>>>Happiness Island
Photo: Samara Morris

Happiness Island

From 28 July to 6 September, Obonjan island, Croatia, has a single mission: to make us happy.
A
n island paradise for free-spirited explorers to celebrate, relax and learn”. So, everything you would want from your holidays. In order to make this dream place a reality, the promoters of Hideout Festival have rented an island 1.5 km long and 450m wide, opposite the Croatian city of Šibenik. Obonjan is their way of fighting time. “We love our festivals but they come and go so quickly. This a chance for us to grow something with more longevity.” These are the words of Dan Blackledge, co-founder of Sound Channel and one of the brains behind this project. Here, the transient joy of festivals is extended over eight weeks, during which time, beyond music, there is space for art, sport and well-being.
On Obonjan, concerts and parties coexist with yoga classes and meditation sessions.
Photo: Paula Andreewitch

The Garden of Europe

“It is a chef’s dream to have such extraordinary produce on your doorstep.” Sam Letteri, the chef responsible for designing the menus to be offered at the five restaurants on the island confesses that he still has not got used to the abundance of fish and fresh vegetables available in Croatia.

Before becoming the island of happiness, Obonjan was the island of youth. The name is inherited from the 60s, when the Scouts would organise summer camps there. They even built an amphitheatre, the same one that serves as a stage for the biggest concerts. Following them, the island was uninhabited again, although not completely: Mirko and his dog Jimmy have been living there since 2008. From 28 July, they will have company, 800 lucky people prepared to forget routine and dedicate themselves to full-time enjoyment. They will certainly have plenty of options. There will be music day and night, at the amphitheatre, where the headliners will be playing, and at the Rum Bar, with more intimate concerts. Everything from electronic to classical music will be performed, and finding a balance between partying and disconnecting is a key concept on Obonjan. Meditation and open-air yoga sessions will help those seeking this balance, not forgetting the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms. Those wanting to go one step further will have the opportunity to receive massages and curative treatments at the wellbeing centre managed by Lily Lawson O’Neil, founder of The Well Garden, London.
There will also be an extensive workshop program for those who believe you never stop learning. With a variety of subjects including astronomy, philosophy, architecture and marine conservation, lessons will be given by experts and activists, like Jules Evans and Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney, usual faces from TEDx talks. Another special guest is art, in all its forms. A changing gallery of temporary and permanent exhibitions will be distributed throughout the island, both at the surface and underwater. The underground sculpture garden by artist Celia Gregory is one of the most eagerly awaited installations, but it will not be the only surprise waiting on Obonjan. It’s a good job we will have two months to discover them all.
The menus have been created based on local ingredients, with seafood, vegetables and spices taking centre stage.
Photo: Mike Cooper
Skradinski Buk waterfall cascades into a natural pool with crystalline waters

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