Creating a music festival is a rather risky business that centers on the collaboration of both artists and fans from across the world. These festivals are vacations and celebrations from our daily lives and the struggles we face, but this year has proven to be a reminded that there’s more involved in throwing a good festival than packing a field full of people. Phases of the Moon was cancelled because of a road closure, TomorrowWorld’s fans were abandoned and left to sleep in mud pits, Creatures of the Night mysteriously shut down after the first day.
There is a lot that can go wrong when throwing a party for 40,000+ people so it’s important to have promoters with experience. Okeechobee is produced by Soundslinger which brings in a team of people who worked with Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and the STORM in Shanghai, China. The chief creative officer, Paul Peck, was actually partially responsible for launching Bonnaroo many years ago.
When one festival flops it leaves room for another to flourish in its place and Okeechobee is set to become a contender but there isn’t a lot known about the festival until the dots are connected.
What is it?
Okeechobee is a music and arts festival that was announced just a month ago and it will be taking place at Sundance Grove, an 848 acre ranch in Okeechobee, Florida on March 4th-6th. The location was once a horse ranch and it was intended to be used as a subdivision but it failed, leaving paved roads in its place that can be utilized for the music festival. The town of Okeechobee has a population of roughly 40,000 people and it sits directly between Orlando and Miami in southern Florida.
Okeechobee promised to rival Bonnaroo and Coachella in terms of musical support and diversity which is a very bold claim to make for a first year festival to make. I was skeptical of how they could produce a lineup that would rival the biggest festivals in the United States but phase 1 of their artist announcements effectively put me in my place.
The first thing to notice about Okeechobee’s first lineup announcement is the quality of headliners. Okeechobee will be graced with the presence of quality performers who are veterans in the music scene like Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, and the new super group Big Grams (Big Boi & Phantogram). This kind of quality from a first year lineup sets the standard for Okeechobee in the years to come.
The second takeaway from the phase one announcement is the amount of diversity in the lineup with all genres being represented across the board. Okeechobee is not interested in being a traditional one trick pony like many festivals. It is clear that it wants to bring people of all backgrounds together for an unforgettable experience of indie, hip-hop, dance, and rock.
Then there is the mysteriously named “Powow! A Superstar Mashup with Special Guests”. This might seem vaguely familiar for those who have experienced the magical Superjam experience at Bonnaroo and that’s because the producer of those historic Superjams is bringing his talents to Florida. It is rarely possible for so many talented artists to be in the same place at the same time and the Superjam experience that festivals have incorporated adds an authentic jamming experience to the weekend. Some of the most magical moments at Bonnaroo come from the artist collaborations that otherwise typically wouldn’t happen.
The fourth takeaway comes from a news article on okeechobeenews.net. It states that there will be more than 80 artists on five different stages and we know that three of them will be large stages suitable for big acts. It also said that one of the weekends highlights include dusk-til-dawn electronic music stage parties. This is a good indication that the music will go all night long so I would expect the largest stages to have performances until 1 or 2 a.m. The dusk-til-dawn comment makes me expect more however, hopefully Okeechobee is taking another page from Bonnaroo’s book by incorporating sunrise sets into their schedule.
Okeechobee is going to be Florida’s biggest camping festival ever with gates opening Thursday, March 3rd at noon. The land was once a horse ranch so much of the property is filled with wide open spaces perfect for a music festival. One thing to consider is whether or not the environment is suitable for camping. The first thing that crosses my mind is the possibility of mosquitos that are likely to inhabit the area. Okeechobee ensures that early March is well before the mosquito season, but I would bring mosquito nets just in case.
Weather is always an important factor to consider with outdoor events, but it becomes crucial for a weekend of camping. Okeechobee is still months away so it is impossible to predict the weather, but by analyzing weather from the past, we can have an understanding of what to expect.
The temperature should linger somewhere between 53 and 78 degrees providing the perfect weather for a music festival. Okeechobee will occur at the perfect time of year for Florida; Early enough to beat the humid summer heat and late enough to avoid the chilly winter. Another interesting piece of data to note is that the sun rises at 6:30 a.m and sets at 6:30 p.m.
Other Festival Information:
Yogachobee: Yogachobee is a relaxing retreat where you can do yoga at sunrise or take yoga classes at dawn. If bending like a pretzel isn’t for you then there are also smoothies available from one of the vendors or you can get a massage to get your dancing muscles ready for the night.
Aquachobee: This appears to be an aqua wonderland and relaxing escape from the rest of the festival with breakfast in the morning, swimming in the day, and chill zones for hanging out with friends.
The Lost Jungle: Okeechobee says that the Lost Jungle is the place to get primitive and dance all night to raging beats. It’s being advertised as a hidden clearing deep in the heart of the jungle so you might have to look long and hard to find this secret location. The description only informed of music so that makes me think this is a stage, but it is clearly being mentioned separately from the 5 stages. This makes me think that it could be a small stage separate of the five like the “Kaliope” stage at Bonnaroo. This might be the spot of some amazing sunrise sets.
Okeechobeings: Festival attendees are referred to as “Okeechobeings”
First phase- Sold Out
Second Phase- $270