Jamaica’s legendary Reggae Sunsplash festival has returned after a 14-year hiatus with a virtual event this year.
Reggae Sunsplash will make a virtual entrance onto the 2020 entertainment calendar come November 27 and 28, 2020.
Digital and creative Institute, iCreate will manage this year’s staging of the event which has been pivoted to a virtual festival due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Presented by main partners Visa and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Virtual Reggae Sunsplash 2020 will be streamed primarily on YouTube along with other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, making the authentic Jamaican experience even more accessible to a worldwide audience, organisers said.
According to Tyrone Wilson, Executive Producer of Reggae Sunsplash, “We are grateful to still be able to offer the Reggae Sunsplash experience to the world. With the global pandemic, we have had to make some adjustments but we hope that through this unique performance package that we have created, fans of Reggae Sunsplash all over the world will be able to enjoy.
“This is a historical and iconic brand that helped to birth Jamaica’s music festival economy. Our main aim at iCreate is to aid in the development of the digital and creative economies and this festival will be reintroduced to Jamaica and the world at a critical juncture. Creatives will benefit from additional earnings during a time where the industry has been brought to its knees,” Wilson added.
The show will acknowledge the contributions of reggae pioneer Dennis Brown with a special tribute. Reggae Sunsplash have also partnered with KFC, FLOW, Rumbar, Dragon, BetCo, Clear Sounds and Kaboom.
Wine distributor Betco will offer a “one of a kind” viewing experience at over 20 venues across Jamaica, all while abiding by the COVID-19 protocols and the stipulated curfew hours, the organisers said.
Director of Tourism, Donovan White stated, ““The Jamaica Tourist Board is pleased to support iCreate for the return of Reggae Sunsplash. Reggae Sunsplash was the first reggae music festival to attract a global audience to the destination, way back in 1978, and even today, there is a cadre of fans who are excited at the return of this festival.
“The JTB recognizes the value of reggae music as a larger than life pull for visitors across the globe and look forward to this 2020 staging as an opportunity to showcase Jamaica and Jamaican talent, demonstrating that Jamaica truly is The Heartbeat of the World,” White added.
In the meantime, Waldemar Cordero, Head of Caribbean and Central America Marketing, VISA, said: “We know our consumers’ preferences across Jamaica and the region continue to shift, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we are excited to be working with Reggae Sunsplash to provide a unique digital viewing experience for such an iconic brand. We look to connect people’s interests with benefits that are as unique as their DNA. Reggae Sunsplash is the perfect platform to bring this idea to life with the various viewing experiences being planned by the team.”
The organisers said additional sponsors, partners and artiste line-up will be announced later this week.
Reggae Sunsplash has featured the likes of Bob Marley, Alton Ellis, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, Bunny Wailer, Snagga Puss, Fabby Dolly, Terror Fabulous, Tiger, Lady Patra, Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, Monster Shack Crew, Papa San, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and many other iconic names of reggae and dancehall.
The festival first debuted in 1978 in Montego Bay as the blueprint for reggae festivals around the world, hosting everyone from Bob Marley and the Wailers to Jimmy Cliff to Dennis Brown.
The lineup for this year’s virtual event includes Romain Virgo, Jesse Royal, Dexta Daps, Agent Sasco, Tanya Stephens, Barrington Levy, Capleton, Masicka, and Chi Ching, Richie Spice
“In 1978, Reggae Sunsplash set the precedent for destination music festivals as it blended the concept of travel and music that was authentic to Jamaica,” said Donovan White, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “Now, the festival will aim to set new standards, this time in the virtual event space, by transporting viewers to our island through the rhythms of Jamaica. “Reggae Sunsplash will once again celebrate musical experiences and showcase Jamaica’s impact on the global stage as the heart of music, culture andbold experiences.”
The festival will be available on YouTube beginning Nov. 27.