Wow, what a time.
When I first caught wind of Untold Festival, I was a bit suspicious. It seemed a little too perfect, you know? 160 euros for a 4-day festival with a line up featuring massive headliners like David Guetta, Steve Aoki, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Tyga, just to name a few? Especially while the pandemic still raged on in parts of the world, I was prepared for something along the lines of Fyre Festival. All these DJs are going to hop on a Zoom call and play their sets from home or something. Seriously, I fully expected them to just put a laptop on Main Stage and that was that.
Nope. Untold turned out to be one of the most incredible festivals I’ve ever been to in my life, if not the best. Everything about this festival worked out to absolute perfection, and I cannot say enough good things about the experience. If you’re wondering whether or not you should go to Untold, the short answer is f*** yeah. That’s really all you need to know, but read on if you want more details.
UNTOLD Festival: The Set Up
Untold Festival takes place in Cluj-Napoca’s Central Park Simion Bărnuțiu. It is within walking distance of pretty much anywhere in the city, meaning you don’t have to go too far to go to and from the festival. There was no camping at Untold, so you will have to find accommodation in the city. If you’re staying further away from the festival area or just don’t feel like walking, there are hundreds of taxis and Ubers in Cluj.
The park is big enough to host several stages, big art installments, activities for all ages, and hundreds of stands and stalls for food, drinks, top up points, and bathrooms. Yet, it was small enough that you could walk the entire length of the festival in less than ten minutes. Main stage was inside a big stadium, while Galaxy Stage was inside a smaller stadium just a minute’s walk away. I really can’t imagine a more perfect set-up than the one Untold has.
The Line-Ups and Stages
There were six official stages at Untold, but there were definitely no less than ten actual stages. The Main Stage was where the biggest names would play, with DJs like David Guetta, Steve Aoki, DJ Snake, and Martin Garrix putting on a show. Other non-EDM acts like Tyga and The Script also played, although it did feel a little bit out of place.
The Daydreaming Stage was where I spent an unnecessary amount of time. They would play different types of music, but it would often be psychedelic in nature. It didn’t help that there were bean bags everywhere to help you melt into a puddle if you were on acid or mushrooms.
The Galaxy Stage was where the night would typically end. Techno and drum and bass dominated the Galaxy Stage. It was the only fully indoor stage at Untold, and it was always a hot and sweaty good time. A lot of big names in techno played here, like Amelie Lens, Tale of Us, Claptone, Charlotte de Witte, and many more. Be warned, though. Galaxy has a way of sucking you in. You might literally find yourself walking out to the sun rising. The vibes here are electric, and everyone is always having a damn good time.
The Time Stage was where they played trance music. It was a great open-air stage that we silly Americans endearingly called the White House. This place went absolutely bonkers. The DJs did not hold back when it came to blasting your ear drums and flashing strobe lights. And hey, sometimes, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Alchemy Stage had a good mix of music and was right next to Galaxy Stage. It was an outdoor stage that would play anything from drum and bass to reggae to your run-of-the-mill techno and house fare. For drum and bass, though, this was my favorite stage. It gets chilly in Cluj at night, and I like to go hard when it comes to drum and bass. With Galaxy being indoors, it was often too hot to go buckwild. Alchemy let you cool off post-wob.
There was also Nostalgia Stage where they would play throwbacks. This area would be completely packed as the night started to die down. It was one of the only stages that would reliably play music that you could dance to, so a lot of the non-techno heads would naturally flock here. Before sunset, this area would be populated mostly by families and their kids.
Then there was the stage outside of Beer and Drinks where there was no DJ, but they’d play a random array of tunes. This ranged from ABBA to Papa Roach. Who knows, but you’d always find a crowd there once the main acts have up and gone. Tram Stage was kind of a pop-up stage, but occasionally, a DJ would make a surprise appearance there. Danny Avila did a quick show at Tram Stage, for example.
There was also Fortune Stage, which for the life of me, I cannot ever remember being at. I remember what it looks like, but I can’t tell you what type of music they played or who any of the acts were.
Food and Drinks at Untold Festival
The food at Untold was pretty damn good and pretty damn cheap. You know how some festivals will charge you like $10 for a hot dog and another $10 for a beer? Nah, not here. The cheapest beer was 11 RON, or about $2.50. For the most part, you could get an entire meal for less than $10. I’m talking $7 pizzas, $6 souvlaki plates, $7 burritos that came with a free tequila shot… Untold is a festival that won’t break the bank.
There were tons of bars all over the festival too. Seriously, the longest I had to wait in line might have been a minute. The prices that I remember were: 11 RON for a beer, 15 RON for a hard seltzer, and 25 RON for cocktails. Basically, you won’t be paying more than $6 per drink. The only thing that seemed disproportionate were bottles of water for 9 RON. But hey, this is Eastern Europe after all. I’ve gotten quite used to beer being as cheap, or sometimes cheaper than water.
Activities and Art Installments
I am a #influencer after all. I gotta get my photo shoots in every now and then. While there wasn’t anything mind-blowing (aside from the main stage and other stages), Untold had plenty of eye-candy to keep you busy. You had your static installments, from a balloon wall to some trippy mirror tunnels and big art installments. However, you also had people roaming around in intricate costumes which had a mini-Burning Man feel to it. There were also musicians roaming around, and occasionally a full marching band putting on a show. You never knew what you were going to get at Untold, and that’s a huge part of the fun.
Don’t expect anything in the way of large floats or massively intricate art installments. While Untold has its fair share of festival fare, it definitely focuses more on running smoothly than looking pretty. Compare that to some big festivals in the U.S. where they have intricate sets but you have to wait 30 minutes for a drink or a port-o-potty, and I’ll choose Untold any day of the week.
Health and Safety Precautions
Hopefully, this is the last year that COVID has any impact on festivals. 265,000 people attended Untold 2021. 75% were vaccinated. To enter the festival, you needed to either be vaccinated, or have a negative COVID test no older than two days. That meant you had to get tested twice to attend all four days of the festival. You’d get a separate COVID wristband along with your regular Untold wristband to let everyone know you were good to go.
Aside from COVID concerns, Untold also had several medical tents throughout the festival area to tend to any inevitable injuries. If I remember correctly, there were at least six, and they were spread evenly throughout the park so that you never had to go too far to get to one. My friend ended up in one after we frolicked a little too hard and she tripped and banged up her knees. She got bandaged up very quickly and within 10 minutes, we were back on the dance floor. It was amazing how smoothly everything at Untold ran.
The Location – Cluj-Napoca
I had never heard of Cluj-Napoca until this festival. Truly, I did not know what to expect. It was my first day in Romania, an entirely new country for me and I was there for what was sure to be a chaotic festival. Cluj was full of surprises. It was a very calm, laid-back city during the day. It never felt overcrowded during the festival week, which was crazy considering how many thousands of people came to Cluj just for the festival. Cluj-Napoca is a big city, although the historic city center makes it feel pretty small.
There isn’t much to do in Cluj, which is fine because you probably will be spending most of the day sleeping anyway. A day trip to Turda Salt Mines is in order if you’re feeling ambitious. However, just take in the laid-back city vibes during the day. Treat yourself to some nice meals because Cluj has some great dining options that aren’t too expensive at all. I wouldn’t consider Cluj to be a particularly memorable city, but damn is it perfect for Untold.
Overall Review of Untold Festival
10/10. And no, this isn’t sponsored in any way by Untold.
I just truly and honestly do not know how it can get any better than Untold Festival.
Everything was perfect. The vibes were immaculate, the value was unreal, and you never had to be taken out of festival mode to waste time waiting in long lines for anything. This festival was the most nonstop fun I’ve ever had. Despite waking up the next afternoon with only a few hours sleep, I’d wake up excited and absolutely ready to go for another night.
Was I absolutely obliterated for the following week post-festival? Yes. But I wouldn’t change it for the amount of fun I had during those magical four days. I’ll be back year after year, you can bet on that.
Grab your festival crew and book those tickets.
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