Deep within the Bulgarian countryside lies meadows in the mountains festival, a unique four-day celebration of music, nature and spiritual culture taking place every June.
The radiant energy from the thickly-forested Rhodope mountain range greets you, along with a colourful troupe of festival goers making their way there, the friendly staff and an enticing blend of ambient drum beats. There is a sense of magic, perhaps in part because, as legend has it, this mountain range was the homeland of the Greek mythological singer, poet and prophet Orpheus (the festival is situated close to the Greek border).
Meadows in the Mountains is a relatively intimate festival which has grown to just over 3000 people and carries with it a sense of kinship and extended family. Indeed, it seems like almost everyone you meet knows the brothers who set up the festival four years ago. It is generously laid out, with ample music stages, bars, food stalls, quirky shops and more. Queuing for the bar or portaloo rarely takes more than a few minutes, and the atmosphere is bright, buzzing and vibrantly techni-coloured. There is a feeling of being at ease in this place, creating a holding space for escapism as well as deep connection with others and the environment.
There is much music on offer across the five stages, although drawing in big acts is not a priority for the organizers, who prefer to focus on the overall experience. Musical highlights include a ‘Little Gay Brother’ take-over of the main stage; plenty of dancing and glamour with music from Oli Keens and Wax Wings and; a beautiful acoustic set from singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou. Regular performer Gus Harvey also gave an exclusive performance of tracks from her forthcoming album.
The well-being area right at the centre of the festival is equally abundant in its offerings. The schedule is diverse, including several yoga classes per day in various styles along with workshops on inspirational themes of all kinds such as plant-based medicine, tarot, and Ayurveda. Evenings’ provide the opportunity to explore soulful celebrations, with chanting, a cacao ceremony and a selection of talented musicians. Lovers of all things well-being could very happily spend the entire four days in this area alone, floating from workshop to Kundalini to sacred sound ceremony.
A central aspect of the festival’s ethos is that of the local community, infusing the festival with a unique Bulgarian flavour. The well-being area hosted a Bulgarian masseuse and even a choir among the lineup. They are also seeking to develop connections between consciously-attuned people, and the intention is to build a community of the spiritually-minded that can come together on a yearly basis.
Also fundamental to their ethos is the wildlife and fauna that covers the festival site. Care is taken to keep waste to a minimum. For example, it is required that festival-goers keep their own mug for drinks throughout the duration of the festival. Plans are in motion to start a community in the village which will sustain itself by growing its own food sources and harnessing eco-technologies.
One thing’s for sure, the strength of the founders' ethos will ensure that as Meadows in the Mountains deservedly becomes more popular, the ethics and positive spirit of the festival will not be lost.