It has been a week since we returned from the Colours of Ostrava festival. I deliberately took the week to be able to look at the Moravian-Silesian experience from a distance and to be able to give a review without being affected by the fresh memories. How was the Colours of Ostrava experience when looking back at the hot days?
So first things first:
As we experienced it
We got up quite early (given it was so hot – 34C/93F – everybody did) and decided to spend the whole day on the festival premises. Partly, because this was our last day (yes, sadly) and partly because the days before we did not manage to explore everything in this lovely industrial area.
Luckily, the campsite was serving coffee so we did not have to rush anywhere to get the morning energy booster. To my surprise, there have been a lot of people sipping a beer already (before noon). Yes, this is the Czech republic – country with the highest beer consumption per capita. So now you know how the Czechs make the top place – they drink…a lot.
The festival area is closing down every day and reopening at 11, so we knew that we have nowhere to rush. When we got into the festival, our first steps led us to the Blue zone (Erste Bank in the Czech republic known as Česká spořitelna), where we were sadly denied entrance because we are not clients of the bank. So we started slow walking past the main road and ended up having a cocktail in Jack Daniels zone. This has been probably the most popular entertainment zone and added up to the Colours of Ostrava experience. I finished writing my post summarizing Day 2 and sadly did not manage to share it anywhere as my phone just died.
So we ended up having another quest – trying to find a place to charge it. It took a bit of time to get a slot in the mobile charging facility of mobil.cz, but we managed. At that time, I did not know that the heat of the day is going to drain my phone like crazy and already in 6 hours, I would be without power again. Guess, that’s life…
Our first concert of the day was Vasilův Rubáš, a duo from Prague playing as they call it alco-punk-reggae-folk-acoustic-crossover. When I lived in Prague, I used to come to their concerts in Balbínka as one of the band players is a husband of my uni classmate so we used the opportunity as a chance to meet up.
Despite the heat, the concert attracted quite some crowd and the signing and merchandise selling session after the gig has been quite exhaustive too. My friend did not have the energy to talk to me (all this boobs signing can drain you faster than you think). Never mind.
It has been quite nice to see that the band is evolving and that it is growing its audience. The music is still funny and entertaining as well as both of them during the pauses between the songs. Ideal for a lazy afternoon at a music festival to get you started! It has been incredibly hard to sustain the heat and so it must have been for both the artists. Well done, guys!
We returned to the camp to get a bit refreshed and to check on the tent as the whole festival was preparing for a huge thunderstorm (that luckily did not come). On our way back, we met a Polish guy, who handed us this flyer to promote his band Emotionap:
I am actually listening to their music while writing the post and it is not bad! I can totally imagine it being played in a Chillax zone! Check out for yourself:
As my cousin was supposed to be at the festival, we took the chance to try finding her in this huge anthill, as the festival area got quite crowded. We also drank some green tea, which boosted us for the late night concerts. For some reason, teahouses are extremely popular in the Czech republic. Maybe because of the water pipes that are being served there. We also hanged around the Camel beach, put my phone to charge again (for 15 minutes as they were closing at 22:00 – but why!!) and got ready for the Rudimental gig.
Which I must say has been really nice and refreshing! I was surprised that there are so many people in the band! I also found out that they will be playing at Sziget on Sunday 16.8.2015 at 17:45 on the main stage (because of the canceled Kingdom of Hegyalja festival), so I will get a chance to see them again. Yaay! Actually, like many other bands that I saw on Colours of Ostrava (double yay for Kasabian!).
After, we had some more friends to meet up, so as my phone was again drained out of battery, we picked a place and wrote to everybody clear-cut instruction on how to find us. As it has been an exhausting day, we lay down and rested close to the main stage. Luckily, our instructions were good and we managed to meet a friend who lives in the UK.
We also enjoyed the last gig of the day on the main stage, Clean Bandit. I thought that they have more popular songs, but I knew only the last one they were playing (guess which one), but the people seemed to have a big fun during the concert. I think it was a good continuation of the Rudimental concert. Well done!
Was a departure day for us, as we had to get back to Budapest. However, since I live in Hungary, I am missing out on one band – Sto zvířat, which I normally would have seen at least 5x during the year. Now, every occasion to see them is sacred so we worked out the packing and travel plan around seeing their gig that was starting at 15:15.
As my phone was dead, we had no clue where the car was and we could not use the navigation to locate it. So we followed the instinct and we found it without any problems or wandering around the streets. I felt immensely proud!
Then we moved over to the festival campsite (thanks to security, we could leave our stuff by the entrance and did not have to carry it while searching for the car – one heart attacked saved!), loaded the car, tanked incredibly cheap diesel (337 HUF, 29.5 CZK, 1.09 EUR, 1.2 USD/l) and after several rounds around the shopping mall, managed to park the car in the underground garage. To my surprise, it has been entirely free for the whole duration of the festival. Pity that nobody advertised this beforehand, because it would have saved us quite some time (and maybe we would have seen a bit more of Björk on Friday).
After eating in my favorite Bageterie Boulevard (I really want them to enter the Hungarian market as this is the only fast food I truly miss!), we returned to the festival and came just in time for the Sto zvířat gig. The heat was unbearable and the sun was killing it, so we went to get some water (for free, from the tap, delicious!) and ran into my friend Oslík, whom I did not see for quite some time as he also lives in the UK. After, it was time to return out cups and head to the car to set of on the hot trip back to Budapest.
Review of Colours of Ostrava experience
I was particularly interested in the feedback and reviews that would get posted after the Colours of Ostrava festival and they were overly positive with very little negatives. I would try to come up with a constructive criticism and ideas on how to improve some loopholes. So the Colours of Ostrava experience as I saw it:
- LOCATION – this is the deal breaker for many festivals – thanks to the industrial area it is located in, it presents a breath taking scenery and something truly unique. Excellent choice that also has still capacities for further festival growth;
- CLEAN FESTIVAL AREA – festival received Clean festival award and it was being tidied up throughout the day too. I appreciated the recycling bin – yes, Czechs love recycling! Oh and not to forget, the ToiToi toilets were always immaculate! Nice surprise;
- NICK NACK BEER CUPS – recyclable and much more pleasant to drink beer from than from soft plastic cups. Also, can serve as a nice souvenir (if you happen to be lucky to get the special festival one – we did not);
- AFFORDABLE BEER WITH HUGE CHOICE – Consider yourself – 240 beer taps and a total of 21 different kinds of beers. Little side note: I would appreciate a beer map to know where to go to get some of the special ones. The beer price was correlating between 32 – 45 CZK (1.2 – 1.7 EUR), unbelievable, right?
- PEOPLE! All the people that we interacted with were incredibly nice and watching out for each other. There were also a lot of foreigners (Ostrava is close to Poland and Slovakia, but there were other nationalities represented too). It does not happen very often that a girl leaving a ToiToi is holding a door for you to enter. This probably has to do something with:
- FESTIVAL TARGETTING – I consider this to be one of the biggest advantages of the Colours of Ostrava experience – there were a lot of people of all ages, including in the campsite! I did not see a single punker. I guess the music style is discouraging. On the contrary, I felt that many people 30+ were coming too – probably those that used to go to Rock For People festival when they were in their 20’s, now they take their girlfriends, fiancées, wives and/or lovers to Colours of Ostrava. Strategic move. Also a lot of people from the city and nearby surrounding were coming daily! I saw some construction workers building house nearby that had a 4-day festival pass on their hand. Ostrava is according to the locals a bit dead city, for sure it got colored up during Colours;
- CAMPSITE FACILITIES (camp by the festival area) – equipped with showers, drinking water for free, beer tent, shop, but also a microwave corner with several kettles. If only the charging area would be better managed;
- we got our FESTIVAL BRACELET already in the camp. That saved us some queuing, nice coincidence. It would be good to spread the info about it already before the festival, so people do not waste time. Something like recommended routes if you have a voucher, real ticket or nothing at all;
- VEČERNÍČEK (fairy tale for the littluns played before the News at 7pm every day on Czech TV) little fairy tale after every concert was a great idea – it slowed down the masses from moving all at the same time.
- DRINKING WATER for free! Not much to add – I really loved the opportunities to get refreshed by nicely tapped water by the employees of Ostrava Water Pipes and Canalization – their website indicates that a total of 15,811 liters of water was drunk at the festival! Hats off!
- TICKET MAFIA – the presale was ending on Monday 13th July 2015 at noon and after that an incredible ticket reselling mafia has taken over the official Facebook event, where tickets were resold for double or triple price (especially the parking ones). Maybe posting from time to time in the group that there will be tickets available on the spot would help decrease the hysteria;
- TICKETING – would it not be possible to decrease the amount of tickets a person needs to enjoy the festival? Count with me: for 2 people coming by car you need – 2x entrance ticket, 2x ticket for camping for person, 1x ticket for tent, 1x ticket for car park = total of 6 tickets for 2 people. I believe that the car parking could not have been sold out, as anytime we were walking past, it was rather empty – maybe the organizers wanted to cash out more on the spot (1,000 CZK vs 500 CZK in presale), but I doubt this strategy paid off. Instead, the streets were flooded by cars (poor locals). Even for 500 CZK, it is expensive (not to speak about 1,000 CZK). Given the nearby shopping mall Nova Karolina has been offering parking space for the festival weekend in underground garage for free (as I wrote earlier, we found out too late – maybe next time, give it a better advertising)! It is for the benefit of everybody;
- DAILY TICKETS – I understand it is necessary to have this offer for locals, but I would not buy a daily ticket for such a big price (1,600 CZK = 60 EUR). I compared the daily ticket prices with Sziget (55 EUR) and it is cheaper to go to Sziget for a day than to go to Colours of Ostrava! I also think that some presale tickets were sold at the price of the daily ticket sold on the spot. Strange calculation. I think the whole pricing of the festival needs to be revisited;
- SLAG STONES – I love the festival setting (as already mentioned in the pluses) – one thing that could be improved about the festival area is the removal of the slag stones that are sometimes even 10 cm big! It came to my mind already on the first day when I entered the festival when I slipped on a couple of them, but luckily had good shoes. By the end of the festival, I saw many people with scratches and bandages on their knees and fore arms. Guess, they were not so fortunate. Also, it came to my mind that these stones could be nicely thrown, if I would dislike the music playing on the stage. Luckily or because the people are such sweeties, this did not get executed. But where there is alcohol and huge crowds, many ideas may pop up. As the area is not used for any mining activity anymore, remove the slag stones! Protect the festival visitors and artists too. I think people would even come to volunteer or you can give temporary jobs to the locals;
- CHARGING – Long gone are the times of eternal Nokia phones. People are addicted to their phones, like to share (judging from the amount of pictures I saw that people were posting) and use their phone for more things than just to call. Smart phones need to be charged all the time. Especially as the festival is taking place in the middle of the city, getting enough charging places should not be a problem. Also, train the staff on how to find out if the phone is charged, then they can replace the fully charged ones for the ones in the queue;
- ENGLISH – This festival has a potential to reach out to a bigger (read international) crowd due to its proximity to Polish and Slovak border and not only those. Trying to incorporate a bit more English is a must and no worries – Czechs are also becoming fluent in English, so I believe they would not get lost. At Sziget, you barely see any Hungarian and the official festival guide (passport) is created in both English and Hungarian. This gets connected with the fact that if you are English speaking, you have to really fight for the fun and the Colours of Ostrava experience gets a bit partial. Why not to have daily one or two discussions in English? This way, you can also invite foreigners to participate in them! Hence, you can bring more interesting people to the festival.
- PRESENTER – This strange Czech tradition reaching out to the communist era when before every gig there is somebody presenting the band and having a speech after the gig too, announcing on what comes next, is something I do not understand. Why does it still exist? What is the value added of those presenters? Anyway, mostly you cannot hear them or understand them. Just cancel it, like Rock for People did. Instead, use the huge screens to post interesting facts about bands, program, storm coming, make a competition for local graphic designers to make short spots or whatever else. Do not let them be black!
- EMPTY SPACE – the festival area is huge, it is a pity that not all the corridors/walkways are offering the same level of entertainment as the other ones. Some places are more crowded, some less. I would enjoy if there would be something happening in all the places. What about erecting a white wall to have people leave messages or some photo corner? Or more food options? Nothing against kebab selling Vietnamese noodles (see photo). Or have some photo exhibition? Or create stylish seating and resting area with some design lights? Many ideas, hope it would be feasible to carry out some of them to make the Colours of Ostrava experience even fuller.
That would be it! I must say we had a really good time and if the festival would be closer to Sziget, I believe quite some people from Western Europe would consider making a combo! To close this lengthy post (again, I know), lean back and enjoy this little photo gallery.