Guide to Electric Castle Festival in Cluj-Napoca [2023 update]

One of the coolest events in Eastern Europe:

Guide to Electric Castle Festival in Cluj-Napoca [2023 update]

The 9th edition of Electric Castle will take place on 19-23 July 2023 in the same iconic location: Banffy Castle in the village of Bontida in Cluj county (30km away).

Headliners include Peggy Gou, George Ezra, Netsky, Tash Sultana, The Chemical Brothers, Iggy Pop, Pendulum, Sigur Rós and many others.

Tickets, official line up and practical info you'll find on their official website.

I'm a huge fan of festivals and concerts and I've been to quite a few all over Europe! Romania has lots of great music festivals but Electric Castle is by far my favorite because of the atmosphere and vibe it creates, the lineup and various stages as well as the top-notch organisation.

I've been to Electric Castle in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022 and will also go this year! I can honestly say it's a great festival experience and maybe I'll see you around? :)

Me - in blue - and my party crew

Have a look at the full day-by-day review of the 2017 edition I wrote for one of our blogger friends!

General info about Electric Castle

Electric Castle Festival (or EC in short) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania is one of the coolest electronic music festivals in Eastern Europe, now at its 9th edition.

Making good use of the superb Baroque-Reinnassance Banffy Castle domain on the outskirts of Cluj, the 4-day festival has developed a reputation for its friendly community, laid-back vibes and all day parties.

It's also a very eco-friendly festival trying to minimise waste and employs local people which boosts gives a huge boost to the local communities.

Young crowds love it for its eclectic & modern musical lineup, artistic and feel-good activities, visual effects and a laid-back setup mixed between castle ruins and green scenery. It has:

  • 10 stages with their own style: alternative, electronic, disco, minimal, reggae, D'n'B
  • a huge camping area with pre-pitched tents you can rent or bring your own
  • 3 food courts with many drink bars (beer gardens, wine bars, cocktails, specialty coffee)
  • a Lidl shop where you can buy anything you'd normally find at regular prices
  • a lot of experiences, places to hang out and chill
  • an official Electric Castle app which is has all the info you need to plan your festival experience

the organisers want to give people a non-stop and complete festival experience so you can basically stay 24/7 inside the festival.

For this reason, it offers a very different experience than UNTOLD the other major electronic music festival in Cluj-Napoca. UNTOLD takes places inside the city creating a huge party-ground in the Central Park of Cluj. It also caters to a more mainstream (commercial) audience and focuses much more on electronic music and major EDM producers & DJs.

Banfy Castle is part of the festival!

Back to EC - over time and as the festival grew in popularity, Electric Castle’s facilities and offering improved significantly. You should also know that editions up until 2017 or so ‘benefited’ from torrential rain and muddy grounds, but this never stopped festival goers from having a good time, making the event a growing success against all odds.

In recent years however there was no rain at EC and actually during the day it got quite hot because of the scorching sun (averages of 27-30 Celsius). In the evening it starts getting cooler (20-24 Celsius) while during the night you can expect 15-20 Celsius.

So get a backpack and make sure to pack it with warm clothes otherwise you may run into trouble!

Since me and lots of my friends are big EC fans and have been many times, I want to share with you some insider tips that will make your electric experience as simple and hassle-free as possible.

1. Getting to 2023 Electric Castle festival

First, you need to plan to visit Cluj-Napoca, the second largest Romanian city.

Cluj is very well connected both with major European cities through many low cost flights, but also with Bucharest. You might also want to check our guides on traveling to Romania or public transport in Romania for more info.

The festival takes place in the small village of Bontida which is 30 km away from Cluj-Napoca. You can get there with your own car or by bus and trains organised by the festival which we highly recommend because they're most convenient, cheap and fast.

If you’re looking for accommodation your best choice is to find a place in Cluj (lots of AirBnBs available; also try The locals in Bontida offer their rooms (or backyards for campers) but they’re usually booked waaay in advance by regular EC-goers and locals with connections - so not really an option for foreign tourists.

  • Busses to Electric Castle

Festival organisers set up buses that leave during the festival days 24/7 when filled up. They leave from two locations in Cluj-Napoca:

  1. the parking lot of Cluj Arena, near the Central Park
  2. from Iulius Mall

There are ticket booths near the bus stations and a one way trip costs 10 Lei. What I usually do is buy several tickets at once so I have them on me, and for my friends, so we avoid staying at two queues.

On average the bus ride lasts 45 minutes but due to heavy traffic busses get stuck when leaving Cluj between 6-8pm so prepare for that.

If you're planning to leave the festival between 12-2pm when the headliners finish and most people go home, also expect some queuing. But in general things move fast. I'd rather wait a little more inside the festival then leave during 'rush hours' :)

  • Trains to Electric Castle

There are special Electric Castle trains with limited spots leaving Cluj-Napoca train station. They will take you to a train station close to Bontida and from there buses will be waiting to transfer you to the festival camp.

In 2022 there were 3-4 departures scheduled every day starting from 18:00. They were on time - no traffic dduh! - and took exactly 50 min to get to the festival. They are now my preferred choice of getting to the festival and I highly recommend them.

Tickets cost 30 Lei if I remember correctly and must be bought online and in advance because spots are limited.

Trains are one way only meaning you have to return to Cluj by bus or car.

  • Traveling by car to Electric Castle

Going by car to Bontida is the worst choice. Besides the traffic, parking is very hard, if not impossible to find. Organisers set up parking areas but they get filled up very fast since those coming with their tents also park there.

A taxi from Cluj, Uber or Bolt will cost about 100-150 Lei or 20-25 Euro (if they come pick you up!). Some drivers might ask for more, or expect a generous tip, because they don’t want to make the return trip with an empty car.

We don’t recommend renting a car - the huge traffic suffocates the small village of Bontida and makes it much more difficult to navigate. And if it rains, then things get messier.

  • Local tip: closer to the festival the EC app will send you notifications with info ref bus and train departures and traffic conditions

2. Money & payments inside the festival. Budget.

Before the festival starts - or when you arrive - you will have to register meaning to show an ID and exchange your ticket with an EC bracelet.

The bracelet will have an electronic chip that staff will quickly scan to check you in and out when accessing the festival. It will also be your electronic wallet which you can top up with real money:

  1. on the EC app
  2. on your EC account on your official website
  3. at the credit points inside the festival using your bank card (avoid because of queues)

Whenever you pay for something inside the camp you'll you will see your remaining balance. At the end of the festival any remaining balance will be refunded.

3. Food, drinks and others to buy at Electric Castle

Food wise - plenty of options, sizes and cuisines offered by the festival’s 3 food courts. You can choose from small snacks to regular meals (including traditional Romanian), pizza, sushi, burgers, asian, grilled, vegan, gourmet and many others. Lots of ice cream, deserts, smoothies and fruit bars too.

In terms of budget costs inside the festival are reasonable (1 Euro = 5 lei)

  • 6-12 lei for water, coffee soft drinks
  • 15 - 25 lei for beer and easy cocktails
  • food prices starting from 20 lei, on average 35-45 lei for mains

And because there's so much variety and always a party going on somewhere - you'll be spoiled for choices!

On average with 100 - 150 Euro for 4 days I think you can have a very good festival experience to drink and eat as much as you want.

All stages have bars around them so you don't have to go far to get a drink.

  • Local tip: avoid bars around the main stage or when headliners are about to go on, or just finished; look for off-the-beaten path bars

Other merchandise you can find inside the festival includes clothing (including rain caps!), accessories, cell phone wares and artists merch.

There’s also a massage place, barber shop, tattoo studio and other cool stuff you would expect at a festival. Free charging points for your electronics, lots of adventure activities, a volley court and many areas to chill and lounge.

4. Safety and final tips

The young, well-educated and open-minded crowds that attend Electric Castle is what makes it such a great festival. With so much positive energy, everyone just wants to have a good time, make friends and enjoy the music.

Safety is not something you should be particularly concerned about. Lots of staff and security people on site, including police officers in civilian clothing, and the usual check when getting in. Just like everywhere else - take care of your belongings, keep out of trouble and drink responsibly.

Since you can exit the festival area anytime, some people go in the village of Bontida looking for food. The locals also have their own offering, usually grilled meats or other home-cooked dishes, but last year their prices almost matched those inside EC, so you might not be achieving lots of savings.

There’s also a supermarket in the village on the way to the festival entrance (Profi) where you can buy warm-up drinks, snacks and other supplies. Nearby there are also lots of food stalls where the locals sell their products.

You should also have a look at the official festival map to familiarise yourself with the setting. If this is your first time in our country make sure to check our guide on how to visit Romania for the first time.

The 6am selfie after last year's Tinlicker set - one of the best I've ever been to

Finally, while everyone going at Electric Castle is hoping for good weather this year, we do recommend preparing for bad weather - just in case. Bring a rain cloak and a secondary pair of heavy-duty shoes, besides your usual cool sneakers, torn converse or sandals.

But rest assured: even if it rains you will still have an AMAZING time at Electric Castle because everyone does!

And maybe before or after the festival you may want to check some of the most popular things to do in Transylvania since Cluj is known as its unofficial capital.

Your Romanian Friend


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