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Will Turkey’s SunSplash be your festival of 2014?

Emma Gritt

Beach Party Day GV 300 Will Turkeys SunSplash be your festival of 2014?With festival season looming, many people are working out whether or not it’s time to buy a new tent.

However, there are better ways to spend your festi-budget than on a beautiful canvas bell tent – or your phonebill after fruitless hours spent calling the Glastonbury resale line.

More and more people are heading abroad to get their annual fix of al fresco partying and new music-discovering, and Turkey’s SunSplash festival is one of 2014’s buzziest options.

I spoke to organiser, Turkish Londoner Serkan Cetin, about what makes this year’s week-long extravaganza of music, yoga, yurts and good vibes a sure fire winner with families – and more mature festival-goers looking for more than just a noodle stall and a Radio 1 sponsored dance stage…

How many people go to SunSplash?

In the past we have had an attendance of around 400 people per year, but I think this year we could see numbers rising to 1000. We are moving location to Bodrum and and have a beach front venue with a larger capacity than our previous spot in Antalya.

Bodrum has a better local music scene and a crowd that fits the festival profile better. In Antalya we were in a sort of bubble, we had a fantastic venue but not much of a local audience so our crowd consisted mainly of international music jet setters. With the move to Bodrum we will attract more locals. Bodrum is also a popular destination for party goers from Istanbul so we should see some movement there too.

What is the typical Sun Splash festival-goer like?

We have an international crowd, although mainly from the UK and Europe, we also attract attendees from as far as Canada and Brazil to Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. I would say that we are a slightly more mature festival, not many teens about, more of a 26 – 40-something audience. Some people come with families, we welcome children and I believe this creates a nicer vibe overall. It is a selective crowd, people who I would say have clubbed hard in the past, or have been to tons of festivals but are now looking for something a little more chilled, dare I say, a little more refined than the average festival.

Can you describe the ethos of the festival in 10 words or less?

Sun, sea, healthy living and healthy music.

What’s the history of the festival?

I was staying at our previous venue – The Hillside Su Hotel – in 2008 and I was really impressed with the hotel, the professional and friendly staff and amazing setting and legendary Turkish service!

I remember thinking how amazing it would be to party there, to create a mini festival, where you could be on a lush holiday but listening to some of the best DJs in the world rather than the classic hotel resident playing euro bang trash bang music! So, SunSplash was born out of a desire to hear great music outdoors in the sunshine and in a comfortable, beautiful setting. And, without fighting through crowds, dealing with temperamental security, standing in messy toilet queues, eating crap food and trying to find your tent in a muddy field.

Although it is inspired by an eclectic combination of outdoor events such as London’s Notting Hill Carnival, Womad and Bestival, SunSplash Festival aimed to be more musically focused and more boutique; pitched at a discerning crowd of around 500-1000 serious music lovers. We still believe the festival is unique, although quite small, with a strong international line up, it punches way above its weight in terms of quality. I should add that had it not been for the support of certain key friends and artists such as Norman Jay, Gilles Peterson, Phil Asher, Cliffy and Jamie Lidell, it would not have really gotten off the ground, these guys were pure generosity, taking a punt on an unknown venture in some distant place called Antalya back in 2009.

Can you explain more about the ‘yoga zone’?

This years yoga program will be organised by David Cornwell of Advayta Yoga. David will begin the program with a seminar introducing seated meditation. Each day there will be two yoga classes, a vigorous morning practice, and a quiet evening ‘yin’ practice to wind down. The morning class will build progressively throughout the week mixing vinyasa and classic hatha yoga postures. The evening yin class is more suitable for complete beginners, containing a blend of gentle moon salutations, supported and restorative postures. Postures are chosen that can comfortably be held for longer, allowing the beneficial effects to deeply penetrate the muscles, joints and other tissues.A short meditation will be practiced at the end of each yoga class. The morning and evening classes will be taught by two experienced yoga teachers who are fluent in English. The yoga classes are open to all levels.

Will there be many Turkish artists on the bill?

We normally make a conscious effort to include Turkish artists on the bill. It wouldn’t really be right without local talent to create a better cultural exchange. This year we welcome Ahu, a Turkish singer / songwriter who has worked with the likes of Flying Lotus and Simbad, she is also an excellent deejay, we have Kaan Duzarat, an established local deejay and producer who runs some solid club nights in Istanbul, we aslo have Oojami, another producer and deejay coming in more on the world music side of things. Its a mixed bag, some people do the classic Sunsplash thing musically and some diversify the musical texture of the festival even more, giving us surprises and musical treats from lesser known sources and I like that. We also look to support emerging local deejays and producers.

What does Turkey offer for festival goers?

Well… that really comes down to climate, cuisine and friendly local people. The Mediterranean climate is solid. Turkey gives us the opportunity to enjoy music outdoors and combine that swimming, beach and all that great outdoor stuff. It is a relatively easy and cheap destination to fly to as well with good connections from the UK and around Europe.

What are the benefits of having a week-long festival?

People seem to relax better, and we present a musical journey that sort of moves to a climax by the end of the week. So coming for a week means you are there when the stew goes on the fire, you are there when is starts to simmer, and you are ready for it when it starts to boil! People have more time to unwind, meet and get to know people. By the second half of the week this amazing family atmosphere emerges, everyone had met and become mates, everyone feels comfortable, and all that remains is to have a good time. It’s nice, it works – we have a lot of weekenders too, but a week feels better for pace.

What does a typical day on site entail for you, and also for festival-goers?

Wake up to a lovely breakfast on the beach patio, take it easy, chill, recoup perhaps from the night before, plenty of swimming, perhaps some water sports, windsurfing, morning yoga or even a massage. Music doesn’t get started till around 1pm. The day time sessions are usually chilled out, we’re not about banging from early afternoon, we prefer beach music, listening material, maybe a little head nod at this stage, its a good time to hear spacious jazz, down tempo soul, ambient Bossa, see, I am trying real hard not to call it lounge! That genre conjures elevator music in my mind, but for sure, we are mellow in the day and festival goers can indeed lounge.

As the day progresses, the music lifts a gear: from around 5pm we move into sunset party mode. The cocktails have started to flow now and the smiles are wide and bright all over the place, hands in the air, some people have begun throwing shapes and the DJs are feeling it and reaching for those special cuts they have been fantasising about dropping at SunSplash, it all gets pretty special. At around 8pm, there is a break in proceedings as people go off to eat and get themselves ready for the night, then its back to the dance for the evening club sessions.

SunSplash takes place from June 1st – 8th June 2014 at Aspat Beach, Bodrum, Turkey. Tickets start from £160 + accom and flights. For more info, visit http://sunsplash-festival.com

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