Over the weekend of 10-12 September, SAGA Festival in Bucharest, Romania debuted in emphatic style in the spacious, airfield location of Romaero with some of the world’s most esteemed DJ talents gracing the many stages across the festival site. The “Take Off Edition” of the festival attracted more than 45,000 fans from more than 30 countries from around the world; an incredible feat for a brand-new dance music experience.
The festival boasted an endless lineup, spread across six ground-breaking stages with highly renowned DJ names taking to the SPARK and HEAT stages, not forgetting the breath-taking mainstage, SOURCE. Making the most of their surroundings, event organisers ALDA spared no details in making SAGA one of their most impressive productions to date.
Friday saw a barrage of talent land at the feet of an adoring Bucharest contingent, with the likes of Sigala, Inna and Clean Bandit (DJ set) warming up the crowd as the sun set over Romaero. As the darkness arrived, the festival truly came to life with Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Don Diablo and Tiësto performing unprecedented sets to a raucous audience. Meanwhile, some of the heaviest names in techno were gathering inside a derelict aircraft hangar, lined with hundreds of lights programmed to match the relentless four-on-the-floor techno beats that were to be pumped out over the course of the weekend.
On the first night, the HEAT stage welcomed the likes of Joris Voorn, Kölsch, Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex and Anna to experience an unrivaled atmosphere with their persistent, ear-bending techno sonics. Across the festival site, another hangar played host to some of the most prolific names in house and melodic techno. Franky Rizardo, Sonny Fodera, Mathame and ARTBAT played late into the Romanian night at the SPARK stage while Mike Williams closed out day one in dramatic fashion over on the stunningly designed SOURCE stage.
“I love Romania. It is a country with one of the coolest audiences in the world; the crowd feels the music and it is a joy for every artist to play here. The fact that the SAGA festival took place at an airport seems like a very good idea to me; it doesn’t happen very often, so it’s something unique“, said Tiësto.
Saturday had a lot to live up to after a trailblazing first day of SAGA Festival. Fans were ready to receive untouchable performances from Avalan, Sickick and MORTEN into the early evening. Techno outfits Joyhauser, Deborah De Luca, Dubfire and Chris Leibing also arrived with eclectic sets prepared throughout the night on the HEAT stage. SPARK championed more electric house music, as the likes of UMEK, Solardo and Meduza polished off Saturday’s roster.
The second night finished with a flourish on the mainstage too, with John Newman surprising his fans with an incendiary DJ set, while NERVO brought out a very special guest in Romanian vocalist Alexandra Stan. Nicky Romero then brought the best in progressive, electro and groove house, to close out an unforgettable night well into the early morning.
Day three saw the debut edition of SAGA close in impressive style. In doing so, dance music stalwarts decorated Sunday’s lineup with tastemakers Laidback Luke and Topic playing to the expectant crowd in the early afternoon on the mainstage. Exciting things were happening over on the techno stage too, as a list including behemoths Enrico Sangiuliano and Adam Beyer, was topped off by the legendary UK DJ Carl Cox.
The SPARK stage ran the finishing leg with a meticulously crafted lineup as well, flaunting zestful performances from reputable names Eli Brown, Hot Since 82 and Fisher among others. Moreover, the mainstage also had a dramatic finish in store, as a stunning live performance from viral sensation Masked Wolf, was bolstered by immaculate DJ sets from Oliver Heldens, Vini Vici and the final set of the day from Alan Walker.
Every day of the festival was made extra special as festivalgoers enjoyed special drone shows. Equipped with lights, the drones flew above the stage for 7 minutes each day, programmed to create unique shapes and animations in the sky originating from the icosahedron, the central element of the SAGA brand. The light show also brought messages of love and unity for fans.
Three days, over 100 of the most appreciated international and local artists, a formidable audience, unique designs and spectacular shows, this was SAGA – The Take Off Edition. As the spectacle came to a close, CEO of ALDA Allan Hardenberg shared his emotions with fans, staff and artists alike following a memorable first outing for the festival:
“There was fantastic energy at SAGA, the audience was amazing. Over 45,000 people from all over the world had fun together every day of the festival. The artists were also extremely excited and felt joy and a sense of friendship all around them. We thank all those who started this journey with us and who supported us unconditionally. We are happy about this first edition and we are already thinking about the next one, which will take place on June 3, 4 and 5, 2022, in Bucharest.
We are already having discussions with the artists, we have big names for next year, which we will start announcing in just a few weeks. The public is the most important for us and we always want to surprise them with the most interesting projects. All we can say right now is that we will reunite faster than you can imagine“, said Allan Hardenberg – CEO of ALDA.
While pulsating dance beats electrified the main areas of the festival grounds, music could be uncovered in more discrete locations around the site. ALDA stowed away a Silent Disco, while the aptly-named SWITCH stage provided alternative electronic music too. Unbeknownst to most, secret DJ sets were also taking place inside a party plane within the SAGA confines. Across the course of the weekend, DJs such as Joris Voorn and MORTEN took to the decks in an incredibly intimate setting, which also saw Nicky Romero perform exclusively under his Monocule alias.
Saga is to return on 3-5 June 2022 – more details are pending, however fans can register their interest in the 2022 edition on the festival website here. ALDA aren’t finished in Romania this month either, as one of the biggest Armin van Buuren solo shows is coming to Constitution Square on 25 September 2021. SAGA Festival 2021 3-day ticket holders and others who want to be part of it can still register on via the link.