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Four Tips for Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest

**Update: For a full list of Reggae Sumfest Frequently asked questions answered, check out this post: Reggae Sumfest FAQ

Jamaica — the land of sun, sea and sonic sound!  Soca and calypso may fuel the parties throughout the Caribbean, but in Jamaica, reggae is king!

Every July, thousands of reggae and dance hall lovers flock to Montego Bay for one of the best reggae music festivals in the world, Reggae SumFest.  Whether for a day or the entire week, I highly recommend all reggae and dancehall music lovers head down to Mo Bay to check it out.  But before you start perfecting your slow wine, review these tips to maximize your Reggae SumFest experience.

Buy Your SumFest Ticket(s) Early

By the time I decided to attend SumFest, on-line ticket sales were closed.  I ended up spending hours driving around Mo Bay to find an authorized ticketing venue (thank God for GPS) that still had tickets available.  When I finally arrived at the venue I had to leave once again to get cash and nearly beg the agent to sell me the tickets she was holding for someone else.  Not a fun day.

Recommendation — As soon as you have confirmed your trip, purchase your tickets on-line.  If on-line sales have closed, purchase your tickets at a promoted official SumFest ticket seller once you arrive in town. If you budget allows, consider purchasing the VIP ticket(s).  They cost a little more, but given the long hours it is well worth it.  In addition to being closer to the stage, you gain access to a private area with more seating and shorter lines for food and the restrooms.  If you are lucky, one of the performers may even be back there enjoying the show with you.

Chris Martin with me at Reggae SumFest 2010

Me and Chris Martin, Jamaican singer-songwriter after his performance at Reggae SumFest 2010

Dress Appropriately

Ladies and gentleman, I know you want to look cute, but please, please, please dress for the occasion.  There are two primary venues for the SumFest concerts, the beach (for the beach party of course) and the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex (think outdoor arena/fairgrounds type of space).  SumFest 2010 was affectionately called MudFest because days of heavy rains left Catherine Hall a big muddy mess!  This typically isn’t the best venue for heels ladies.  Clumsy me fell and twisted my ankle a few days before and hobbled and hopped around the giant mud puddle venue to my seat, providing enough pre-concert entertainment for all, I’m sure.

Recommendation — I can’t tell you how to dress, but it is rains, I definitely wouldn’t recommend your highest, most uncomfortable heels. If there is a lot of rain, definitely consider shoes with a little traction.

RYOC (Rent Your Own Chair)

Upon entering Catherine Hall, we were greeted by guys selling the white plastic lawn chairs.  I was confused, but since everyone else was doing it, I did too.  You can bring your own, but I didn’t have one so this worked out well.  Not only did I have a place to sit while waiting between acts or while eating, but I had a non wet, non muddy place to sit my stuff when I was up shaking a tail feather.

Recommendation — Rent a chair! You won’t use it the entire time, but you’ll be happy you have it!

To Drive or Not to Drive

Driving in Jamaica is already crazy enough (for me at least) and getting to and from SumFest, just like any other big concert, can be a headache.  We rented a Toyota Yaris for the trip and drove to the event.  Due to the rain, the parking area was more suited for mud bogging than parking.  Our little Yaris got stuck in the mud and hit while someone else tried to get unstuck. Thank goodness for rental car insurance.

Recommendation: Determine what will work best for you  If you decide to drive be ready for the long waits and possible damage of your car in all of the commotion. If you are staying at a hotel or resort, see what arrangements you can make through them to get dropped off or picked up.  Taxis are also available and waiting to transport you if you are comfortable hailing a cab.

Enjoy Reggae SumFest!

Despite a few minor annoyances, I had a blast at Reggae SumFest in 2010 and looking forward to going back again.  For information about the lineup or to order tickets, visit the official SumFest website.

Article Feature Photo courtesy of www.ReggaeSumfest.com

About the author

April D. Thompson

Solo female world traveler and Jamaica-holic balancing a corporate marketing gig with an insane case of wanderlust.