After taking a year off to recover from the devastating loss caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in order and help rebuild, SXM Festival’s third iteration rocked the Caribbean island of St. Martin from March 13-17. Nestled between sandy beaches and palm trees, SXM Festival has become a staple attraction in the underground dance music scene. Fans flock from all over world to dance their ways through SXM Festival's various venues: oceanfront bars, traditional dance clubs, the main stage The Arc at Happy Bay Beach.
The pristine beaches and open-air clubs featured heavy-hitting festival staples such as Dubfire, Nicole Moudaber, Marco Carola, Guy Gerber and Audiofly. As a newer festival in a more remote location, SXM Festival is unique in that it isn't crowded. Even to a seasoned electronic music fan, it's an absolute treat to be able to see some of the biggest names in the scene with sufficient room to dance or even sprawl on the beach. Ricardo Villalobos even had the chance to charm dancers at The Arc at Happy Bay Beach with a sunrise set.
The magic of this event starts with its beautiful and welcoming Caribbean location. From the moment festival-goers arrive at St. Maarten’s airport, not only are they greeted by its turquoise waters and rolling hills, but also by festival staff who have set up a check-in area that conveniently provides wristbands and a nearby wristband loading station for the cashless festival. This accommodation provides a fast and worry-free experience for the checking in that continued throughout the remainder of the hassle-free event.
The cashless festival experience was key on an island that is split between France and The Netherlands, with an incoming international crowd visiting from multiple continents. The cashless wristbands make for fast and efficient bar and food lines - not to mention, it justifies the annoyance of having to wear the same wristband for five days straight.
In addition to the cashless experience, the spread-out nature of festival venues stands out. Some of the venues were a 20-30 minute drive apart, leaving plenty of room for relaxation and a sense of meandering. There was music playing somewhere on the island any time of day throughout the five-plus days of this festival, so there is no rush racing from stage to stage. This gave SXM Festival the spirit of a music event with a vacation tacked on - no wonder it has become a crown jewel in clubland's spring calendar.
A handful of supplementary events were thrown in conjunction with the festival. The FUSE crew out of London hosted a can’t-miss Jungle Party nestled among the tree houses and cabanas of the lush Loterie Farm. The wild poolside vibes were perfectly complimented by the sounds of Seb Zito, Archie Hamilton and Enzo Siragusa.
The Ocean Stage at Happy Bay was redesigned as a colorful web of psychedelic driftwood and exploded with stellar sets by Francesca Lombardo, Holmar, Sabo, and DJ W!ld. The two stages at Happy Bay provided blissful, beachy getaways that gave SXM Festival a distinct feeling of escape and seclusion.
The closing night, featured a SCI+TEC x Stereo takeover with notable performances by Apollonia, Dubfire and Traumer. It was the sendoff SXM deserved. Each set bubbled over with an ecstatic energy that matched the enthusiastic crowd, amped by the sea breezes and idyllic temperatures of the preceding few days. Dubfire even mixed in Benoit & Sergio's "Walk and Talk," enchanting the main stage crowd in beautiful singalong moment.