From 6-9 June this year, the ninth edition of the Meadows In The Mountains Festival took place in the Bulgarian mountains. About 2,500 festival guests enjoyed a mystical atmosphere beyond reality. The boutique festival is a great example of sustainability at events and how to involve and embed local culture and people.
The sleepy litte village Polkovnik Serafimovo at the boarder of Greece residents around 150 houses in the mountains of Bulgaria. Although locals say “We wouldn’t call those hills mountains” with a wink. It’s a five hours drive from the Bulgarian capital Sofia. While passing smaller villages up the serpentines one already gets an impression of the Bulgarian culture. The infrastructure is very basic, partly from the communism era and people are very nature bound and open-hearted.
When arriving at the festival that is organised by a British crew, you’ll find yourself on a very basic market place in a tiny village. Basically once a year this festival takes over or even brings new infrastructure to this place and turns everything upside down.
The festival crew and press are accommodated at the locals’ houses, which creates a great connection between the local culture, people and the festival guest. The locals are so welcoming and hospitable! It seems like they are very happy about the fact this festival is waking up their little village once a year and brings some confetti to their everyday life. Our warmhearted host Vera welcomed us with open arms and told us, that smaller festivities with local musicians and bands take place here every now and then. Music obviously plays a big role in the Bulgarian culture. By walking through the village you’ll recognise that some of the spots are there because of the festival. The Pink House for example is the place to be at the village. They even serve British breakfast, avocado toast and pasta in the evening.
Up to the actual festival site it’s another 5-10 minutes drive with the shuttle. Once you arrived there, you’ll immediately will be soaked in by the hippie character of the site and the people attending the festival. There’s not a single person that is not wearing a costume or at least a fancy hat or organic glitter on their face. That’s the moment when you’ll get an idea of the decentralised reality you’ll be stepping in for the next days. Wooden art installations and countless other small DIY-decoration are created with a lot of attention to detail.
Yoga, workshops and a market with food stalls, self-made jewellery and vintage clothing are framing the festival experience. Smoothies, pizza, mac and cheese, burgers, curries, local food and even cocktails and food as herbal medicine are offered there.
Sustainability is a huge topic at the festival. It’s not only bla bla, as many festivals do, but a mindset that is lived. You won’t find any single use plastic cutlery or cups at the festival. As soon as you register at the festival office, you’ll get your enamel cup that you’ll take with you on your belt for the next days. Also there are no regular waste bins, but compost pile like spots where you can litter your leftovers and other waste. The toilettes are a hundred percent ecological, e.g. you ‘flush’ with chipped wood.
A look at the line-up reveals that it does not adhere to the usual festival norm with big headliners. Rather, the focus here is on young talents from Great Britain. The genres reach from local Bulgarian folk bands to Fabric London residents. The sound system however is straight forward. There is an almost oversized Funktion One sound system on all stages.
As soon as the night puts it’s shades on the hills, beautiful light installations create a magical atmosphere on the festival site. It’s almost like strolling through a fairytale that creates a parallel universe over four days.
The festival peaks every day at around 6 o’clock in the morning, when the majority of the visitors gather at the sunrise stage, watching the sun rise behind the mountain. At the same time a mystical fog lies over the valley – a stunning view that is coining this festival experience.
Next year, the festival will celebrate its tenth anniversary. The chances are more than good that the intimate and charming character will remain in the coming years.