Seven Reasons Why Electric Castle Should Be On Your European Festival Bucket List

06 August, 2018

At the end of July, I jumped on a plane and added a new festival, Electric Castle, to my European festival roster.  Electric Castle is one of Romania's biggest and most well-known festivals, welcoming 130,000 festival-goers every year to its fairytale-esque site at Bánffy Castle. Despite being incredibly popular in its home country, it's relatively unknown in the UK. After attending this year's edition and not knowing what to expect, I unexpectedly fell utterly in love with it and decided that it should be on everyone's European festival bucket list for a number of reasons...


1.) The ridiculously cheap beer.


Let's get straight to the point: everything in Romania is a heck of a lot cheaper for UK travellers, especially the alcohol!

A pint of beer on the festival site will set you back around 9 LEI, which is the equivalent at the time of writing this to £1.70. If you're feeling flash, a cocktail on-site is priced at 18 LEI (£3.46)! Most food dishes at the festival come in between 18 - 28 LEI (£3.46 - £5.38) per dish, which is a whole lot cheaper than the extortionate prices of food vans at UK festivals. As Electric Castle operates a very effiecient cash-free system, I topped up my contactless wristband with £50 at the start of the weekend expecting to have to top it up again at some point but I didn't and I came home with change left on it. It's safe to say, I drank a sufficient amount of beer too.

If you leave the festival site for the nearest city of Cluj-Napoca then you'll find food and drinks are even cheaper too! Our first lunch in the city at a restaurant consisted of a pint of beer, a gin & tonic, a bottle of coke, plus two entire pizzas and it cost me just £12. TWELVE POUNDS.

2.) The festival site is unlike anything you've ever seen.


How many times can you say you've partied through the night in a castle in the middle of Transylvania? Because I can smugly say I have now.

The festival itself is held within the grounds of Bánffy Castle in the small, picturesque village of Bonţida surrounded by rolling green hills, dense forests and sparkling lakes. As you step off the bus into the village, you'll witness locals and shop-keepers bring their business outside and setting up kiosks to accommodate the passing festival-goers. At no point did we feel as if the festival was a hinderance to the people that live in the remote little village. In fact, there was an infectious sense of excitement and community amongst everyone in the area.


The castle itself can be dated back to the 14th century and up until 1944, it was home to members of the aristocratic Bánffy family. Throughout its lifetime, the castle has undergone multiple transformations to reflect the tastes of the family, including a Renaissance style façade and later adopted the current Baroque features that you can see today. Whilst it's a small, humble castle, it's still rather remarkable and makes a truly beautiful backdrop for the festival. The castle didn't actually gain historic status until 1999 and since then it's been undergoing constant restoration. What's wonderful is that Electric Castle is a festival with sense of awareness for it's surrounding as money from each festival ticket sold actually goes towards the restoration of the property. It's so refreshing to see a festival that is conscious of and respects the environment it inhabits that feeling is reflected amongst the festival-goers too.


3.) The festival production is out of this world.


To me, a festival is about so much more than just the music. Festivals should be an experience unlike no other and festivals should be an escape from the mundane. The attention to detail across the Electric Castle site really does transport you from you everyday life into a new world for a few days. Wandering around the site you may chance across a man-made beach inside the woods, open DJ-ing lessons inside the castle or a hidden cider bar adorned with fairy lights and floating apples.

The main stage set up is unlike anything I've witnessed at other festivals. Either side of the stage are six LED panel screens that immerse the audience entirely. Throughout the festival, these screens not only showed live footage of the artists on stage for those that can't see but also boasted motion graphics and light shows that complimented the artists' performances. It's easy to feel lost when you're drowning in the crowd at the main stage but the wall of screens utterly enveloped the crowd from all front angles.

Oh, and did I mention they have a full-size, pop-up Lidl supermarket on-site. Revolutionary!



4.) The festival is just 45 minutes from Cluj-Napoca, Translyvania's unofficial capital city.


During our time at the festival, we stayed in an apartment in the city of Cluj-Napoca, which is the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region and the second biggest city in Romania (after Bucharest). The festival itself was a 45 minute bus journey through the countryside everyday and whilst we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the festival site, it was incredible to be able to explore the city in between too. Despite being a 24-hour festival, the main acts at EC don't tend to kick off until late, which meant we'd spend our mornings lying in, our afternoons wandering the city and we'd arrive on the site around 6pm to spend the evening running from stage-to-stage until the early hours of the next morning. Admittedly, it was exhausting but it's absolutely worth dedicating some time to exploring the city too.

The effervescent city is inhabited by students and creatives, which is catered to by the hidden bohemian bars, a lively nightlife and cafe culture. The city's architecture is an assortment of Gothic to Renaissance to Eclectic styles, including overwhelming churches and colourful, monumental buildings. In between your time at the festival, it's worth taking to the streets and wandering around the picturesque city. A couple of notable landmarks to have on your itinerary are Cetatuia Hill for an incredible view over the city and St. Michael's church, which is the second largest church in Transylvania.



5.) It's the cleanest festival I've ever been to.



UK festivals are notoriously bad for the aftermath of rubbish that festival-goers leave behind and you often find yourself wading through abandoned plastic cups, leftover food and paper plates during the weekend. Electric Castle is big on highlighting unnecessary waste and the importance of recycling. Throughout our entire time there, I hardly saw any litter on the ground and clearly labelled bins for both general and recyclable waste are everywhere meaning there's no excuse to dump your trash on the ground. It was so refreshing to witness a festival taking waste seriously and encouraging its festival family to look after the historical site that it calls home every year.

6.) The multi-genre lineup has something that suits everyone.


Electric Castle hosts acts that don't tend to visit Romania that often and in turn it boasts an incredibly diverse lineup to cater to all festival-goers. Whilst dance music is at the heart of the festival with 24 hour stages hosting non-stop DJs, the main stage tends to bring in more international acts and during our time we witnessed everyone from Mura Masa to Dub Pistols and Jessie J headlining the final night and drawing in the biggest crowd of the weekend. The secondary stage, The Hangar, hosted familiar names, including Idles, Cancer Bats, The Horrors and Off Bloom but the real charm of the festival was the ability to discover new international bands that I hadn't heard of previously. Russian rave band, Little Big, and Romanian hiphop/folk (not two genres that you'd usually see together) collective, Subcarpați, were two of my favourite discoveries from the trip.

7.) The atmosphere.


Electric Castle thrives on delivering a positive, relaxed atmosphere as well as the music and the energy is contagious amongst its community as everyone is just, well, having a really great time. Unlike a lot of festivals I've been to previously, there were no signs of trouble and no one seemed overly intoxicated. The festival-goers were are a mixture of young and old and even welcomes families with kids to partake in the fun. Electric Castle possesses a unique charm and character thanks to its majestic setting, friendly community and enchanting vibe.

The only negative I took away from the entire festival is the fact that there is a serious lack of vegan food options. I managed to seek out a couple of dishes that were vegan-friendly but none of the menus were clearly marked, which meant a lot of walking around and asking the food vendors which ingredients were used in their dishes. I'm assuming this is probably because there isn't so much of a demand for vegan food in Romania and I'm a bit spoilt for choice in living London but it's definitely something to note if you're a vegan traveller. Just make sure you fill up on food beforehand or head to the on-site Lidl supermarket for some fresh fruit and veg!


See you next year, Electric Castle?

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10 comments

  1. Oh wow, this sounds like an amazing festival - is it adults only or do they have a family area too?

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  2. How have I never heard of this? I fell in love with Romania when I visited last year and swore to come back not only for the beautiful sites but for the famous Untold festival. Electric Castle is on my list too now! Cluj is my favourtie place in Romania also, such a pretty, pretty place..x

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  3. I've never heard of this festival before, thanks for sharing! Steph x
    www.stephstyle.com

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  4. It looks amazing, what a stunning location! You think I can take a 4 year old?

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  5. I was in Romania last weekend and I saw loads of stuff about Electric Castle and it looked like such a good festival. I definitely want to try a few more European festivals x

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  6. Looks fantastic! Oddly, I've never been to Romania, but I would love to!

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  7. Oh wow this looks just amazing!! Also, I am sure some of my friends would love the fact that it is cheap beer haha x

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  8. Oh wow what an amazing location for a festival! I've not heard of Electric Castle before but definitely want to go now. Romania has been on my travel radar for a while so I should definitely combine them both.

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  9. Oh my goodness this looks absolutely magical! What a beautiful setting, it is breath taking. Kaz

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  10. Oh my gosh, this sounds absolutely incredible! I’m so jealous, I am definitely going to have to add it to the bucket list. The full sized pop up Lidl is an absolute game changer.

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