Southern Soul Festival took place from the 25th to 28th of June in 2015, in the town of Ulcinj in Montenegro. Ulcinj is a small, but very ancient town, located in the most-southern spot of Montenegro on Adriatic coast. The main features are strong Albanian community, bilingual society (the most of the inhabitants speak both Serbian and Albanian), beautiful and long seashore, rich history and emerging boutique music festival.
Ulcinj was an ancient seaport. The town is founded in the 5th century BC by colonists from Colchis, as mentioned in the 3rd century BC poem by Apollonius of Rhodes. Illyrians lived in the region at the time as there are traces of immense Cyclopean walls still visible in the old citadel (Kalaja). In 163 BC, the Romans captured Colchinium from the Illyrian tribe of Olciniates and renamed the town Olcinium (aka Ulcinium) after the tribe.
The location of the festival is really unique. One of the most peaceful and beautiful beaches of Adriatic shore, Copacabana beach stands between Ulcinj and Ada Bojana. It’s known for windy climate that is perfect for Kite surfing. So it’s no wonder that you will find Kite surfing club exactly on that place. If you desire to become a Kite-surfer you need to attend 7-days course that costs 250 euros. If you are already experienced in this sport you can just rent equipment in the club.
Southern Soul Festival is a boutique festival. It has around 2000 attendances and three stages. The program starts from afternoon and finishes in the early morning. Bar stage is reserved for DJs and producers from all around the world, while the Main stage offers live gigs. It’s still noncommercial festival supporting underground sounds. The atmosphere is very easy-going. Program is oriented towards soul, jazz, funky and house. Everything is happening on the beach and you can enjoy some real summer vibes there.
Hot sand, beautiful seashore, nice music and cocktails what else can you desire?!
Our special mention goes to gigs of Detroit Swindle, Alex Nut and Romare. We danced our asses off. Also, we listen to some really cool concerts such as: Matthew Halsall quintet, Fatima and the Eglo and Jarrod Lawson who performed for the closure. We recommend you start from the afternoon and continue until night program. Copacabana beach is especially beautiful during the day.
Tourist season in Montenegro starts from July, so it’s not so crowded neither expensive. Tickets for the festival are affordable, ranging from 40 to 60 euros for the entire program. The water temperature is perfect in June. So don’t hesitate to swim and relax on the baldachines. It’s not so warm at night, so bring a sweater and jeans just in case.
This was the third edition of Southern Soul Festival. Each year festival will probably get bigger and better. We hope festival will stay affordable and noncommercial when it comes to music selection. In the “deep sea” of music festivals in the Balkans it needs to have its own identity and very special vibe to sustain. There were a few failures in organisation; such as food corner, problems with transport; after all time is a very relative concept in Montenegro. Residents are rarely in the rush and the taxi drivers will try to rip you off. Don’t pay more than 15 euros from Ulcinj to the festival for one direction ride.
But, regardless of that our overall impressions are very positive. We had a nice time and we definitely recommend this venue!
Where to stay:
– Ada Bojana
*prices range from 5 to 10 euros per night/per person in apartments or pile dwellings at Ada Bojana
What to see:
– Ulcinj old town
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.