The rise of the five star festival

Published in Evening Standard Magazine on April 12, 2017

Yachts for hire, on-site spas and champagne by the bucketload… this summer, festivals have gone luxe.

The Jet Set One: Fyre, Bahamas

What: How better to announce a brand-new festival than with models cavorting on a tropical island? In December, news that the first ever Fyre Festival would be taking place in the Bahamas this spring was conveyed to the world via Instagram, which sizzled with sunkissed snaps of Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski promoting its launch. Promising to be ‘more than a music festival’ the super-luxe event, co-founded by Ja Rule, will take place on the exclusive Fyre Cay (once home to Pablo Escobar) with guests flown in from Miami on private jets. Headliners include Major Lazer and Disclosure, and a whopping treasure hunt is planned with prizes worth a cool £800,000.

While the super-rich rock their yachts (rentable for an eye-watering £231,000), tented accommodation starts at £1,200, while £160,688 secures a two-bed VIP villa in the artist area, allowing guests to rub shoulders with the talent and even enjoy a private dinner with one of the acts. For that price, it had better be Kanye himself…

When: 28-30 April and 5-7 May (


The Clubber’s Paradise, Anchored

What: Launching this summer with a luxury cruise ship taking 2,500 revellers from Rome to Mykonos, Santorini and Monte Carlo, Anchored will see daily champagne pool parties soundtracked by the likes of Tinie Tempah, Artful Dodger and house DJ Patrick Topping. The 962ft liner features restaurants offering sushi, steak or Italian cuisine (there’s also private dining, where a chef will whip up whatever you fancy), as well as a theatre and casino. Cabins start at £699, going up to £15,000 for the 1,156 square-foot Royal Suite with its own whirlpool bath, butler service and baby grand piano. The floating festival promises ‘the very best of the nightlife you would normally find in Ibiza along with all the glamour of yachting and cruising’. The mix of cruise comfort and swanky clubbing should mean the event attracts a hard-partying crew swapping a Balearic villa for an on-board suite, and the chance to recharge party batteries in the gym and expansive spa.

When: 11-18 June (


The Hippie One: Obonjan, Croatia

What: Obonjan does things differently: launched last year by the organisers of Croatia’s Hideout and Unknown festivals, it runs across the summer and takes over a whole island in Croatia. With a programme of talks and wellness activities as well as music, it’s like TED gone hippie-luxe. Expect hipster bloggers tapping at laptops before stripping off their Lucas Hugh leggings to splash in the Adriatic. Last year, models including Poppy Okotcha and Rebecca Pearson joined the fun. Air-conditioned lodges cost £97 a night — so you can stay as long as you can afford. With star-gazing guided by astronomers, turquoise waters to swim in and inland forests to explore, there’s a back-to-nature element to Obonjan (though all accommodation also comes with charge points and hair-dryers). There are parties, with acts including Gilles Peterson, DJ Norman Jay, and Andy Butler’s house/disco collective Hercules and Love Affair, but Obonjan combines raving with lots of restorative activities — such as Jasmine Hemsley doing sound baths, ‘radical futurist’ Daniel Pinchbeck talking ecology — and 400 hours of yoga.

When: 23 June to 3 September (


The boutique retreat: Oasis, Morocco

What: The tag line is ‘dance somewhere different’ — and a luxury hotel at the edge of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains certainly makes an enticing alternative to a damp field. With a sharply curated line-up of progressive dance music, Oasis takes place at The Source, an upmarket private resort seven miles from Marrakech, and attracts a discerning, international party crowd. The organisers promise ‘a festival vacation experience, only without the beer-spilling-fist-pumping element: classy, but carefree’, and say that ‘only those with an intrepid attitude and impeccable taste end up on the dance floors of Oasis Festival’. Taking over the hotel for four days of open-air music, the line-up includes Detroit techno superstar Richie Hawtin and house and techno spinner Maceo Plex. Revellers can cool off in the on-site glittering pool, flanked by aromatic landscaped gardens, or lounge in a Berber-style Moroccan chic Laurent Perrier champagne bar with a Ladurée macaron in hand. Guests can book packages with partnered nearby hotels, from £167 for three nights.

When: 15-17 September (


The Wild Ride: Summerfest Cruise

What: The brainchild of American super-producer and social media maven DJ Khaled, this party cruise sails for the first time this summer. A round-trip from Miami takes in Nassau and a private island in the Bahamas over the course of three nights. A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne and Future will headline, and opportunities for ‘partying and mingling up close and personal’ with the performers are promised. Cabins range from £580 to £1,028, if you want double-door ocean views and your own private balconies, but all include breakfast in bed (coffee and pastries, Continental-style). Line-up details are yet to be finalised but according to Khaled, Summerfest ‘is a movement… that connects the worlds of music, fashion, culture, technology, and design. We’re going to give you everything — the dopest live concerts, spectacular fashion pop-ups, and enlightening panels and presentations’.

When: 30 June to 3 July (

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