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Obonjan – The New Type of Curated Arts Festival

July 7, 2016

ArtsPerformance | by Harry Seymour


Croatia has gained momentum in the last decade as a place to go for festivals. With over twenty to choose from in 2016 alone, new kid on the scene, “Obonjan” has found a unique approach as to how to draw in the crowds. This idyllic island, surrounded by crystal blue seas, is offering a curated festival of the arts that lasts for the entire summer, so guests have the chance to drop in and out as they please, while staying in the luxury festival accommodation provided.

Obonjan Island
Obonjan Island

The island has had a ten million pound refurbishment by a British entrepreneur, Dan Blackledge, who founded Unknown Festival and aims to turn the island in to the Croatian Riviera for creatives. Starting in July, the previously uninhabited island will kick off a six-week programme of music, food, wellbeing and art events, all curated by an expert creative team. The festival focuses on community – the idea is to come together as a united creative spirit, empowering the arts for a good time, together. The project was designed by the local architect Una Barac, who employs local and recycled materials, and the festival even consulted the original creative team behind Cornwall’s Eden Project to make sure it has minimal ecological disruption. There are eventual plans to turn the island in the Adriatic in to a fully functioning year-round creative hideaway. Think artist summer Mediterranean commune, brought in to the 21st century.

Obonjan Island
Obonjan Island

Apart from the art on the island, there is music to keep you dancing from Jazz to Electronica, featuring names such as Anderson .Paak, Craig Charles, DJ Shadow, and Four Tet to name a few. There are five restaurants offering local and organic meals, a spa, pool, fashion and jewellery boutiques, hot tub, kayaking and boat trips.

Obonjan Island
Obonjan Island

Forget Lord of the Flies, accommodation is provided for up to 800 guests in eco-lodges and glamping style bell tents, all nestled amongst forests and olive groves. In the daytime, there are yoga classes, art workshops and talks on everything from marine biology to astronomy. For purist art lovers, there is also an underwater sculpture park – something that is very on trend. It takes the experience of visiting a gallery, and being at a festival, colliding them perfectly to create a Fluxus style happening for like-minded creative individuals. You can snooze, drink, eat, dance and wonder at art all without stepping foot off the island. It’s a fully immersive, live-in experience.

Obonjan is open from July 28 to September 6, 2016. Visit http://www.obonjan-island.com for more information.

Wizz Air offers the best return flights from London to Split in Croatia, then it’s just a 30 minute ferry to the island.