Pohoda Festival 2014 – my first experience at Bazant Pohoda Festival
Those who know me, know very well I am not a party person, I quit drinking alcohol in 2009, never smoked, never took any drugs … and do not dance. Those who do not know me that well, now got shocked, I guess. I can only imagine how thinking of a ”crazy sexy fun”’ must have evoked a stereotype idea in your head before getting to really know me.
However, no matter to which group of people you belong, I have to tell you it’s not a biggest secret any more that I dislike crowds. I am still more of an introvert than an extrovert (100% serious!) and being part of a overcrowded place just makes me nervous.
Festivals = crowds.
Festivals = more people than I can usually handle.
Festivals = noise.
Festivals = drunk people.
Festivals = smoking all around.
No wonder I’ve been avoiding festivals for some time. But spending the summer of 2014 in Slovakia, my home country, means there’s a festival every weekend somewhere. Not attending any festival while in Slovakia would be not just a mistake, but also almost impossible.
So when I had to choose a Slovak festival to attend without saying no to festivals for the rest of my life, for my biggest surprise it was easier than I thought.
Bazant Pohoda Festival.
The biggest open-air festival in Slovakia.
Each time I talked to someone, they all said Bazant Pohoda Festival is different. Pohoda is the best. You will like Pohoda even if you don’t like this kind of events.
I could only trust them and go for it.
It was my first time to Bazant Pohoda Festival ever. And now I can only say I hope it was NOT the last time either.
I attended Pohoda as part of a press which definitely made my experience a lot different to the ”normal” attendees. I admit it. But on the other hand it maybe also made it more stressful as in a way I had to pay attention to all the details, take photos, do some interviews and pretend to be a professional.
But I am not a music expert. I listen to the radio when I travel … and to my meditation and inspirational songs. I might not know enough about all the singers and bands who played at Bazant Pohoda Festival. I know that. You don’t have to remind me I don’t know all the single thing that happened in the life of all the groups at Pohoda, nor the names of all the albums, nor the lyrics of all the songs.
When it comes to music, I am a complete beginner. A music lover who enjoys a nice song, conscious lyrics and a singer/band with a big heart and a lovable character.
So before you judge that I could not remember the biography of all the bands, realize that I am a travel writer. Not a music one. A TRAVEL writer.
Plus, a few days before Pohoda Festival I sprained my ankle and I had to run around 10 km every single day with it from one meeting to another in Bratislava. I easily had 8 or 9 meetings per day the days I went to Pohoda. I also slept for no more than 4 hours per night for a week.
Simply put, all I needed was to relax, put my left swollen foot up and sleep.
But I had to attend Pohoda.
Let me just tell you, it was not easy. The sprained ankle was killing me, it was hot, I was exhausted, with no energy to be sociable, and even less energy to deal with the unfortunately common Slovak negativity when the people just don’t know anything and they still feel they know it all (it’s still one of the 5 things I dislike about Slovakia.)
Anyway, I set myself a goal. To enjoy the most of the Bazant Pohoda Festival 2014. To make the most of the situation, no matter how bad days I was having.
And thankfully, when people said Pohoda Festival is different, they were right.
I cannot really compare to other festivals, nor to the previous Pohoda festivals, but I can only give you my opinion after all the traveling, events I went to and organization I saw.
Here’s the list of the things I really liked at Bazant Pohoda Festival 2014:
- The first few minutes when I was overwhelmed by the crowds disappeared very quickly as the Trencin airport where the festival takes place is big enough to disappear and even have a chat with your best friend in silence, if that’s what you want.
- food courts – there were way more than I thought, and more options than usual, even a lot of meals for vegetarians and even some for vegans, too. That was probably my biggest concern as traveling as a raw vegan is usually NOT fun and knowing the festivals in Slovakia I was scared they were only going to sell langose, sausages, pizza, gofry and other unhealthy meals. Thankfully, I was wrong. You could get fresh fruit and veggies, my favorite Acai drink (more than necessary to get the energy back every morning!), hummus and veggie wraps, bio vegetable and fruit juices from Pijo Bio etc … Big thumbs up for that!
- everything was pretty much on time, all the concerts and other events and I know how difficult it is to handle that.
- flushing toilets, very clean, with toilet paper and even smelling nice! Not just smelling portable ToiToi cabins, what a relief! Plus, there were stickers with the funniest comments ever on the toilet doors. I had a laugh each time I went there 🙂
- potable water in some places, sinks and showers – very useful for most of the attendees as they mostly sleep in tents in the area of the festival so they need all of these amenities.
- many stalls with different things to do – in case you didn’t like the bands that were on the stage, or you just wanted to take a break, it was more than easy to find something else to do. We walked it all around, took free photos of us, got a free massage, tasted free meals, got to a Hawaii pool … There were also a few adrenaline activities to try, but with a sprained ankle I personally could not take part in them. What a shame!
- free wifi stations – thank you Orange! It worked fine to check out the emails and update the Facebook status.
- all the attendees got a free map of the festival area with the whole schedule
- the stages and all the acoustic was really handled well as you could hear it all perfectly in front of one stage but the sound from more stages was not mixed at all when you were at a different stage. You could enjoy properly the band that was playing at the stage you wanted and not to hear the side music from the other stages.
- the little event when Marian Gaborik showed the Stanley Cup on the main stage and then on a firefighter car took a stroll among the audience was awesome. I know it had nothing to do with a music festival but ice hockey has loads of fans in Slovakia and many people enjoyed seeing Gaborik at Pohoda Festival. I loved it even more after attending his press conference a few hours earlier at his stadium in Trencin when he winked at me. Oh, my second of glory 🙂
- to navigate in such a big space was easier than I thought and after the first 2 hours I didn’t need the map at all to know where to go.
- I have not seen many wasted people, thank God! I don’t know if they all were very close to the stage or just when they couldn’t stand any more they went back to their tents or what, but I was very grateful for that. So thankful for seeing that many people could just enjoy the festival sober or with very little alcohol! My biggest thumb up for not selling shots at Pohoda Festival (you can only buy beer and wine.)
- many things to do for families with kids
Things to work on …
Of course, there were also a few things that could be better. But nothing is ever perfect and handling 30,000 people at a festival is a LOT of work. I would probably add even more toilets and spread them more around so you didn’t have to walk for 15 minutes and then wait in the Q for another few minutes.
Orange did maybe a good job with the wifi spots, but the mobile phone coverage was not always the best. A few times people could not reach me, I had no signal and didn’t even get any message after someone tried to call me. Trying to organize press interviews or even personal meetings was a bit of a pain because of that and seemed unprofessional. I also received a few text messages a couple of hours they were sent to me. 30,000 people in one place is difficult, I get it but I am sure you can make it work better.
I also think there should be more charging stations as the longest line for the entire festival was always at the place where people could recharge their phones/tablets/notebooks.
I know I did not get the full Pohoda festival experience not only because of my personal things I mentioned above, but also because I was not staying overnight camping in tents in the area but always went back to Trencin town and stayed at my best friend’s apartment. Plus, as part of press I could see more of the behind the scenes, meet up with some bands or even take photos and do interviews with them.
I interviewed the extremely sweet young singer Sima Martausova, who is so modest and so down to earth it gave me a lot of positive energy. Sima’s concert was my favorite concert of the whole festival just because I can relate to her songs like no one else …
Then I also enjoyed parts of the concerts of Jana Kirschner, Walter Schnitzelsson, Travis, Tricky, Korben Dallas, Para, Kellis… Wish I was more of Manu Delago concert as well as it was better than I expected. And the press conference with Tricky was the biggest fun! Although he surprised all of us when he came to the conference smoking, the answers to our questions were pretty cool. Just wish he sang more then at the concert itself.
I also took videos from my interviews with other bands:
The English interview with the most lovable Travis, a band from Glasgow:
The Slovak interview with Jana Kirschner who announced her second pregnancy at Pohoda Festival 2014 – slovenský rozhovor s Janou Kirschner, ktorá na Pohode 2014 oznámila svoje druhé tehotenstvo:
The Slovak interview with the very cute and funny guys from Walter Schnitzelsson – slovenský rozhovor s veľmi milými a vtipnými chalanmi z Walter Schnitzelsson:
I really hope to visit Pohoda Festival again. For more information, please check out Pohoda Festival website 🙂