Ten things to look out for at SXM festival 2020

From VIP villa parties to communal beach cleanups, these artists and activities make the festival what it is

13.02.20 Words by: Billy Ward

The thought of dancing the night away on the pristine beaches of a luxury island or losing yourself on a journey through some of the world’s most beautiful settings may feel like a distant daydream as we drag ourselves through the long and gloomy winter months.

Nestled amongst the stunning natural landscape of St Martin, SXM festival promises a unique fusion of world-class music with the luxury-driven comfort of one of the most idyllic destinations around, making those winter-soaked dreams of a tropical getaway a reality.

Nicknamed ‘The Las Vegas of the Caribbean’, the island’s wide range of nightlife and food options make it the perfect destination for SXM to take place. Now returning for its fifth edition, the festival aims to create the perfect musical experience by drafting in frontrunners from the international dance music community and letting them loose across a range of unique and meticulously curated venues.

As the countdown to the March 11 start date begins, we take you through ten acts and attractions to look out for at SXM festival 2020…

Blond:ish

When it comes to steering the dance scene down new creative avenues, Blond:ish is leading the way. Having already triumphed on the picturesque shores of Happy Bay at last year’s festival, the Canadian selector is returning to Saint Martin once again to spread her infectious positive vibes throughout the island.

The latter part of 2018 saw Blond:ish take a bold step into the next phase of their history as the double act halved in size and Vivie-ann Bakos took sole charge of the project. Incorporating elements of spirituality into her work, the energetic blend of house and techno will beckon in a wave of positivity and mindfulness around the site. Vivie-ann recently told us who she thinks are the 10 Best Activists In Music after launching her own zero-plastic initiative, Bye Bye Plastic, aimed at the electronic music industry.

Sunrise at Happy Bay

Out of the one-thousand feet of secluded private beach and the thirteen acres of luscious jungle in which SXM festival takes place, the immersive headline stage at Happy Bay is where all of the island’s most prominent features find a harmonious whole.

Meander down to the beach stage at the break of dawn and you’ll find yourself at the heart of the festival’s famous sunrise set as the solar rays peak above the horizon and beckon in a new day of fun. Previous selectors for this performance have been minimalist-legend Ricardo Villalobos, with this year’s event set to continue the renowned Happy Bay legacy.

Bedouin

The Brooklyn-based production duo of Rami Abousabe and Tamer Malki draw from influences all around the globe before condensing them to fit within their bold sonic vision that’s sure to get the party started this March. Fusing together elements of their Middle Eastern heritage, Western upbringing, and world travels, the pair have an eclectic and ever-evolving style that is sure to capture the imagination.

Following a huge season for their Saga party in Ibiza, the New York duo will be bringing their visionary sonics to the heart of Saint Martin for a night of cultural adventure and pivotal music.

Saint Martin’s local restaurants

Five days of partying under the sun can work up quite the appetite but luckily the culinary capital of the Caribbean has a whole host of mouth-watering restaurants ready to serve up dishes from around the globe, including the renowned local cuisine.

Stop by at Le Pressoir to unwind in the peaceful surroundings of a 19th century home or overlook the sea as you dine at Ocean 82 for a selection of the best French food on the island. If it’s a slice of New York you’re after JAX promises a melt-in-your-mouth steak whilst you kick back in the settings of a retro American diner. Those looking for the classiest of evenings might reserve a table in the stone-cottage of Emilio’s for a fine-dining experience showcasing the best from International and Caribbean dishes.

Ricardo Villalobos

Widely regarded as one of the most important minimal DJs in Europe, Ricardo Villalobos left his home country of Chile at the age of three before moving to Germany where his interest in music first began. After first starting to produce electronic music in the 80s he went onto become one of dance music’s most cherished voices against the gentrification of the club scene, distilling his ideas of an all-inclusive utopian club culture into his spell-binding sets.

Having previously soundtracked the famous sunrise set at Happy Bay, the Chilean DJ is set to bring his club utopia to the Caribbean once again as he spins an other-worldly mix encompassing the best of minimal techno and micro-house.

Jungle Party

The SXM jungle party provides partygoers with the space to vibe out to a diligent selection of house and techno while taking in the surroundings of a unique dance destination with strong environmental values at its core. Take a dip in the palm tree-covered rock pool or lounge out in one of the shaded eco-huts, the luscious jungle settings promise a music experience like no other when it kicks off on March 13.

Sonja Moonear

With a hypnotic sound that evades being pinned down to any one genre, Geneva-born producer Sonja Moonear has an innate creative spark that allows her to perpetually adapt and redefine her style as she pleases. Always positioned at the forefront of the digital experience, expect to lose yourself in the moment as the tropical island opens its door to the pioneering soundscapes of a DJ at the top of her game.

VIP Mega-villa party

The infamous villa party is one of the most talked about events at the festival and gives fun-seekers the chance to party in true VIP style as a variety of musical guest surprises come down to the glamorous estate worth $25 Million.

With limited tickets available this is sure to be an event not to miss out on as Saint Martin’s luxurious offerings are set to get amplified even more. Whether it’s partying in the pool or living out your own music video fantasy, the villa party is a staple of SXM that only a select few get to boast about attending.

Marco Carola

Famed for his unconventional three-deck mixing style and mind-boggling long journey sets, Marco Carola is nothing less than a legend in the techno world. Reigning from South Italy, the forty-five-year-old was an instrumental force in the development of the electronic scene during the 90s and still remains one of the most respected techno artists twenty years later.

Locked in for the latest instalment of SXM, listen out for Marco’s future-facing minimalist sounds as the Rolls-Royce of the electronic world swings by for what is lining up to be the party of 2020.

Charitable spirit

In 2017 Saint Martin was hit by a series of devastating hurricanes that swept through the island causing widespread destruction and damage to businesses. Since the disaster SXM has sought to increase its devotion to the support of local people and protect the natural resources that make it such a beautiful destination.

As well as being designed with the environment in mind such as crafting stages out of natural island resources or incorporating a world-leading solar-powered lighting design, the festival also has a strong sense of charity running through its community. Attendees are encouraged to work alongside SXM artists in a series of activities that give back to the community such as mid-event beach cleanups or pre-event rubbish collection for local residents. Last year organisers, artists and party-goers collaborated to create the Two Bunch Palms Foundation which donated school equipment throughout the area and rebuilt recreation centres that were damaged or lost in the storms. The five-day getaway offers the opportunity to have a culturally-rich experience whilst also giving back to the island and its people.

SXM Festival 2020 takes place between March 11-15. Find out more information about line-ups and tickets here