Meadows In the Mountains Review \\ Home from home in Bulgaria
“The hills are alive with the sound of music,” a wise Maria sung to us. Swap hills for mountains, Austria for Bulgaria, nuns for hippies and musical theatre for techno and electronica and you have entered the world of Meadows in the Mountains. Size and beauty are in the magic of this (relatively secret) festival. Here are some of Jazz Standard‘s favourite elements of MITM, nestled in the remote Bulgarian countryside.
Meadows in the Mountains presented a line-up you may not instantly recognise. Their programming wasn’t aloof, but surprising and open-minded. Dotted amongst electronica and EDM artists such as Montreal’s Valentin Stip, there was satisfying variety in the line-up. Saturday featured Afro-beat jazz sounds from Manchester based band Agbeka. Sunday presented memorable jazz-soul sets from Hannah Heartshape and Summer Pearl (Love is Law Collective).
Babayaga’s House: storytelling and feeding the inner child
Venture into the Temple towards Babayaga’s House and you will come upon a magnificent tree house constructed from wild imagination. You can only explore in wonder at the wooden structures and plastered moulds that intrigue the mind. Home to storytelling and magic voices, Babayaga’s House was the venue for Baba’s Backyard Theatre and their immersive, twisted tales.
Food: Secret Vegan stalls and a local tavern
Festivals have their secret activities, stages and areas, but you wouldn’t assume it would have hidden food. Winifred Rose, vegan food stall, exists behind the curtain amongst stalls of jewellery, glitter and body paint. Pay 10 Lev (around £4) and experience a generous helping of delicious vegan food to satisfy all cravings and crunches.
If you stayed in the village you could also check out the quaint Maria’s Tavern. At the top of a steep hill we’d be met by Mediterranean-esque decor and a kooky waiter. Maria’s Tavern was nothing short of characterful.
Sunrise at the sunrise stage: The Sublime
The sublime is something few get to experience. However, to watch sunrise from the MITM festival peaks is an experienced that shouldn’t just be saved for the Romantics. Loyal MITM goers know this to be a highlight of the festival. The sunrise in all its Balkan glory can be watched by the sunrise stage, which overlooks the mountains. As it rose, people danced to welcome the daylight in a communal, spiritual space.
There are those spaces that feel so far removed from normal life that you immediately resolve to live there FOREVER. The onion, a viewing platform covered by wood and paper in an onion shape was this such place. Gazing into the hills folding one after the other, it was the epitome of peacefulness. People came to look, nap, play cards, share smokes. A communal place to socialise and be still; this was a favourite place for many visitors.
Finding your spiritual outlet: Yoga Classes and Arajam
MITM is a place of spiritual awakening. With workshops and yoga classes focusing on the chakras, it’s a step away from the music stages and and one towards the inner centre. With varied themed soundtracks, taking a class of yoga or meditation under the Hara tent is a beautiful way to spend some downtime.
If your spirit feels more inclined to music making, an Arajam (a small box space with drums), omnicords and glitter facilitated free jam sessions throughout the day and night. Mantra-like repetition amongst strangers made for mesmerising moments.
Local experience: Staying with a local host
You would think a festival in the mountains can only mean camping, but MITM offers village accommodation with a host family, with many of them happy to share their home cooking with you. The villagers we spoke to promoted a positive attitude about the festival, so no need to hold yourself back at MITM. You can make yourself right at home.
JS | Nina Fine