Rototom Sunsplash takes off: the reggae festival that unites generations
More than 80 concerts and an extensive extra-musical programme in the ten cultural areas that fill the venue with activity make the event an enjoyable experience for all ages.
Benicassim, 2019-08-20. General (Otros). Photo by: Nacho Canos © Rototom Sunsplash 2019.

To the adjectives international, multicultural and eclectic, Violeta Palazón adds another to define Rototom Sunsplash: intergenerational. This photographer from Castellar del Vallés (Barcelona) and a regular at the international reggae festival since its arrival in Benicàssim in August 2010, says that her personal experience corroborates that the idiosyncrasy of the cultural event is what makes it enjoyable for any kind of audience, regardless of age. She has experienced editions alone, with her partner, with her daughters Álex and Zoe (who are now 14 and 15, and with whom she is returning this year) and with her parents and in-laws.

An intergenerational experience that Violeta narrates just a few hours before the Rototom Sunsplash roars again: from 16 to 22 August, at the Benicàssim concert venue, an accessible, safe space, also designed for the smaller members of the audiences and with areas that avoid crowds. It will do so with 73 hours of music and more than 80 concerts and sessions on its six stages; with an offer of activities, talks and workshops distributed across a dozen cultural and leisure areas; and 40 global gastronomic proposals capable of taking the palate on the journey around the world that is Rototom Sunsplash itself.

Violeta (44) still remembers how she heard about the first edition of the festival in Spain: “I saw it on the internet and told my partner: there’s a reggae festival in Benicàssim. My daughters were 2 and 4 years old at the time. We looked at each other and it was like: let’s go! And that’s how it is today. The second year she enrolled in a week-long photography workshop that led him, in 2012, to become part of the official team of photographers at the festival.

“My first Rototom seemed incredible to me: suddenly it was like being in a space where you can be at a concert but in a small town format; a place where small communities are generated, where you meet people, in the venue or in the campsite, who come for a thousand different reasons: for the line-up, for the activities, to have a stall at the street market, for volunteering… And you connect,” she says. Something similar happened to Alex and Zoe, her daughters. “They liked meeting people we already knew from Barcelona. They have made a lot of friends here. And those routines of sitting down with them for a waffle or an horchata, meeting up for dinner and then going to concerts… it’s nice,” she says.

As children, and also accompanied for several editions by their grandparents, Mercè and Pere, and Salvador and Susa (between 65 and 70 years old), the stages most frequented by the two little ones were those intended for family audiences: Magicomundo, Artisan Market and Jamkunda (the new space that has transformed African Village). These spaces offer a wide range of leisure, fun and learning alternatives every afternoon until sunset, which marks the start of the concerts. “My parents have experienced the festival mainly in the afternoons, although they have also seen some concerts; they always said that what they liked most was that it was like a small town, seeing people of so many ages, the circus shows… and drinking fruit shakes”, she smiles.

Violeta’s daughters, Álex and Zoe, now in their teens, return this summer to the festival, which dedicates one of its areas, the Teen Yard, to a younger audience. With a skate area, every afternoon this space will offer radio, music editing and beat box classes, feminist twerk sessions and introductory photography workshops, which will be given by Violeta Palazón. A workshop with which she completes the circle and with which she returns to that session in 2011 that united her, then as a student, even more to Rototom.

“After two years of hiatus, I feel like meeting people again and experiencing Rototom. The festival is the people. It’s those dynamics. The rhythm that is generated. Seeing how in a matter of minutes the esplanade in front of the Main Stage fills with life,” he says. “And I want to see Burning Spear! It’s been a long time since he’s performed and he’s been one of my favourites since I was 20 years old,” he adds. “But I’m sure there are many more artists that I’ll discover, because that’s the great thing about Rototom: it gives you the opportunity to discover”.


Benicassim, 2019-08-20. General (Otros). Photo by: Nacho Canos © Rototom Sunsplash 2019.

The six stages open the door to the learning and experiences that Violeta talks about. On its 27th anniversary, the festival will sound off with reggae, roots, dancehall and afrobeats, but also ska, hip hop, balkan and cumbia. The headling   will be Burning Spear -22nd August- along with other roots maestros such as Luciano, Black Uhuru, The Abyssinians, Max Romeo, Clinton Fearon or Sly Dunbar & The Revolutionaries; and the most current reggae by the Marley’s (Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ and Julian), Morgan Heritage or Alborosie. The opening of the Rototom Sunsplash to Afrobeats will come with Davido. There will also be ska (The Skatalites), dub (O.B.F), dancehall (Sean Paul), hip hop (Mala Rodríguez) and cumbia, with La Dame Blanche.


This Saturday, 13 August, Rototom will open its offices in Benicàssim (located in Mossen Elías street, number 14) in a special way. The aim is to make it easier for people over 65 years old and those with functional diversity over 65% to collect tickets for the 2022 edition. They will be able to collect their accreditations from 12.00 to 18.00 hours without having to go to the venue’s ticket offices.


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