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Review: Ai Carai! International day of music festival, Ibiza

As this locally organised Ibiza festival entered its second year, we went curiously to take a look. We got a lot more than we expected!

On an island veritably bursting with incredibly high quality music events, one becomes accustomed to a certain standard that world-class events with correspondingly world-class budgets deliver, here in Ibiza.

What you don't necessarily expect is for a small, passionate community of artists, artisans and musicians to stage a comparatively epic event, completely crowdfunded, on an absolute shoestring. And what's more, with magnificent success.

Ai Carai International Day of Music festival has just smashed its second year in Ibiza. The entire village centre of San Carlos, for one glorious day, became alive with a vibrant, colourful, happy celebration of that most international of languages - music. With San Carlos known to be the bohemian capital of the island, we were expecting something small and well, homemade. How wrong we were.

We realised as we passed Las Dalias on the San Carlos road and the traffic ground to a halt that the village was full. If you go next year (and we recommend you do) then simply park in the ample parking at Las Dalias less than 1km on the left hand side before San Carlos. €3.50 well spent. It's a 5 minute saunter to the village from there.

I spent a few hours wandering around the different stages. There were 9 in total, ranging from huge elaborately decorated affairs, to a simple upturned box, one light and a table, set out unceremoniously but with panáche on the jam-packed pavements of the village street.

Ai Carai music festival San Carlos Ibiza

Over 200 musicians took part and I witnessed maybe a quarter of that. I saw Rockabilly bands, Trance bands, Reggae bands, solo performers of all kinds, a big, raucous Samba band leading a rocking procession through the village. The variety of talent on display everywhere and everyone evidently enjoying themselves immensely was a joy to be a part of.

I don't know the name of any of the musicians that took part that glorious evening and it really didn't matter. It really wasn't about the fame or glory of individuals, it was about everyone getting together happily to experience a whole heap of great music that you'd almost certainly never heard of before. Who'd have thought I'd be so into a Rockabilly band? Certainly not me, but there I was, rockabillying my little tootsies off!

Ai Carai music festival San Carlos Ibiza

There were several thousand people of all ages, shapes, sizes, creeds, colours and descriptions, all chatting, feasting, dancing and generally having a great time. The overwhelming ambience was unashamedly bohemian, the hippies were out in glorious technicolour and all the local shops were doing a roaring trade. The lady in the pastry shop was so overcome with it all in fact that I had to add my own bill up for her. And that in itself was just lovely. The event somehow felt like a wonderful, warm, family occasion. €7.60 got me 3 gorgeously sticky chocolate croissants, a beer and a generous slug of Baileys with ice. Lots of savvy locals were merrily picnicking on the village green.

The international music festival is now an annual event, with over a hundred countries taking part. The Ibiza contribution looks set to go from strength to strength.

With its proximity to St John's day, an outstanding holiday could be planned around these two impressive local festivals, especially considering the gorgeous villas dotted around this outstandingly beautiful area. You're also just a hop, skip and a jump from sunny, peaceful Santa Eulalia.

So if you love live music, a fantastic, international festival atmosphere and the beautiful surroundings of Ibiza, then we highly recommend you pay a visit around this time next year. Oh boy are you in for a treat.

What's more, the whole festival is completely free!

A massive thank you goes out to the Ai Carai team and the countless people who volunteered their time, resources and talent to make this outstandingly successful event happen. Spotlight says bravo, see you next year guys!

Ai Carai music festival San Carlos Ibiza

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