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Review: San Carlos Ibiza Music Festival

Sunday, lovely Sunday

There's something to be said for the other side of Ibiza and this Sunday's San Carlos Music Festival was a great example of that. You still get music, animation and pure unadulterated fun but with a totally different vibe. Now in its third year, the event is supported by a handful of local sponsors, lots of volunteers and more importantly the residents of San Carlos who open their doors to all comers.

This festival, organised by Ai Carai, is one of the most diverse down-to-earth events in the summer calendar. Firstly, it's attitude-free and very friendly, where you bump into people you know or just make new friends. Secondly, and this is what I like, it's for absolutely everyone: all ages take part and there's a real international flavour as you might expect from Ibiza. It's very fitting for an event that is part of World Music Day, which is celebrated in many many countries worldwide.

And San Carlos did put on an excellent show. There were people on stilts and jugglers seemingly appearing out of nowhere, lots of visitors wearing colourful hats and jazzed up outfits for the day. More animation came courtesy of Indian Bollywood dancers with brightly coloured saris and some Flamenco dancers. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces as they wandered through the village in search of the grand variety of things to see. Stalls were lined up selling handmade jewellery plus lots of the well-known local boutiques were open with their own inimitable giftware.

Kids had their own playground and a mini circus tent with clowns, plus many families and groups of friends sat out on the village green in between tours around the village. Drinks prices were reasonable too, something you don't often see at these events, with a beer around €2 or a mojito for €5. Food stalls filled the streets and I had a great hot dog for only €3.50. There were also empanadas, pizzas, lots of different local tarts and a huge veggie curry to be had, again all priced reasonably.

Then of course there was the music: a sound blast coming from all corners of the village over five different stages, featuring 150 musicians, many local, many from around the world. One stage had a group with sax, keyboards and a double headed didgeridoo plus an artist painting his own interpretation of the ‘sound' of the band, with swirling blues and pinks filling his canvas. The genres of music here was mind bogglingly big, with reggae, Brazilian beats, lots of rock and jazz sounds, plus lots of fusion music combining techno and jazz, hip hop and reggae and even a shamanic band. There were of course too many people to name: the point is being part of it all and experiencing some great musical diversity.

Sitting on the green at one point, was a great procession of a percussion group that a friend identified as Tutiplen. This group uses folk music from around the world from places like Brazil and other parts of Latin America to Arab music. It was made up of a great mix of people of all ages and very much an emblem of the event itself.

As day turned into evening and the kids got tired, the music did seem to get rockier and we found ourselves camped next to several stages dancing away. It was a fitting way to end the night with sounds from people with names like the Frigolos and Jet Lag. The festival is a great way to be a musical tourist and suspend all your beliefs about what you think you know about different music styles: it's a learning experience and one which you take lots of pleasure in doing.

The best thing about the event is that it is totally free; someone asked me how they were able to do it, and the answer is that it's all done with a love for music and for people to just simply have fun. It's one to get on your calendars for next year and I shall certainly be there. Make sure you are too.

WORDS | Julian Heathcote PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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