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Poll Clubs 2020: Papaya

Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Capacity: 3,500

Back in 2002, a collective of Croatian visionaries wanted to create an internationally known open-air club. A space that would put Croatia on top of the world map for festival-goers and adventure seekers. A site that would wow visitors and excite the clubbing community. Job done. Since then, the pool area has had a complete redesign, and a few clever little remoulds to the setup and decorations in the daytime part of the club keep this wonder-venue fresh.

Papaya Club, set back just a few steps from the ocean, is completely open-air and basically one of the most idyllic and breathtaking clubs in the whole damn universe as we know it. A go-to for Croatia’s festival season, Papaya is open from late May to early September. Last year, it welcomed back the likes of Don Diablo, Amelie Lens, Marco Carola and Timmy Trumpet to dazzle on the shell-like main stage decks.

This year there are plans to host over 10 festivals, from Hideout to Sonus, with fabulous headline DJs joining their equally fabulous local resident DJs: Kosta, Radman, Trevon, Sheko, Marzz and Rudeejay. Peak summertime this year sees Day & Night Festival laying on a lavish EDM event, while Beach Odyssey Festival will be keeping things trance-like and progressive. There are also plans in the pipeline to craft entirely new festival brands, with Vaquation, Isla Loca, Daddy Yankee and Spinnin’ Records among the partners and like-minded collaborators being mentioned.


Poll Clubs 2019: PAPAYA

Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia

Capacity: 3,500

Situated on the shoreline of breathtaking blue Adriatic waters, on the famed party island of Pag, Papaya is less a club and more a full day out. And night, of course.

Attendees get free reign over a veritable rave compound, including a huge pool area — redesigned in 2017 — which forms the centre of the action each afternoon, winding up just after sunset. The iconic shell-like main stage and palm trees tower over the crowd, with only the on-site production beating them for scale.

First opening in 2002, when it was around a fifth of the size it is of today, the venue has expanded physically while growing in terms of international prominence too. A direct beneficiary of the Croatian festival boom, more than ten major events call this place home annually, including Sonus, Hideout, Fresh Island, Barrakud and Black Sheep.

These 10,000-plus-capacity spectaculars, ranging from techno and bass to hip-hop and EDM, brought in huge guests such as Gorgon City, Jamie Jones, Lost Frequencies, Marco Carola, Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun, Tchami, Timmy Trumpet, Vini Vici and W&W last summer alone. That’s in addition to local nights, where the likes of Kosta Radman, Tony D, Superfine and Trevon keep things moving.


Poll Clubs 2018: PAPAYA

Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia

Capacity: 3,500


Given its location — right on the seafront — Papaya’s famous swimming pools almost seem redundant. That is until you see them in the throws of the club’s so-called ‘after beach parties’ — famously debauched late-afternoon affairs that have well and truly promoted this Croatian mainstay into the global dance music Premier League.

First opened in 2002 as a sister venue to the club of the same name in the country’s capital, Zagreb, the Zrce Beach address has grown enormously between then and now. The venue’s shell-like main stage, complete with powerful LED array, provides an instantly recognisable backdrop to the wider scene: thousands of revellers marauding around a site that comes complete with multiple levels and hidden corners, not to mention towering palms, its own shoreline, and, last year at least, jungle-themed decorations. Needless to say, the open-air setting is fundamental to the club’s entire personality, and atmosphere.

When the offering is this good the pull is always going to be huge, and Papaya is no exception to that rule. A 24-7 operation during the summer season, when its Croatian homeland becomes one of Europe’s go-to destinations for those in search of sun, sea, and serious tunes, between May and September the venue provides a base for more than ten festivals, including Hideout, Sonus, Fresh Island, Barrakud and Black Sheep, to namecheck just a few of the annual highlights.

All of which means visiting talent comes in the form of huge names from across the electronic spectrum and beyond, with variety one of the defining features in the line-ups. Paul Kalkbrenner, Major Lazer, Sean Paul, Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, Solomun, Don Diablo, Timmy Trumpet, W&W, and Lost Frequencies stopped by during 2017, representing the gamut from EDM to low-slung house and techno.



Poll Clubs 2017: PAPAYA

One of Papaya's main attractions is its huge 'after beach' parties that take place throughout the entire festival season. We're talking every day from 3pm to 8pm from late May to early September. Just a quick shimmy shimmy away from the sea, this open-air club is the perfect hot spot for lovers of warm, sunny Croatian climes mixed and blended in with some quality non-stop festival action. Glancing back to last year, Paul Kalkbrenner, MK, Marco Carola, Loco Dice and W&W were amongst the heady list of artists and DJs that lit up Zrce beach.

With a determination to keep things fresh and sparkling, renovations have been taking place — some new features on their shell-like main stage, improvements to lights and sound, and some cheeky tweaks to their already wondrous VIP and pool area. So this year is the big reveal. And Hideout, DJ Mag Beach, Sonus and Armada Croatia aren't even half of the line-up on the cards for the summer ahead. But let's not forget the local DJs that make up the backbone of clubs like this. Kosta Radman, Marzz, Superfine and Jurki host resident nights alongside the likes of Armada Deep, Elrow, Cocoon, Revealed and yours truly, DJ Mag.