You know what a festival is. It involves filth and grime, zero sleep, enough deafening music to make your ears pop, tents, wellies, bad decisions, face-wipe ‘showers’, crisps for dinner, crisps for breakfast and enough warm beer to fill a brewery. Do you know what a restival is?
A restival is your best holiday ever, with added music. A paradise with sea views, no children, rocky beaches, brilliant bands, watermelon cocktails, grilled fish and air-conditioned forest lodges. The newest restival on the scene is Obonjan, named for the tiny Croatian island it inhabits in the Adriatic Sea, an hour’s boat ride from the historic city of Šibenik.
Unlike festivals, a restival runs all summer – it’s up to you how long you stay for. Obonjan welcomed its first ever guests in August, a couple of weeks behind schedule (blame water shortages). The last stragglers reluctantly boarded the ship back to Šibenik on 7 September, the morning after the festival’s closing party.
Although Obonjan’s amphitheatre, DJ booths and Forest Bar attracted the likes of Gilles Peterson, Gold Panda, Horse Meat Disco, Mr Scruff, Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals (utterly brilliant), DJ Shadow, Local Natives, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Kate Tempest and co. this year, music is just one part of proceedings. DJs warmed the basking beachside crew up around noon most days, with the main music often kicking off from 6pm and ending around 3am or 4am. Ergo you can party, but you can also grab a good night’s sleep.
It’s not all about the boozing, either – far from it, in fact, despite the excellent cocktails on offer. Obonjan runs a busy schedule of activities and entertainment, with a strong arts and wellness focus. This year, options included 7am sun salutations at East Harbour, meditation and mindful doodling, talks, enough yoga classes to woo a yogi, fitness sessions curated by Akala, film screenings at the Pavilion, star-gazing and much, much more.
Obonjan is designed for maximum comfort, too. Sleeping quarters are either luxury tents or forest lodges. The latter are worth the extra cost, thanks to their ridiculously comfortable beds, air-conditioning units (we didn’t even need ours, but it’s nice to know it’s there), plug sockets, charger points, little fridge (perfect for stashing supplies from the island’s excellent, if expensive, Corner Shop in) and bathroom with shower and hairdryer.
Then there’s the food. In its inaugural year, Obonjan offered restival-goers the choice of wood-fired pizza (delicious), Sri Lankan street food (delicious), Mediterranean-inspired sharing plates at Bok (delicious) and more Med options at the Kitchen – including an excellent seafood pasta and an unctuous pork belly starter with walnuts and prunes (delicious). Drinks came courtesy of Drift Bar by the sea, the Pool Bar (yes, there’s also a beautiful swimming pool) and the Forest Bar, hidden away among the trees.
We left Obonjan feeling better than we did when we arrived, something you could never say about a festival. Restivals are the future. That said, there’s more to Croatia than music, dancing, delicious food and mind-broadening speakers. Handsome hotels, for example…