“It doesn’t get better than Wickerpark.” says Philippe Manasseh, lead singer of last year’s Canadian-Lebanese headliner Wake Island, and recent member of How Sad, also part of the 2014 lineup.
For the fourth year in a row, Junior Daou and his family open their large swath of land for a day of music, art, and environmental awareness to the Lebanese people. It is the highly anticipated grassroots project that has turned into a proper annual event on the Batroun coastline: The Wickerpark Festival.
If you’ve been to the Wickerpark Festival before, don’t just expect another one-day concert. When Daou first started WP the goal was simply ‘To make a festival where local acts get to perform on a proper stage with proper sound and light.” This year’s festival has a couple of awesome events that mark a drastic expansion since its inception as well as a fresh new lineup of local musicians.
“We always try to improve and upgrade especially in terms of stage set up and production. But this year we also have the Off-Festival program with Beirut Jam Sessions and CU NXT Sat, as well as a relatively large camping area,” Daou said. “We try to make it a memorable experience for the artists and the audience.”
The brand new ‘Off-Festival’ is a warm up to kick off the event the night before at a local brewery– and it’s an event in itself. Organized by Beirut Jam Sessions, performances from heavy hitters such as Faree2 El-Atrash, Lebanon’s revered 9-piece Arabic hip hop band, and the young and incredibly talented band, Safar will take place Saturday early evening. Afterwards , the official festival pre-party kicks off with legendary DJ acts such as Jade and the CU NXT Sat crew at another location.
A video from last year’s Wickerpark Festival
Lebanon is a place where even very public social gatherings can feel like house parties. And walking into the Wickerpark festival area is like walking into the long awaited end of summer music fest that all of your friends, acquaintances, and favorite bands are at too. So the camping addition, which offers a safe alternative to driving back to Beirut late at night and allows for absolutely breathtaking views when you wake up, can only add to the camaraderie that already exists on the grounds, not create it.
And true to the peace, love, and music vibe Wickerpark embraces, the ticket prices are shockingly affordable. Entrance to the festival is a mere $20.
Wickerpark focuses on local or Lebanese talent which ends up benefitting everyone in the end; First it’s a chance to highlight the homegrown scene. More advantageously, with all talent either living in Lebanon or being familiar with it, there is less of a chance of cancellations or problems usually caused by “the situation” i.e. tumult in the region, bombings in the country, etc.
Gates open at 4:30 on Saturday and you can buy tickets at the door before checking out the visual environmental art adorning the space. There are also NGO tents, alternative projects, and activist initiatives on the grounds. One incredibly important new alliance is with Kunhadi, an NGO aimed at youth awareness on road safety.
Statistically, Lebanon is one of the most dangerous places to drive, especially regarding zero active drinking and driving laws. Therefore Kunhadi has teamed up with the festival and is offering free taxi rides for those under the influence after the CU NXT Sat pre party.
This year’s lineup includes: Mashrou’ Leila, Scrambled Eggs, Youmna Saba, Charlie Rayne, How Sad, Z The People & Al Jihaz, and Flum Project.
Junior Daou’s tip for the big day is to arrive early, during the golden hour before the sun sets, “I think it’s the most magical time at our venue, and it’s so great to see people coming early to experience that.”
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