23 August 2019
More than 120 concerts on the seven stages of Rototom Sunsplash and 140 extra-musical activities. 17 uninterrupted hours on the festival agenda. 26 years that culminated in the big reggae meting this 2019, complete with special shows to also celebrate its first decade in Spain and the careers of bands such as The Abyssinians, Third World, The Selecter and Misty in Roots. It’s energetic slogan Stand up for Earth, that has encouraged the public in the collective goal of giving a better life to the planet. The international festival Rototom Sunsplash has many arguments and with them says goodbye in Benicàssim. It says farewell to seven days that united 202,000 people from five continents. They all go home looking to the next edition.
During the week, more than 202,000 people from 76 countries have spun to the rhythm of planet Rototom. The majority were from Spain, then followed by France, UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. Alongside these countries, there were also far-flung destinations such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Philippines, Ghana and Kenya that had a presence.
The busiest day was Saturday 17th August with 34,000 people that came to see a line-up headed by Busy Signal and the soundtrack show from the film Babylon, one of reggae’s biggest cinematic hits, at the hands of Brinsley Forde and Dennis Bovell. The same day also saw “a significant influx throughout the whole week”, reported the organisation.
The session on 21st August, with the unstoppable Ziggy Marley; and the day that closes the festival with a special show from Green Valley & Friends that celebrates 10 years of the festival in Spain, also had significant peaks in attendance.
The festival has flowed beyond the limits of the concert area thanks to the live streaming of the concerts and activities throughout the week. The five channels set up have brought Rototom Sunsplash closer to 7 million people all over the world, who could follow the day to day happenings of festival live and direct on the website and social media.
The open and family friendly profile of Rototom Sunsplash has also evolved this edition, encouraged by the addition of new areas such as the Teen Yard for teenagers at the festival. From Friday 16th to Thursday 22nd August, 11,000 under-13s have passed through the concert area. In addition, 3,400 over-65s and 3,800 people with disabilities joined the Rototom Sunsplash experience.
Stand up for Earth had great successes, like having given this edition the title plastic free. It’s a firm step in the right direction in defence of the Earth that has been made possible thanks to the elimination of all plastic bottles. This has freed the planet of 11,000 kg of plastic (which is enough to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and has prevented the emission of almost 16,500 kg of CO2.
Rototom Sunsplash also stood up for Earth by way of the debates and talks that took place in the Social forum and Ataya (African Village). Many renowned speakers have passed through, such as the indigenous leader and guardian of the Amazon; Sonia Guajajara, the Spanish representative of the student climate movement, Fridays for Future; Gemma Barricarte, as well as the human rights activist; Sani Ladan. These debates put the focus on the collective search for solutions to global problems such as the climate crisis and the impact of plastic.
A large part of the festival’s ‘green’ movement concentrated in Pachamama, with a programme that tackled practical issues in the defence of Mother Earth, such as how to reduce plastic consumption, to designing objects with recycled materials and how to create a domestic vegetable patch.
Along with this extra dose of environmental engagement, Rototom Sunsplash 2019 also also maintained its commitment to solidarity and social engagement through actions like the campaign to raise funds for Greenpeace with the reusable plastic glass system, setting up a Respect Point for information about sexual aggressions or LGBTphobia, as well as the novel initiative of donating food to reduce waste.
The programme of Rototom Sunsplash has also made an additional couple of stops at the prison Castellón II de Albocàsser. The spirit of the festival and the music of Koers (Monday 19th) as well as Green Valley and Macaco (Wednesday 21st) was brought to the inmates there.
As of this Friday 23rd August, the countdown to Rototom Sunsplash 2020 is back on. Ahead is a while year to outline what the 27th edition of Europe’s biggest reggae festival will look like.