Portimao & Lagoa, Portugal – 14th-17th September 2017
Festival Ticket Price: €220
Since founding in 2008, The BPM Festival has earned global recognition for their 9 day long festivals in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, described as “a picturesque beach town that runs along miles of soft white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters on the Mayan Riviera”. With incredibly stacked line-ups, huge event showcases and a global following, they went on to win numerous awards including “Best International Festival”, “Best Music Event” among many more. In 2017 however, they decided to branch out to Europe. The Portuguese edition certainly had a lot to live up to…
When the organisers announced the plans to host the next festival in Europe, this was understandably greeted with some animosity and scepticism on social media, however any concerns of a lowering standard were quickly stifled with the line-up announcement:
A predictably hefty line-up of the world’s biggest House & Techno artists awaited anyone who decided to have faith in the new location, book the flights and embark on the journey to sunny Portugal… Which is exactly what we did.
We arrived late at night on Wednesday 13th, the night before the festival started. We checked into our hotel on the Praia Da Rocha beach front, and walked down to the front for a couple of drinks and met some friends. I vividly remember sitting at a bar taking in the surroundings thinking “this place is too nice for a music festival”; there were 5* hotels, upmarket bars and the white pavements were impeccably clean.
After a good nights’ sleep, the next morning we went to accreditation to get our wristbands. This was around a 10 minute walk from the beach, but was not particularly well signposted so it took us a good half hour to get there, but in the end, we got our bands and went back to the beach for the day to relax before the first big night time event.
Our destination of choice on our first night was the “Centro de Congressos do Arade”, which is a gigantic conference centre in Lagoa (near Portimao). Here, they have 2-3 event showcases per night – one in each auditorium. This particular night was the official Opening Party. The venue was around 20 minutes away from us by taxi.
We spent most of the night in the Pavilion, enjoying sets from Peggy Gou, Eats Everything and Jackmaster. The room was huge, but acoustically that didn’t pose any issues; the sound was rich and warm and the stage had a huge backdrop of the infamous BPM logo. This was the first time we had to buy drinks from the festival, and as is standard these days, you had to purchase drinks tokens and then exchange these little plastic coins for drinks at the bar. Each token cost €5, and you could get a beer, single spirit and mixer, or 2 bottles of water for each token – good prices for a music festival.
As the night came to an end, we were fortunate enough to get a lift home from one of our friends who worked at the festival, which was a godsend as the taxi queues were enormous! All in all, the night was seamless, but getting home would have been a challenge if not for the lift!
After shaking off the slight hangover with breakfast and some sun, we got ready for the first major brand showcase of the weekend – Paradise.
Being avid fans of Jamie Jones’ powerhouse event, our hopes were high for the BPM edition, hosted at NoSoloÁgua Beach Club around 200m from our hotel. We arrived early, around 2pm, with Jasper James supplying a light, pumping warm up set of classy house music to start the day. The venue was long and fairly narrow, across the beach front. The wristbands we had granted us backstage access, which is where we spent most of the day. When Richy Ahmed was playing, around 7:30pm, the sun was just setting behind some palm trees in the distance, a very apt setting for a Paradise party.
As we went into the evening, we were treated with one of the best sets I’ve ever seen with Jamie Jones b2b Loco Dice, and then the whole night was rounded off nicely with Patrick Topping playing the last 2 hours. No issues to report with the venue itself, however the sheer demand for this event resulted in large queues outside; our wristbands allowed us to walk in the back entrance, but out the front it was taking people a good 30-45 mins to enter. For BPM 2018, Paradise is at a bigger venue presumably to combat this, but I would advise getting there early this year!
Our third day showed no sign of slowing down. This time, it was Elrow at Blanco Beach, which again was a few hundred metres from our hotel. This was a day party (12pm-12am), and the lineup consisted of Elrow residents Marc Maya, Toni Varga, George Privatti and Gonçalo, with Paco Osuna on headline duties. The majority of the venue was covered by a sort of bamboo/thatching roof, which was a nice escape from the sun. I don’t need to tell you about the characteristics of Elrow, just have a look at one of the photos:
The day flew by really quickly, dancing with inflatables and people dressed as toothbrushes… One thing I had concluded by now is that the Portuguese don’t seem to have the same kind of noise restrictions as they do here in the UK; the D&B Audiotechnik sound systems were thumping all weekend, achieving a loud and clean intimate sound in large open-air venues, something you don’t often experience in UK towns and cities.
Our final day at the festival consisted of nursing our heads and rallying for one last push for the Closing Party at the Congressos.
We spent most of the night in the Basement for Kaluki, again the sound system in here was incredible. Not much more you could want in a basement venue; the ceilings were low, the lasers bright and the music was loud! We had planned on leaving a bit earlier as we had a flight home at 10am but we ended up staying here until 6am which is testament to the quality of the event.
To conclude, the BPM Festival certainly didn’t disappoint having come to another continent off the back of such a stellar reputation in Mexico. It was a bit rough around the edges at times logistically, for example there simply weren’t enough taxis sometimes to get everyone home in reasonable time, and without Google Maps you would struggle to navigate from one place to another, so keep this in mind – I would recommend using Uber out there when getting home from the Congressos. I am confident that they will iron out these issues for the 2018 edition though.
Food prices around Portimao were very reasonable, and there were loads of places to choose from. One of the best parts of the whole festival was the fact that there were tens of thousands of people in attendance from all over the world, exchanging flags and partying as one, as opposed to some European festivals that are overrun by the English. In this day and age, that is a brilliant thing to be a part of!
We’re back this year where hopefully an 8 out of 10 festival grows to a 10 out of 10 festival!
Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for more reviews!