There’s plenty going on for reggae fans this summer, with a festival to suit all tastes and locations.
The summer’s reggae festival trail kicks off in May in France with the aptly named Sunshine Reggae Festival (www.sunshinereggaefestival.com). Reggae-lovers will be able to enjoy a range of roots music over 6 and 7 May, and Lauterbourg’s lakeside location makes this an ideal musical outing for families who can have the best of both worlds, enjoying a holiday by the water by day and a music festival after dark.
Further afield, the International Roots Festival (www.rootsgambia.gm) runs throughout Gambia in early June in various locations from Bakau to Brikama. This popular event takes place every other year and attracts an international crowd of people interested in West African music. With traditional dance, music and art, along with visits to historic sites, it’s not to be missed.
Music-lovers are spoilt for choice for reggae events in July, with options in Germany, Italy, Canada, Sardinia and America.
Reggae goes back to its roots too with a number of events taking place in Jamaica. You can warm up from the comfort of your own home with the International Reggae Day Festival (ireggaeday.com) on 1 July. This festival takes place online and aims to use the power of music, media and technology to highlight the global impact of Jamaican music and reggae culture.
The main event comes in the form of Reggae SumFest (www.reggaesumfest.com), one of the world’s biggest reggae celebrations, which brings the whole Montego Bay area alive. Throughout the festival, which runs from 16–23 July, world-renowned reggae stars take to the stage for a series of live shows and parties. Reggae styles on display at the festival include everything from conscious vibes through to rough and raunchy. Explore the area or lounge in outdoor cafes by day, then come out and party to reggae sounds when the sun goes down.
August is also a busy month, offering the perfect weather for sunny reggae sounds and more than eight separate reggae festivals to choose from. Uppsala Reggae Festival (www.uppsalareggaefestival.se), which has been running since 2001, is one of the major ones and has led to Uppsala being named “The Reggae Mecca of Scandinavia”. The festival’s stated aim is “to make reggae music more accessible to more people and to provide a meeting place for people who want to experience love and togetherness” and its ethos has certainly proved popular. The festival has grown from a one-day festival to a three-day extravaganza that draws over 20,000 visitors from Sweden and beyond. The festival, which will take place 4-6 August, regularly attracts notable artists, with Alpha Blondy & Solar System, Busy Signal and Collie Buddz & The New Kingston Band all taking to the stage last year.
The 2011 reggae festival season rounds off with Japan’s Yokohama Reggae Sai (www.yokohamareggaesai.com). The event started in a club with 150 people and now fills out Yokohama stadium with over 35,000 music fans. This year’s performers include Mighty Crown Family, Fire Ball, Papa B and more. The festival regularly sells out in double-quick time, so don’t delay if you want to finish the summer with Japan’s biggest reggae festival.