Off to a somewhat rocky start, things are back on track at Obonjan, a 136-acre deserted Croatian island, that as been repurposed solely to function as a festival destination. Lying uninhabited until 1972, when it was taken over by the local scout organisation, the atoll has spent the last 20 years abandoned, with only a solitary caretaker and his dog managing its upkeep.
For six weeks from 28 July until 6 September a program of live music, wellness, talks and installations from resident urban artists are on offer to those who trip across the crystalline Adriatic from Šibenik on the mainland, while food is a locally sourced and mostly an organic, health-conscious affair.
A musical line-up featuring Gilles Petersen, Four Tet, Local Natives and Jessy Lanza will play in the pine forest or stone amphitheatre and talks on life-enhancing subjects such as sustainable design, effective altruism and living a native life in London will take place inside of a custom-built geodome by the company behind the Eden Project in the UK.
The island’s resident astronomers Uroš Mikšaj and Dora Premor are joined by the Greenwich Royal Observatory's Tom Kerss, an expert on planetary transits and astrophotography, to make the most of the island’s starry night skies, while excursions by boat can also be organised.
Hidden amongst the olive and pine branches are a number of exclusive lodgings decked out with bespoke furnishings such as geometric rugs handwoven in Jaipur, handwoven macrame hanging planters by Helen Robinson and Japanese raku glaze ceramics by Bali-based ceramicist Alexis Stephenson, as well as luxe linens on beds. A maximum of 800 festival goers can choose between bell tents with sea views or Scandi-influenced pine lodges, designed by Croatian architect Una Barac of Scott Brownrigg.
A lease of 45 years has been secured by leading UK multi-media promotion company and festival organiser Otok Ltd, national tourist operator CMT, and Croatian operating company Gratiosus.