Annually, there is a host of Reggae events held throughout the island paradise of Jamaica. These include festivals, concerts, expos, and live Nyabinghi sessions. The most legendary of them all is the One Love Peace concert which was first held in 1978 at the National Stadium. It’s at this concert that the Reggae King, Bob Marley, joined the hands of two rivaling political leaders as a sign of peace during his performance.
Since then, there have been numerous celebrations of Reggae and Jamaican culture that always seem to pull people together. Reggae has always celebrated as Jamaica’s popular music derived from Calypso and Mento music; first introduced by Rastafarians.
Today, the music is known worldwide and extends beyond the Rastafarian culture. It has transcended into being the music for upliftment (or an ‘irie vibe’ as used in Jamaica), expansion of the mind and consciousness, meditation, positivity, and political commentary.
Reggae festivals in Jamaica remain the primary grounds for an authentic cultural experience. These festivals aim to offer the full immersion in the rich culture of Jamaica, Music, and Rastafarianism.
What Are Some Of Jamaica’s Finest Reggae Festivals?
It is the grand experience of Jamaican Reggae festivals each year that attracts many Jamaicans and tourists. A typical festival usually includes a concert lineup of reggae and dancehall singers and musicians, organic Jamaican food, and many other activities. In fact, as these festivals tend to be held for more than a day, special hotel or camping packages are usually offered to tourists and locals for the entire duration.
These festival organizers, along with their sponsors and the Jamaica Tourist Board make it their duty to provide a fully immersive experience for people who want to revel in authentic Jamaican reggae, with good food and beautiful people. Special arrangements are also usually made for accommodation as well as transportation to and from the venues.
Among the most popularly attended options is Rebel Salute, hosted in celebration of the musical artiste Tony Rebel in January, Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, and the recently revived One Love and Smile Jamaica concerts. These festivals hit the mark with music, food, and entertainment.
Reggae Sumfest: Most Popular Jamaican Reggae Festival
Reggae Sumfest is the most popular and longest running music festival on the island. It’s held every summer in Montego Bay, and this festival somewhat sets the stage for other major events.
The first Reggae Sumfest took place in 1993 and featured a host of legendary artists. This year (2017), the festival celebrates its 25th Anniversary. In commemoration of this milestone, it promises to be the ‘biggest and best reggae festival ever to be held in Jamaica.’
Although the lineup is not yet available for this year’s festival, some of the local acts from previous festivals include Beres Hammond, Freddy McGregor, Beenie Man and Stephen Marley.
Others include Toots and the Maytals, Bounty Killer, Capleton, Agent Sasco aka Assasin, Luciano, Romain Virgo, Christopher Martin, Spice, Andre ‘Popcaan’ Sutherland and the list goes on.
International acts which have graced the stage in the past include Usher, 50 Cent, and Rihanna.
This year, Sumfest is slated for July 16-22. The festival usually lasts for an entire week, starting with a beach party on Sunday. It also includes an All-White Party and culminates with a series of concerts on the last three nights. These shows feature live performances by local and international singers and musicians at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex. There is no doubt that the organizers are preparing a spectacular series of events for this year’s staging.
Experience Authentic Jamaican Reggae in Jamaica
More and more, Sumfest and other Reggae Festivals across Jamaica get better and better. These have also motivated the establishment of other small festivals throughout the year which is just as authentic.
In addition to these festivals, there are regular Reggae concerts across the island occurring throughout the year such as 420 concerts and ‘Earth hour’ concerts. Moreover, in February of each year, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, as well as other cultural organizations, host a series of events in commemoration of Reggae Month.
Although Reggae music is accessible all over the world, a Jamaican experience is unique and priceless ever time. No matter where in the world you are – even if you have been to a Reggae Festival abroad – you’ll never truly have the authentic Jamaican experience until you visit Jamaica.