For the director of the Reggae Sun Ska Festival near Bordeaux, Fred Lachaize, creating the festival has been almost a life’s work. Featuring some of the biggest names in the reggae world, including Buju Banton, Ziggy Marley and The Skatalites (featuring Stranger Cole), Reggae Sun Ska is the longest running and most important reggae festival in France and was started by Lachaize some 22 years ago, when he was just 20 years old.
“I wanted to introduce reggae music to a wider audience in France,” says Lachaize, “but I was also influenced by Californian surf culture and that way of enjoying the sunshine and an outdoor life. So it was that as well as a French sense of wellbeing and joie de vivre that I wanted to bring to the festival, so that people could come here and enjoy the music amidst beautiful surroundings with their friends and family.”
Situated just an hour and a half’s drive north of Bordeaux amidst the lush vineyards, pine forests and oaks of the Médoc, the festival features three main stages as well as two other spaces for sound systems and dub, and the wide range of acts include not only reggae stars, but also hip-hop, electronic, world music and dub artists.
But it’s not just about music either:a wide range of food stalls offer an array of different cuisines and there’s also plenty to do, from ‘pétanque’ (boules) competitions to group yoga classes and massages. There’s also a chill-out area and the festival is supremely family-friendly, too.
In the ‘Kids’ Area’, there are special performances for kids and child-sized bathroom facilities, as well as noise-reducing headphones which can be bought or rented for younger children.
“Whether you’re visiting with friends, as a couple or as a family, Reggae Sun Ska is about forgetting your everyday life.” says Lachaize. “It’s a place to leave your problems behind and spend three days living well, eating well and enjoying time with friends or family. It’s about enjoying music, but most of all, it’s about enjoying life.”
Tickets for Reggae Sun Ska are 95 euros for a three-day pass, bought in advance (or 110 euros at the gates), or 40 euros for a one-day pass (or 47 euros on the day).