After seven long hours of travelling, I was met at Sofia airport by a huge group of beautiful colourfully decorated strangers, carrying tents and discussing the unbelievably cheap Bulgarian drinks prices. For many this was considered the re-fuel phase, as within the next hour a party bus would pick us up and take us on a four hour trip up bumpy, narrow and winding mountain roads; it takes a certain person to commit to the travelling, but it also highlights that everyone on that bus REALLY wants to be there!
‘Meadows in the Mountains’ (MITM) is probably a festival you hadn’t heard of 6 months ago – I certainly hadn’t, but there I was, sat on the party bus, discussing all things music and listening to tips from those that had been before. MITM has a reputation for unity and this was something that I picked up on when I chose my seat: everyone discussing their backgrounds, where they were from, where they work and showing their general enthusiasm in anticipation for the big arrival. Of course, this was all done whilst handing out plastic cups to share their duty free drink purchases in.
When we finally reached Polkovnik Serafimovo, we collected our wristbands and were handed our accommodation information. For most it was a rustic Bulgarian village house and for the rest it was camping or ‘glamping’ in some pretty cool bell tents. By this time, those colourfully decorated strangers I spoke about had began sweating off their glitter, as everyone headed to bed to get ready for day one of the festival.
I woke up for the first day, brushed my teeth in the garden and ate some strawberries from my host’s plants; it was time to head up to the festival site, a calf strengthening exercise. The MITM team pride themselves on being completely eco-friendly, a real hippie vibe and I instantly noticed it when exploring the stages. Everything made from timber, some proper craftsmanship had gone into the designing and creation of the site that stood pitched at the top of the mountain. Standing at the top made everyone realise we were now a long way from the densely populated cities we had left behind.
Clothes stalls stood hand in hand, the most colourful gypsy garms you could ever dream of, clashes of patterns, a selection of hats, crazy head ware and furry jackets, all to be tried on in the camper van, which acted as a dressing room. These stalls were filled to the brim daily with people searching for the wackiest festival attire. A faint sound of a banging tambourine and the shaking of a maraca could be heard. At first it was hard to understand where the sound was coming from, but it soon clicked that a weird shaped box with a tiny door was the place to be for a jamming session, Mummar Mountain.
The main stage on Friday was where a spectacular musician from the USA called home. Quickly, word spread of this violinist’s epic stage dive, whilst confidently playing and hitting every note correctly, not only with the violin, but with his voice. It was Marques Toliver a guy that dropped out of school and travelled to New York whilst busking. His impeccable skills mean that he is now an influential musician after breaking to fame on Late night with Jools Holland.
The sun began to set above the main stage, a creation of different shades of red yellow and orange. Amber Shells took to the stage as night fell, and these two London lads knew how to really get the full party festival atmosphere going. Usually residing at Shapes, they came with an army of tracks, blending an eclectic mix of house and techno, with elements of groovy groove to take everyone well into the deep of the night.
As the night descended, many partied on, successfully clearing the Prosecco bar, while others reached for chilled spots to chat with strangers. The pirate ship, manned by a group of guys in rotating propeller hats, was full to the brim, as those that needed five minutes to gather their thoughts used this as their base. The naming of the Sunrise Stage hinted the most surreal times to catch some of the best in house and techno and all of a sudden 6am was well upon us.
Albrecht Wassersleben, founder of Uncanny Valley greeted the sunrise with the best ambient morning beats, encouraging everyone to keep warm as the sun slowly rose. On this night not many had made it to sunrise, some flagging due to travel or finding a spot down by the fire, but those that were there, turned around to see a misty blissful sunrise.
Saturday saw the festival reach its fullest capacity; EVERYONE had made it, the sun was shining and a man serving Bulgarian cheese on toast looked up to a queue of people throwing 5lev at him for another slice. The ground was clean, the no plastic policy encouraged everyone to buy a cup and keep it filled to the brim with sangria all weekend.
Sleeping was the last thought on everyone’s mind, many kipped in hay bails for a few hours, unwilling to tackle the treacherous path back down to the village, refuelling on falafel and salad. Those that made it down to their tents created beds outside as the sun was doing its thing. For the people that had managed to get a few hours in, there was an open invitation to yoga, over looking a valley where others took part in tight-roping courses.
There was slight doubt in my mind that the music from Friday night could be bettered by Saturday. I had heard everything I could have dreamed of on the Friday. Lion Club providing chilled music, acoustic sounds filled the main stages during the day and in the evening DJ’s had played their hearts out to provide oriental sounds, bass sounds, acid sounds and house and techno.
At 1am, DJ Anna Wall took to the main stage. Her set was filled with groovy and funky disco classics, as pink lighting shone over her. The crowd moved closer to the stage, as the music made everyone want to jump into her Pioneer set up and be amongst the tracks. Women, dressed as ducks from the USA, began to chant ‘Anna’ and many joined in, creating a Mexican wave effect. Not one person stopped moving throughout Anna’s two hour set and when Anna dropped Lil Louis’ ‘French Kiss,’ the tempo dropped.