, squealing "butt-scratcher".
If you don't recall any such annoying teeny-boppers offering free hugs and trying to go 'twos' on cigarettes, it's because it was you. But it's not all bad news: as much as we love a festival, this year we headed to Serbia - home of succulent barbecued meats and startlingly tall men - for the EXIT Festival.
The festival has built up an illustrious history, starting ten years ago as a means to encourage young people to vote against the then-President, Slobodan Miloševic. But that was all a bit hush hush at the time. The following year, the festival hopped over the river Danube to be hosted at the Petrovaradin fortress - yeah, FORTRESS.
You'd never guess, but Deadmau5 played too.
Those ten years have seen some astounding acts and performances, and it's abundantly clear that the crowd adores anyone that graces the festival's stage - with many acts dubbing EXIT the best performance of their tour, or even their careers. The last decade of headliners has included the likes of Cypress Hill, Massive Attack, David Guetta, Dizzee Rascal, Simian Mobile Disco, Prodigy, and, erm, Lily Allen.
EXIT pitches itself mainly as a dance festival, with some indie/pop acts thrown in for good measure - just look at 2011's headliners, which included Arcade Fire, Editors, Pulp, MIA and Jamiroquai. Another huge bonus about EXIT is that the sound is amazing. Music at festivals often equates to pitiful whimpers tumbling across the wind. But, somehow, the thick stone walls of EXIT's fortress contain the sound - so you can be shaking your sweet Latino hips to some Salsa at one stage, whilst a few metres away the crowd are writhing to thumping house music.
The view from the Petrovaradin fortress, complete with Tuborg sponsored foliage.
The idea of stumbling around on a 300-year-old fortress obviously trumps wading through a farm in Reading. Plus the Petrovaradin fortress also has hundreds of tunnels, which give access to different areas. At one point we nipped through a tunnel and popped up at a terrace next to the dance stage, overlooking 4,000 people. Brilliantly, the organisers have vowed to make more use of the tunnels next year. We hope there'll be a cake-themed one.
Beyond the fortress, Serbia is awesome. The river Danube runs through the city of Novi Sad, where the festival takes place, and is treated like their seaside. Every day, thousands of revellers party on a packed beach, by bars and food stands, until the early hours. Further into the city, there's some impressive architecture - rather than the soulless, Eastern blocs we ignorantly expected. Also, on the weekend of EXIT 2011, Novi Sad was officially the hottest place in Europe, clocking in at a toasty 37°C.
The Dance Arena has a huge Colosseum at the back. Just like the Romans, with less tigers.
Serbia's currency is the Dinar. £1 equates to about 1,000 Dinar at the time of writing and, thankfully, EXIT has avoided the temptation to inflate prices to match the rise in attendance. 5,000 Dinar will get you a good meal, 10,000 Dinar will get you a bloody great meal. What's the difference? An even greater stack of Serbian meat to be precise. Barbecue is a Serbian speciality, as is their lethal shot, Rakia. Taxis from the town centre to the festival should cost no more than 3,000 Dinar and, even better, a pint is about 2,100.
The festival doesn't start until 7pm and runs until about 9am (because of the eye-melting heat during the day), so you'll probably end up doing more holiday things in the daytime - or just sleeping through it. Although, the extreme heat does mean that camping would be a painful experience - but, thankfully, there's some reasonably cheap accommodation nearby. The only major problem is that whilst there are some great headliners, EXIT didn't quite quench our thirst for live music - so you'll probably want to head to another festival as well, just to get your fill...
All was going well, until an owl literally exploded at the sight of sheer awesomeness.
How Did FHM Get There?
Well, NoMud.com is the answer. As their name suggests, No Mud offer the chance to avoid the mud, tents and torrential rain of the many 'closer to home' events over the summer, by jetting you abroad to exotic festivals and booking everything in the same place.
This includes festival wristbands, accommodation and airport transfers. Flights can also be included separately, making your bilingual booze up a lot easier to organise. Head to NoMud.com and book yourselves some tickets to the EXIT festival 2012. You won't regret it.