It’s Actually Happening: EXIT Festival 2021 Opens Gates

Audience members at EXIT Festival 2021 enjoying the set by Buc Kesidi.
EXIT Photo Team 2021
– Audience members at EXIT Festival 2021 enjoying the set by Buc Kesidi.
42,000 people were on site on day one, June 8.

It was a sight to behold: throngs of people of all ages and a wide variety of origins, walking side by side, hand in hand, arm in arm, along the Boulevard Mihajla Pupina in Novi Sad, towards the Varadin Bridge that spans the Danube, Europe’s second-longest river. 
The spectacular site of Exit Festival: Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Marko Edge Obradovic
– The spectacular site of Exit Festival: Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia.
The festival traditionally kicks off with opening fireworks.

From there they could already glimpse the Petrovaradin Fortress, decorated in the colors of EXIT Festival, the first major festival to take place in Europe since the world went into lockdown more than a year ago. 

There was never any doubt that Pollstar would be on site, should this momentous occasion become a reality. 
The only doubt surrounded the plan itself: welcoming 42,000 guests per day to what is undoubtedly one of the more spectacular festival locations in Europe, July 8-11, to celebrate EXIT’s 20th anniversary and a lineup led by DJ Snake, Charlotte de Witte, Amelie Lens, David Guetta, Sabaton, Solomun, Artbat, Robin Schulz, Asaf Avidan and many more.
Too many times during this past year, event plans had to be scrapped at the eleventh hour due to government restrictions in reaction to coronavirus. The promoters of EXIT Festival experienced this first hand. 
Serbia’s prime minister had already given them the green light for the 20th birthday celebrations in August 2020. However, an increase in coronavirus cases in several of Serbia’s municipalities made her backpedal a mere month ahead of the event. 
Buc Kesidi on EXIT
EXIT Photo Team 2021
– Buc Kesidi on EXIT
Guitarist and vocalist Luka Racic can hardly believed the view.

All water under the bridge, one might say. Walking up towards the entrance to the fortress, surrounded by smiling, excited, likeminded music lovers, filled you up with a sense of normalcy after an abnormal year, and the simple happiness of being surrounded by human beings again. A lot of them.

42,000 is still less than what the EXIT site can hold, but it’s more than enough to make for a proper festival experience. Every guest had proven that they were COVID-free, recovered or vaccinated prior to receiving their wristbands. Locals could take a quick and free test on site and foreign visitors, which make up roughly half of all four-day ticket holders, had to provide proof of the negative they needed to enter the country.
Once inside the fortress walls, you almost forget that there was ever a time in which social gatherings were banned and that they still are in many countries. The broad smiles on people’s faces, the crowds chanting in unison, made for a highly emotional return to live. At times, it was hard to believe your own eyes — like when receiving the notification at 3 a.m. that Charlotte de Witte would be performing in EXIT’s infamous dance arena in a mere hour. 
EXIT founder and CEO Dusan Kovacevic during the opening ceremony.
EXIT Photo Team 2021
– EXIT founder and CEO Dusan Kovacevic during the opening ceremony.
You can see the emotion of being united with an audience again in his eyes!

The Belgian star DJ commented, “Reuniting with tens of thousands of fans from all over the world is an emotional occasion. EXIT’s mts Dance Arena is one of the most incredible open-air stages in the world and has such an atmosphere, especially in the early hours of the morning, when the sun is rising over the fortress walls. It is truly magical.”

It was de Witte’s first show in front of a large audience since the pandemic began and marked a return to the fortress after her performance for last year’s EXIT Life Stream – back then to a restricted capacity of 500 people, today to a full audience.
Dusan Kovacevic, EXIT Founder and CEO said, “I believe this is our destiny. 20 years ago, after all the misery that happened in the Balkans during the 90’s, EXIT was a symbol of returning to normal life for the region. And in 2021 EXIT festival is again a sign of normal life after the pandemic, but this time on a global level.
“The energy created in the fortress when thousands of us were united again, elevated us to the highest possible level and opened a new dimension of the festival experience. I believe that each of us had to rub our eyes to make sure we’re not dreaming.”